Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup SF: IT Carlow win thriller
Independent.ie Fitzgibbon Cup Semi-Final
IT Carlow 2-20 UCC 1-20 - After extra-time
By Declan Rooney at Dangan, Galway
Colin Dunford scored a goal in the second period of extra-time to send IT Carlow into the Fitzgibbon Cup final for the first time in their history.
In a frantic finish UCC tried to find the levelling goal as Mark O’Connor dropped a free into the square, but DJ Carey’s excellent side cleared their lines and deservedly reached the decider.
It was a pulsating clash played in a windy, wet Dangan. Kevin Kelly’s goal four minutes from the end of normal time looked to have sealed the win for Carlow, only for John Power to hit the net for UCC and Michael Breen to force extra-time with two great points.
This was a game where IT Carlow showed all the best skills of the game. Their high fielding was top class, they tackled in packs and they fought hard for their scores. It was no surprise that once they took a second-minute lead through the brilliant Stephen ‘Picky’ Maher that they never trailed.
IT Carlow were 0-10 to 0-8 ahead at the interval, as Maher, Chris Bolger and Martin Kavanagh all found the target, while Meath native Jack Fagan caused huge trouble inside with his physical presence.
Rob O’Shea was a threat at the other end for UCC and his point just after half-time cut IT Carlow’s lead down to a point. But in a crucial period, IT Carlow hit three points in a row as Bolger and Maher again added to their tallies.
But again the game swung, and four points without reply from UCC meant the teams were level with nine minutes remaining.
Then came the first goal for IT Carlow when Kelly flicked to the net after a hook and a great Jack Barry save had denied him earlier.
In the other goal, Enda Rowland denied Alan Cadagon with a great save, but Power finished off the rebound, and the powerful Breen sent the game to extra-time, as it finished 1-15 to 1-15.
IT Carlow showed huge spirit, fought for every ball and two more Maher points and one from Kelly meant they led by one, 1-18 to 1-17 at the midway point.
But they key score of the game came in the first-minute of the second period. Martin Kavanagh was brilliant in the build up, and his long handpass sent Dunford in on goal, and he made no error from close range. UCC did reply with a couple of points, but each time they did Maher and Bolger hit back to clinch victory.
Scorers for IT Carlow: S Maher 0-11 (6fs, 1’65), C Bolger 0-4, K Kelly 1-1, C Dunford 1-0, M Kavanagh 0-2, J Fagan 0-1, E Rowland 0-1 (1f).
Scorers for UCC: R O’Shea 0-7 (5fs), M Breen 0-5, J Power 1-1, A Spillane 0-2, J Barron 0-2, A Cadagon 0-1, M O’Connor 0-1, T Devine 0-1.
IT Carlow: Enda Rowland (Laois); Dwane Palmer (Laois), Kevin Hannaffin (Kerry), Ross Brown (Waterford); James Doyle (Carlow), Damien Healy (Meath), Dale O’Hanlon (Tipeprary); Kevin Kelly (Kilkenny), Colin Dunford (Waterford); Charles Dwyer (Laois), Mark Russell (Tipperary), Martin Kavanagh (Carlow); Jack Fagan (Carlow), Jack Fagan (Waterford), Stephen Maher (Laois), Chris Bolger (Kilkenny).
Subs: Thomas Nolan (Tipperary) for Dunford (58), C Dunford for Nolan (60), T Nolan for Fagan (66), J Fagan for Kelly (75), Michael Redmond (Wexford) for Maher (75).
UCC: Jack Berry (Cork); Ian Kenny (Waterford), Colm Spillane (Cork), Shane Roche (Waterford); Semaus Kennedy (Tipperary), Conor Gleeson (Waterford), Rickard Cahalane (Cork); Jamie Barron (Waterford), Michael Breen (Tipperary); Mark O’Brien (Waterford), Tom Devine (Waterford), Gavin O’Brien (Waterford); Alan Cadagon (Cork), Anthony Spillane (Cork), Rob O’Shea (Cork).
Subs: John Power (Kilkenny) for G O’Brien (h-t), Chris O’Leary (Cork) for M O’Brien (39), Michael O’Halloran (Cork) for S Roche (39), Colm Roche (Waterford) for Spillane (57), Mark O’Connor (Cork) for Cahalane (67), Shane Hegarty (Cork) for Power (78).
Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath).