Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup s/final: Mary I overcome SETU Waterford:

Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final
Mary Immaculate College 2-18 SETU Waterford 2-12

By Stephen Barry in Mallow

A storming first half powered Mary Immaculate College to their first Fitzgibbon Cup final since 2019 as SETU Waterford could never recover from a 10-point deficit.

Backed by a significant breeze, Shane Meehan’s goal and some tenacious defending helped the Limerick college build a lead that was never seriously in jeopardy thereafter. By the end, they had 12 different scorers on the board, led by Meehan’s 1-3.

SETU had the double blow of losing Patrick Fitzgerald, who lined out with his right leg heavily strapped, at half-time before his fellow dangerman Pádraig Fitzgerald was sent off for a second yellow card late on. They had 1-10 between them in the quarter-final but shook just a point from Mary I.

Seán Walsh and Diarmuid Cahill traded goals before Waterford’s Billy Nolan netted a consolation from the final free.

By half-time SETU had five yellow cards but just two points as they grew frustrated by their failure to break down a Mary I side with the elements in their favour.

Both those points came in the opening eight minutes of the half, from a Reuben Halloran free and a Walsh solo run, before the well dried up.

From there, Mary I stitched together the final 1-8 without reply to grow a 10-point cushion.

It was slow scoring at first, which suited SETU, at 0-4 to 0-2 after 18 minutes. That included a huge point from goalie Jason Gillane from just outside his own 45 – a good 100 metres from the opposition posts.

A flurry of scores either side of Meehan’s 25th minute goal would give the scoreboard a more lopsided complexion to reflect the conditions.

After smart points from Colin O’Brien and PJ Fanning, Meehan received the sliotar from Joe Caesar, dodged his marker, and fired to the net. The Clare attacker added a point for good measure after turning over the subsequent puck-out.

At the other end, Gavin Fives flashed a shot across goal before Shane O’Brien made it 1-9 to 0-2 at midway.

The first 20 minutes of the second half followed the same pattern. Mary I would tack on a point and SETU would reply. So it went for the opening 12 scores.

While Mary I’s total all came from play, via Meehan, Caesar, Fionn McDonagh, Shane O’Brien, Ronan Power, and Cathal Quinn, SETU were reliant on Halloran frees.

They broke the cycle in the 52nd minute when Tom Barron smartly found Walsh and from a tight angle, he powered a low shot to the far corner.

Fives and Barron followed up to trim the deficit to six, 1-16 to 1-10, but Mary I steadied with points from Conor Hennessy and Quinn.

After Pádraig Fitzgerald’s red card, there was still time for two goals in stoppage time. Mary I had the first through Cahill to kill it off after Shane O’Brien snagged a puck-out and Quinn played the linkman.

Then, with the final puck, a Nolan free found its way to the net.

Scorers for Mary I: Shane Meehan 1-3; Diarmuid Cahill 1-0; Devon Ryan (3f), Shane O’Brien 0-3 each; Cathal Quinn 0-2; Jason Gillane, PJ Fanning, Joe Caesar, Ronan Power, Conor Hennessy, Colin O’Brien, Fionn McDonagh 0-1 each.

Scorers for SETU Waterford: Reuben Halloran 0-7 (6f, 1 65); Seán Walsh 1-1; Billy Nolan 1-0 (f); Gavin Fives 0-2; Tom Barron, Pádraig Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

MARY I: Jason Gillane (Limerick); Adam Hogan (Clare), Keith Ryan (Tipperary), PJ Fanning (Waterford); Diarmuid Ryan (Clare), Conor Hennessy (Tipperary), Ronan Power (Waterford); Cathal Quinn (Tipperary), Daithí Lohan (Clare); Colin O’Brien (Cork), Devon Ryan (Tipperary), Fionn McDonagh (Galway); Joe Caesar (Tipperary), Shane O’Brien (Limerick), Shane Meehan (Clare).

Subs: Vince Harrington (Limerick) for Lohan (30+1), Eoin Craddock (Tipperary) for McDonagh (47), Diarmuid Cahill (Clare) for Devon Ryan (51), Seán Whelan (Limerick) for Meehan (60+4), Ciarán Lloyd (Tipperary) for Fanning (60+5).

SETU WATERFORD: Barry Hennessy (Limerick); Cathal King (Offaly), Tom Barron (Waterford), Billy Power (Waterford); Conor Ryan (Waterford), Pauric Wickham (Wexford), Gary Cullinane (Waterford); Josh Fitzgerald (Waterford), Willie Beresford (Waterford); Gavin Fives (Waterford), Robbie Hanley (Limerick), Reuben Halloran (Waterford); Seán Walsh (Cork), Patrick Fitzgerald (Waterford), Pádraig Fitzgerald (Waterford).

Subs: Billy Nolan (Waterford) for Patrick Fitzgerald (h-t, inj), Jamie Harkin (Kilkenny) for Hanley (48), William Halpin (Kilkenny) for Wickham (52).

Referee: Ciarán O’Regan (Cork).