NUIG Galway 0-23 UCC 0-14
UCC finished second in Group B of the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup after NUI Galway proved superior in their clash at Dangan on Wednesday evening.
While wins for both colleges over Mary Immaculate College and UCD meant that qualification for the knockout stages was assured beforehand, victory meant topping the section and securing a home quarter-final. Now, Tom Kingston’s side – winners of the last two editions of the competition in 2019 and 2020 – must travel to face the winners of Group B, most likely Waterford IT.
The visitors never led at any stage and couldn’t get to the pitch of the game in the first half, where they trailed 0-6 to 0-1 and 0-10 to 0-2. While they possessed more of a threat in the second half after switching from a sweeper set-up to a more conventional formation, a goal to get them back into the game never looked like materialising.
While Shane Barrett had replied to Conor Walsh’s opener for NUIG, the home side soon established a strong grip on the game. Cian Lynch was excellent at centre-forward while the half-back line of Caimin Kileen, Darren Morrissey and Mark Gill was tough to break down.
UCC, with Ronan Connolly operating as a sweeper, tried to play out from the back but NUIG defended well from the front and showed signs of good coaching in possession, with Gill landing a super point in the ninth minute to make it 0-6 to 0-1 after nice play form Walsh, Ian McGlynn and Evan Niland.
Though Mark Kehoe replied with a fine UCC point, he and Simon Kennefick were too often left isolated in a two-man full-forward and, with Niland’s sights in from placed balls, NUIG continued to ease clear.
In contrast, UCC weren’t able to make the most of their frees – William Henn, Barrett and Daire Connery were off-target over the course of the game – and, though the introduction of Pádraig Power before half-time saw them revert to a three-man inside line, NUIG remained strong up to the break, with the impressive Brian Concannon making it 0-15 to 0-5 before Henn did send a free over on the whistle.
Conor Bowe and Jack O’Connor were introduced by UCC for the second half and Cork star O’Connor, still returning from injury, showed signs of his deadly pace, Niland continued to punish any indiscretions, ensuring that UCC were only able to keep pace – eight points was the smallest margin between the sides in the third quarter.
The game petered out with the outcome decided well before the end and both sides emptied their benches in the closing stages. NUIG sub Mark Kennedy and full-forward John Fleming were on target to bring their total number of scorers to eight players while Barrett, Kennefick and Bowe ensured that UCC had three of the last four points.
They must regroup ahead of a tricky challenge next week.
E Niland 0-12 f, B Concannon 0-3, C Lynch, C Walsh 0-2 each, M Gill, I McGlynn, J Fleming, M Kennedy 0-1 each.
S Barrett 0-6 (0-3 f, 0-1 65), W Henn (f), M Kehoe 0-3 each, C Bowe, S Kennefick 0-1 each.
L Reilly; E Lawless, D Morrissey, J Fitzpatrick; C Killeen, C Caulfield, M Gill; I McGlynn, D Kilcommons; B Concannon, C Lynch, C Walsh; P Hickey, J Fleming, E Niland.
S Burke for Kilcommons, M Kennedy for Hickey (both 49), A Brett for Gill (53), L Forde for Fleming (54), E O’Donnell for Killeen (56).
I Butler (Kildorrery); K O’Dwyer (Killenaule, Tipperary), N O’Leary (Castlelyons), G Millerick (Fr O’Neills); R Connolly (Adare, Limerick); R Downey (Glen Rovers), T O’Connell (Midleton), C Barry (Ahane, Limerick); C Cahalane (St Finbarr’s), D Connery (Na Piarsaigh); S Barrett (Blarney), W Henn (Na Piarsaigh, Limerick), C Boylan (Na Piarsaigh, Limerick); S Kennefick (Glen Rovers), M Kehoe (Kilsheelan-Kilcash, Tipperary).
P Power (Blarney) for Barry (27), C Bowe (Moyne-Templetuohy, Tipperar) for Henn, J O’Connor (Sarsfields) for O’Connell (both half-time), E Roche (Bride Rovers) for Connery (54), C O’Brien (Newtownshandrum) for Cahalane (55).
J Murphy (Limerick).