Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup Final: Mary I triumph:

Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup Final
Mary I 2-14 UL 1-15

By Tom Clancy at Abbeydorney

Limerick outfit Mary Immaculate College claimed the prestigious Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup crown for the third time thanks to a fine victory over three-in-a-row chasing University of Limerick.

The all-Limerick derby, which took place in Abbeydorney, was part of the Higher Education GAA’s celebration of hurling in Kerry, hosted by MTU Kerry.

Those who love hurling in North Kerry arrived in their droves as they did too from Limerick and across the province, with plenty of representation from many different counties.

Jamie Wall savoured a sweet success, with the underdogs leading for most of the contest before UL responded entering the final quarter.

However, Mary Immaculate, who have quite a small male student population, found another gear to finish strongly, as points from Devon Ryan and captain Colin O’Brien helped them over the finishing line.

Leading by four at half-time, the winners perhaps were worried, after firing 13 wides with the wind at their back. Goals from Devon Ryan and a fortuitous effort from Jason Gillane was replied to by Gearoid O’Connor.

Mary Immaculate also had points from three long-range Gillane frees, Cathal Quinn and Diarmuid Ryan. UL struggled to bring their quality forward line into the contest.

However, the score of the half, the UL goal, put this game back in the melting pot. Tipperary star Gearoid O’Connor finished neatly after Limerick’s Adam English raced through the centre to pass to the towering half-forward.

Brian Ryan’s UL scored even of the eight scores in the third quarter, Colin Coughlan and subs Colm O’Meara and Ian Bryne were accurate. From here, it seemed the Castletory side held all the momentum.

Those in blue didn’t read the script, they dug in and won the frees which Ryan duly dispatched. Shane Meehan raised a white flag from the sideline with their only score from play in the second half.

Leading by one, Ryan miscued a placed ball and the next, from near the same spot, was taken by captain Colin O’Brien.

The wing-forward, from Churchtown Liscaroll Gaels, didn’t waste his moment and bagged the insurance score. From here, UL failed to muster anything to threaten a second green flag. History taken from them and instead made by Mary Immaculate, who continue to churn out quality Fitzgibbon Cup sides.

Winners in 2016 and 2017, there was a sweetness to this one for all involved. Victories over UCC and Maynooth ensured they topped a groyp before getting by TUS Midwest and SETU Waterford in the knockout phase. UL well regret a slow start – meaning they taste a first loss in the competition since 2020.

Scorers for Mary Immaculate College: Devon Ryan 1-4 (4fs), Jason Gillane 1-3 (1-3 frees), Colin O’Brien (1f), Diarmuid Ryan 0-2 each, Cathal Quinn, Ronan Power, Shane Meehan 0-1 each.
Scorers for University of Limerick: Gearoid O’Connor 1-8 (6fs, 1 sideline, 1 65), Sean O’Hanlon 0-2, Adam English, Brian O’Grady, Colin Coughlan, Colm O’Meara, Ian Byrne 0-1 each.

Mary Immaculate College: Jason Gillane (Patrickswell, Limerick); Adam Hogan (Feakle, Clare), Keith Ryan (Upperchurch-Drombane, Tipperary), PJ Fanning (Mount Sion, Waterford); Joe Caesar (Holycross-Ballycahill, Tipperary), Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe, Clare), Ronan Power (Ballygunner, Waterford); Cathal Quinn (Cashel King Cormacs, Tipperary), Conor Hennessy (Nenagh Eire-Og, Tipperary); Colin O’Brien (C) (Chuchtown Liscarroll Gaels, Cork), Devon Ryan (Cashel King Cormacs, Tipperary), Fionn McDonagh (Moycullen, Galway); Vince Harrington (Na Piarsaigh, Limerick) Shane O’Brien (Kilmallock, Limerick), Shane Meehan (The Banner, Clare).

Subs: Diarmuid Cahill (Corofin, Clare) for Hennessey (46); Eoin Craddock (Holycross Ballycahill, Tipperary) for Harrington (51); Caoimhin Marren (Gort, Galway) for McDonagh (59).

University of Limerick: Conor Hanley Clarke (Kilmallock, Limerick); Fergal O’Connor (Effin, Limerick), TJ Brennan (Clarinbridge, Galway), Darragh Lohan (Wolfe Tones, Clare); Cian Galvin (Clarecastle, Clare), Mark Fitzgerald (Passage East, Waterford), Colin Coughlan (Ballybrown, Limerick); Brian O’Grady (Kilteely Dromkeen, Limerick), Brian O’Sullivan (Kanturk, Cork); Adam English (Doon, Limerick), Gearóid O’Connor (Moyne/Templetuohy, Tipperary), Sean O’Hanlon (Turloughmore, Galway); Mark Rodgers (Scariff, Clare), Aidan O’Connor (Ballybrown, Limerick).

Subs: Ian Bryne (Glenmore, Kilkenny) (0-1) for A O’Connor (h-t); Colm O’Meara (Clonlara, Clare) (0-1) for Sampson (35); John Conneally (Clooney Quin, Clare) for Coughlan (56); Patrick O’Donovan (Effin, Limerick) for Byrne (59), Ross Hayes (Crusheen, Clare) for O’Grady (60).
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow).