Burke brace renews UCD’s Fitzgibbon ambition


St Patrick’s-Tipperary Institute 0-9, UCD 3-28: Kevin McAlister was in Thurles as UCD advanced to the quarter final of the Fitzgibbon Cup.

UCD easily qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2009 Fitzgibbon Cup when they scored a facile victory over a hard-trying but limited St Patrick’s-Tipperary Institute team in Thurles.

The result means that UCD takes second place in their preliminary group (having earlier lost to Limerick IT) and will now face an away tie with Cork IT on Wednesday.

UCD were sluggish in the opening exchanges, with the poor condition of the Thurles pitch making life difficult for both teams. Indiscipline from UCD was punished by some accurate free-taking by the Tipperary team before PJ Nolan got UCD off the mark with two classy individual scores.

UCD then proceeded to shoot a number of wides before free-taker Maurice Nolan began to find his range as he exchanged placed ball scores with his opposite number. Nolan then shot a sweet point following an excellent pass from the lively Liam Ryan to give UCD a lead they would never relinquish.

The hard-working St Pat’s team were staying in touch with their more illustrious opponents in the early exchanges, but UCD gradually began to show their superior quality. Ciaran Lyng was denied a goal by a fine save from the Tipperary goalkeeper in the twelfth minute, but soon added a neat point from play.

Stephen Nolan then sent over a trademark long-range free, before their opponents replied with a brace of placed balls from closer range. Then came a breakthrough for UCD in the 23rd minute, when right corner-forward Keith Hogan controlled a diagonal pass before easily rounding his marker, racing through and firing home for the first goal of the game.

Tipperary responded with their first and only point from play, but UCD pulled away when a well-struck Stephen Nolan line cut was fielded by Keith Burke, who flicked home past the onrushing keeper. Burke’s score left the half-time score at 2-9 to 0-8 in the visiting team’s favour.

“The nature of UCD’s second half performance was very impressive and will add to the belief that this talented team can capture the Fitzgibbon Cup”

While UCD manager Willie Cleary was unhappy with his side’s concession of soft frees and missed scoring chances in the first half, he could have absolutely no complaints with their second half performance. UCD simply steamrollered St Pat’s, winning the second half by 1-17 to a point.

There were very few wides registered after the break, as Clara duo Liam Ryan and Keith Hogan led the way with some excellent efforts. Their club-mate David Langton also got in on the act when the classy wing-back fired over from distance. Substitute David O’Connor, with a fine effort from the left touchline, PJ Nolan and Maurice Nolan (from frees) all added to a handsome points tally before Keith Burke hammered the final nail into the Tipperary coffin.

The Wexford man profited from good work by Tim Hennessy before turkey shuffling around the goalkeeper and finishing into an empty net.

The final whistle sounded moments later, bringing an end to a most one-sided affair. The nature of UCD’s second half performance was very impressive and will add to the belief that this talented team can capture the Fitzgibbon Cup for the first time since 2001.

However, next up is a tricky away tie to Cork IT, who caused a minor upset by beating a fancied UCC team in their final group match. Should they win, UCD will be into the Fitzgibbon Cup weekend for the first time since 2006, where they will be hoping to go one better than last time, when they were heavily defeated by a star-studded Waterford IT team in the decider.

Scorers – UCD: S Gallagher 0-8, K Hogan 1-4, K Burke 2-0, P J Nolan 0-5, S Nolan 0-4, L Ryan 0-3, K Lyng, D Langton, D O’Connor 0-1 each TI/St Pats: M Lawlor 0-5, M Ryan 0-4, B Whelan 0-1.
UCD – C McDonald; P Byrne, O O’Shea, O Gough; N Prendergast, S Nolan, D Langton; J Walsh, L Ryan; P J Nolan, D Lyng, C Lyng; K Hogan, S Gallagher, K Burke.

Subs: C Gleeson for Prendergast; D O’Connor for C Lyng; T Hennessy for O’Shea.

Ti/St Pat’s –T Gleeson; J Power, A O’Dwyer, S Dorney; K Shortall, S Prendersgast, R McGann; J Darmody, D Spooner; B Whelan, M Ryan, P Matthews; M Kavanagh, M Lawlor, D Shanahan

Subs: P McKeogh for Kavanagh; B O Donoghue for White.
Ref – T Ryan, Tipperary.