Limerick IT 1-15 UCD 2-9: UCD’s senior hurlers bowed out of the 2010 Fitzgibbon Cup at the hands of Limerick IT thanks to a marauding performance from Galway’s Joe Canning, reports Jack Logan

Despite a last-minute push from UCD, Limerick IT held on with an impressive display of both attacking prowess and solid defence to progress to the next stage of the Fitzgibbon Cup.

With a semi-final place on offer, not to mention an opportunity to make amends for their 1-13 to 0-12 defeat to LIT in the group stages last year, UCD had enough motivation to take the game to Limerick IT on their home patch, and were further buoyed by the return of captain Maurice Nolan.

UCD centre-back David Langton clears under pressure from LIT’s Joe Canning
UCD centre-back David Langton clears under pressure from LIT’s Joe Canning

The presence of Galway’s star forward Joe Canning in the LIT side loomed heavily over the game, however, and his tally of 1-09 was impressive and could even have been greater but for the sterling efforts of David Kenny in containing the Portumna man for much of the first half. David Langton and Oisin Gough also held the defence solid during the opening half, with LIT’s Seamus Callanan kept quiet by the UCD backs.

In fact, it was this same game of containment that allowed UCD to lead at the halfway point, 1-06 to 0-8, with corner-forward David O’Connor’s goal from a rebound providing the margin. Nolan extended this gap to two points within the first minute of the second period, but UCD could not maintain their level of intensity as LIT, led by the performance of Willie Hyland, began to impose themselves on the quarter-final.

Having been rested against GMIT in LIT’s last outing in the Fitzgibbon Cup, it was nine minutes before Canning notched his first point, but by the second half he was cruising, scoring the goal that pushed his team in front for the first time ten minutes into the second half. The goal was well worked – Cavan’s Bernard Gaffney deftly flicking the sliotar into Canning, who blasted it to the back of the net.

The tempo of the Limerick attack was increased as they found another gear and LIT opened up a six point margin heading towards fulltime with points from Canning, Peter Atkinson and Gaffney.

There was further drama to come as UCD’s sheer doggedness to stay with their Limerick rivals resulted in a goal from captain Maurice Nolan. It was a long-range attempt, catching the LIT defence off-guard as it dipped into the goalmouth.

The pressure up front from UCD continued to come from Dublin footballer Rory O’Carroll and Liam Rushe but ultimately they were left to rue what might have been after Maurice-Nolan’s last minute effort from a 30 metre free to force extra time was saved, as was the shot on the rebound from UCD midfielder Liam Ryan.

In fact, LIT may owe their place in the semi-final of the competition to their fullback James McInerney, who dealt superbly with both blocking Ryan’s shot and quickly dealing with the clearance. LIT can now turn their attention to the Fitzgibbon Cup finals in NUI Galway next weekend. Canning can also look to use that occasion as valuable preparation in the run up to the All-Ireland Club Final on St Patrick’s Day.

Limerick IT: M Ryan; C Chaplin, J McInerney, J Gunnings; N O’Connell (0-1), W Hyland, R Sherlock; S Collins, P O’Brien; P Browne, S Callinan (0-1), N Quinn (0-3); S Tobin, J Canning (1-9, 0-6 frees, 0-2 65s), B Gaffney (0-1).

Subs: T Dalton for Browne (38 mins), J O’Keeffe for O’Brien (47 mins).

UCD: J Ryan; E O’Shea, C Gleeson, O Gough; N Prendergast, D Langton, D Kenny; L Ryan, J Boland; M Nolan (0-3, frees), D Lyng, J Boland (0-1); R O’Carroll (0-2), P Atkinson, L Rushe (1-3, 0-2 frees).

Subs: D O’Connor (1-0) for L Ryan (22 mins), D O’Callaghan for Boland, (39 mins), R O’Loughlin for Gleeson (44 mins).