Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup SF: Holders Mary I advance:

Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup Semi-Final:

Mary I 0-19 LIT 0-14

By Darragh Small at Dangan, Galway

Aaron Gillane starred for reigning champions Mary Immaculate College once again as they booked their place in the Fitzgibbon Cup final with victory over Limerick IT at Dangan in Galway.

It was a wet and windy setting for the clash of the Limerick powerhouses, but Jamie Wall’s men coped better with the conditions and Gillane’s brilliant 12 points – 10 from frees, helped them over the line.

It could have been more for the Limerick hurler, had his 32nd minute penalty not been saved by LIT goalkeeper Eibhear Quilligan. But Mary I still held an 0-8 to 0-7 lead at half-time after Gillane popped over the resultant 65.

Mary I claimed their first ever Fitzgibbon Cup title last year, when they beat UL 1-30 to 3-22 after extra-time in a thrilling decider. And they were one of the favourites all the way through again this year, with star quality dotted throughout their side.

Gillane has been their main man in this campaign – he scored six points in the first-half, while Galway’s Paul Killeen notched five frees in reply to keep Davy Fitzgerald’s LIT in touch.

Quilligan’s brilliant save from Gillane just before the break should have been a turning point for LIT, but once Gillane gave Mary I a one-point lead at half-time, they remained in the ascendency.

Former All Star Colm Galvin took over at midfield for Mary I in the second-half, and the Clare man inspired those around him. He scored the first point after the interval, and although Killeen hit back, Mary I scored five of the next six points.

Ronan Maher scored brilliant from out on the left sideline, and when Gillane tapped over his eighth point Mary I were 0-14 to 0-9 ahead with 22 minutes remaining.

Gillane scored three points in a row between the 51st and 55th minutes, and his side led by seven points, with a couple of efforts from Peter Duggan coming too late for LIT.

Scorers for Mary Immaculate: A Gillane 0-12 (10fs, 1’65), C Galvin 0-3, D O’Donovan 0-1 (1’sl), R Maher 0-1, M O’Neill 0-1, S Cahill 0-1.

Scorers for LIT: P Killeen 0-7 (7fs), P Duggan 0-2 (2fs), W Connors 0-2, D Dempsey 0-1, J McCarthy 0-1 (1f), S Ryan 0-1.

Mary Immaculate College: Ciaran Barrett (Tipperary); David Sweeney (Tipperary), Richard English (Limerick), Eoin Quirke (Clare); Conor Twomey (Cork), Ronan Maher (Tipperary), Alan Flynn (Tipperary); Colm Galvin (Clare), Stephen Cahill (Tipperary); Darragh O’Donovan (Limerick), Michael O’Neill (Clare), Aaron Gillane (Limerick); Luke Meade (Cork), Cian Lynch (Limerick), Tadhg Gallagher (Tipperary).

Subs: Thomas Monaghan (Galway) for Gallagher (39), Colm Stapleton (Laois) for English (44).

Limerick IT: Eibhear Quilligan (Clare); Oisin O’Brien (Clare), Kieran Bennett (Waterford), Cian Nolan (Clare); Willie Ryan (Tipperary), Barry O’Connell (Limerick), Diarmaid Byrnes (Limerick); David Reidy (Clare), Willie Connors (Tipperary); Paul Killeen (Galway), Peter Duggan (Clare), Shane Bennett (Waterford); Jamie Shanahan (Clare), Jason McCarthy (Clare), David Dempsey (Limerick).

Subs: Sean Ryan (Tipperary) for Bennett (41), Andrew La Touche Cosgrave for Connors (53), Michael O’Malley for McCarthy (53), Sean Burke for O’Neill (54).

Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow).