Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup s/final: UL through to another final:

Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final
University of Limerick 1-18 University of Galway 0-20

By Tom Clancy at Gurteen, Clare

University of Limerick can become the first side since UCC un 1998, to win three Fitzgibbon Cup titles in a row, after qualifying for Saturday’s decider.

Familiar foes, University of Galway, who they’ve defeated in the last two deciders, proved stellar opponents, but it took Killian Sampson’s late effort to end their dreams.

It extends the Galway University’s wait for the coveted silverware, which they last won in 2014.

For UL, they’ve not lost a game since the competition returned post-covid, but will feel relieved having survived late on, especially when reduced to 14 men.

Playing without Adam English, who received a red card with 10 minutes remaining, Brian Ryan’s charges had to dig deep. After they levelled in the additional four minutes the final say went to Sampson who showed the value of the panel, having been introduced.

Prior to that, University of Galway led 0-10 to 0-8 in a cagey opening half. Gearoid O’Connor with the pick of the scores for a wasteful UL, while Niall Collins and Greg Thomas raised white flags for Galway.

Captain Mark Rodgers benefited from a slip, and found the only goal just three minutes into the second half, and UL never trailed from here.

Scores from Colin Coughlan, English and Rodgers threatened to pull them clear, but Niall and Liam Collins continued to fight back. Both sides went deep into their panels on a testing evening in Clare.

The favourites, UL, couldn’t shake their rivals, but they rarely looked like conceding a goal which could have turned this contest entirely.

When English received his second yellow, Galway arrested some control, but UL still found scores. The most memorable was a Rodgers effort, after an accurate Conor Hanley Clarke effort found the evasive Scariff man.

Trailing by two entering stoppage time, Gavin Lee and Liam Collins tied this game.

Sampson, normally a wing-back, showed all his quality when blocking a clearance, picking the ball and shooting over from range to set up an all Limerick final. Galway did have one last effort which tailed wide, the third year in a row the Shannonsiders have ended their hopes.

Scorers for University of Limerick: Gearoid O’Connor 0-6 (0-3f, 0-1 ’65); Mark Rodgers 1-3; Colin Coughlan, Sean O’Hanlon 0-2 each; Cian Galvin, Diarmuid Hanniffy, Adam English, Colm O’Meara, Killian Sampson 0-1 each.

Scorers for University of Galway: Niall Collins 0-9 (0-8 frees); Greg Thomas, Colm Molloy, Liam Collins 0-2 each; Alex Connaire, Liam Leen, Conor Walsh, Tiernan Kileen, Gavin Lee 0-1 each.

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); Patrick O’Donovan (Effin, Limerick), Gearóid O’Connor (Moyne/Templetuohy, Tipperary), Diarmuid Hanniffy (Oranmore, Galway); Adam English (Doon, Limerick), Mark Rodgers (Scariff, Clare), Aidan O’Connor (Ballybrown, Limerick).

Subs: Sean O’Hanlon (Turloughmore, Galway) for Hanniffy (35), Colm O’Meara (Clonlara, Galway) for O’Donovan (38), Killian Sampson (Shinrone, Offaly) for O’Grady (51), Ian Byrne (Glenmore, Kilkenny) for A O’Connor, Ross Hayes (Crusheen, Clare) for O’Sullivan (57).

University of Galway (Galway unless stated): ***Mark Hardiman (Athenry); Darren Morrissey (Sarsfields), Eoin Lawless (Athenry), Kieran Hanrahan (Loughrea); Tiernan Killeen (Loughrea), Dan Loftus (Turloughmore), Shane Morgan (Loughrea); Ian McGlynn (Kilconieron), Liam Leen (Clarinbridge); Alex Connaire (Sarsfields), Gavin Lee (Clarinbridge), Conor Walsh (Turloughmore); Colm Molloy (Leitrim Kilnadeema), Greg Thomas (Castlegar), Niall Collins (Cappatagle).

Subs: Charlie Mitchell (Kilcormac Killoughey, Offaly) for Walsh (38), Colm Cunningham (Moycullen) for Leen (40); Oisin Flannery (St. Thomas’) for Connaire (41), Liam Collins (Cappataggle) for Molloy (41).

Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford)