Fitzgibbon Cup 2012 – Semi-Finals

C.I.T. 0-17 L.I.T. 1-9 

C.I.T.: K. Roche; B. Withers; S. McDonnell; S. Daniels (E. Keane); S. White; L. McLoughlin; P. O’Connor; J. Coughlan; M. O’Sullivan (0-1; N. Kelly); J. Cronin (0-2); D. Drake (A. Walsh); P. Gould (0-3); C. Fennelly (0-2); P. O’Sullivan (0-4; 0-1f); T. Quaid (0-5f; D. Lordan).

L.I.T.: A. Fahy; E. Glynn; R. McCarthy; B. Glynn; J. Hayes; J. O’Keeffe; P. O’Brien (0-1); P. Browne (0-1); S. Lambert; S. O’Brien; C. Madden; E. Ryan (1-5; 0-3f); C. McInerney; R. Horan (0-2; M. Duggan); C. O’Connell.

C.I.T. convincingly beat a weak L.I.T. team today in the opening semi-final of the Fitzgibbon cup. L.I.T., short of their star forwards Joe Canning and Sean Collins, were badly short of physicality and firepower up front, and almost entirely reliant on Eoin Ryan in this sector of the pitch. In reality the game was over just after half-time as C.I.T. suffocated their opponents of possession, a very late L.I.T. goal putting a gloss on the scoreboard for the Limerick men. For C.I.T., it was another hard-working team performance that – considering the lack of pace and intensity in the second half – will set them up nicely for the final.

As noted, L.I.T. were badly lacking up front, with only Eoin Ryan and to a lesser extent Seanie O’Brien impressing. Neither of the Clare corner-forwards – McInerney and O’Connell, usually two decent operators – had any impact and much of the nice passing and good work done out the pitch by the likes of Paul Browne and Paudie O’Brien was undone by a real lack of edge up front. Moreover, as the game grew L.I.T. struggled more and more to win possession in the middle of the pitch while their Tipp inter-county star center-back John O’Keeffe had little to no impact on the game. Only Ryan, the two O’Briens and to a lesser extent Horan and McCarthy really had positive games – it was a shame that both Canning and Collins were missing however, as it was clear in the first half L.I.T. were capable of playing a nice brand of hurling.

For C.I.T., there were numerous excellent individual displays. Stephan McDonnell again put in a assured display at full-back, while Withers in the corner was solid. However it was the C.I.T. half-back line that really won the game, with McLoughlin and in particular Stephen White excelling throughout. Elsewhere Michael O’Sullivan toiled hard in the middle of the pitch while John Cronin pilfered two points from half-forward and Tommy Quaid was fairly accurate from the deadball. Up front Paudi O’Sullivan, Padraig Gould and to a lesser extent Colin Fennelly offered the kind of class badly lacking in L.I.T.’s attack while substitutes like Aidan Walsh and Eoin Keane further show the depth C.I.T. have in their squad. By and large it was another industrious team performance from a C.I.T. side that seem to have developed a knack for putting in consistent, complete performances whatever the competition.

UCC 1-15 U.L. 0-15 

U.C.C.: D. McCarthy; S. Maher; J. O’Callaghan; K. Murphy; J. Barry; D. Fives; W. Egan (0-2; 0-1f); P. Mahoney; B. Murray (0-1; B. Hartnett); P. O’Mahoney (1-8; 1-5f); D. McCormack; S. Harnedy (D. Brosnan); S. Bourke (0-2);  S. Moylan; B. O’Sullivan (0-2).

U.L.: T. Lowry; P. Stapleton; M. Walsh; C. Fogarty; L. Ryan; B. Bulger; P. Maher; L. Markham (J. Regan); M. Walsh (P. Walsh); B. Beckett (0-2); C. Donnellan (0-1; J. Gallagher 0-2); D. Butler (0-1; R. Cummins); J. Coen (0-2); M. Heffernan; C. McGrath (07; 0-3f).

Despite completely dominating the opening half – a half in which they spurned at least three clear cut goal chances – and being six points ahead at half-time UCC nearly managed to lose out to UL in the Mardyke today in an high quality Fitzgibbon semi-final.  U.L. managed to make a comeback thanks to the displays of Padraig Maher at center-back, Conor McGrath in attack and the numerous bad wides UCC hit in the second half. Indeed if it wasn’t for some strong rearguard back-against-the-walls play from the likes of O’Callaghan  and Egan UCC could have lost a game in which they should have been twelve plus points ahead at half-time. Finally, UCC looked completely drained – with numerous players cramping up – in the closing ten minutes, something C.I.T. didn’t display in a far less intense game.

For, U.L. it was very much a mixed performance. They should have been well behind at half-time – to be fair, Wadding was giving almost everything to UCC in the opening half – but lax UCC finishing in front of goal kept them in the game going into the second half. The move of Padraig Maher to center-back ensured UL began to properly dominate in the half-back line while the exceptional Conor McGrath terrorised the UCC defense with the help of Coen, Beckett and sub Gallagher. Moreover UL’s full-back line tightened up considerably after the break. However, UL pretty much never looked like getting the goal they badly needed and their closest chance in this respect was stopped by a last ditch Bourke block.

Similarly, UCC produced a mixed display over the two halves. At times scintillating in the first half, the movement of Moylan and Bourke in particular along with the finishing of Waterford’s O’Mahoney really took UL apart and with better finishing Moylan could have had two goals and Brian Murray one. In the second half UCC never really got going – however the half-back line of Barry/Fives/Egan was constantly strong throughout, Egan in particular winning numerous balls in the air and often driving forward, once even pointing from distance a ball he won well in UCC’s half. Elsewhere it wasn’t quite Seamus Harnedy’s day who, despite winning some good ball, hit numerous bad wides, a problem for UCC as a whole in the second half. Bourke, Moylan and O’Mahoney made up the threat up front for UCC, the first two working exceptionally hard from beginning to end and tracking back late into the game while O’Mahoney was excellent from deadballs and scored some sublime points from play. All in all though it was the performances of UCC’s half-back line and in particular that of William Egan that dragged them over the line.

The UL subs/scorers are a little off, I’ll sort them out tomorrow.

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