Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup SF: Dramatic win for NUIG
Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup Semi-Final
NUIG 1-26 GMIT 3-18
By Cian O’Connell at Pearse Stadium
A Fitzgibbon Cup thriller unfolded in Salthill as NUIG eventually shrugged off GMIT’s spirited resistance.
GMIT, who trailed by 10 points in the 46th minute, staged a remarkable rally to force extra-time, but NUIG, inspired by Evan Niland, survived.
Niland nailed five points in extra-time for NUIG, who just did enough to secure a place in the decider against either IT Carlow or UL, who meet tomorrow.
NUIG dictated the agenda for vast chunks of the first half, eventually departing at the interval armed with a significant 1-15 to 1-6 advantage.
There was so much to admire about NUIG’s intelligent forward play with Cian Lynch providing leadership and some subtle touches of class.
The supporting cast were contributing handsomely too as Evan Niland, John Fleming, and Mark Kennedy mined neat scores.
Conor Walsh and Fionn McDonagh crafted many of those opportunities too ensuring GMIT were in real bother.
GMIT’s grit and determination was a feature of the opening period, though, and despite falling 0-6 to 0-3 behind early on the underdogs responded to draw level courtesy of a 10th minute Kevin Cooney goal.
Paddy Commins’ initial attempt spilled kindly for Cooney, who drilled a shot to the back of the NUIG net.
Jeffrey Lynskey’s charges came thundering back and were 0-8 to 1-4 ahead prior to a burst of 1-5 without reply.
That was when NUIG inflicted serious damage with Fleming plundering a 21st minute goal after Fionn McDonagh reacted sharply to gather possession.
By the time the interval rolled around NUIG were nine clear as GMIT were aware that a dramatic comeback needed to be launched.
It was what unfolded. By the 46th minute NUIG had moved 1-20 to 1-10 in front, but they only managed one more point, while GMIT struck 2-5.
Substitute Enda Egan bagged a 49th minute major to inject GMIT’s challenge with hope and they subsequently narrowed the gap to three.
An Evan Niland free put NUIG 1-21 to 2-14 in front, but a Kevin Cooney point was followed by a Jack Forde goal to force extra-time.
Niland was a central figure for NUIG and his accuracy counted for a lot when the issue was delicately poised late on.
GMIT trailed by two points late on when an Evan Duggan free was lofted into a packed square, but NUIG prevailed.
Scorers for NUIG: Evan Niland 0-16 (11fs), John Fleming 1-2, Cian Lynch, Mark Kennedy, and Fionn McDonagh 0-2 each, Jack Fitzpatrick and Oisín Flannery 0-1 each.
Scorers for GMIT: Kevin Cooney 1-10 (10fs), Jack Forde and Enda Egan 1-0 each, Conor Gardinder 0-2, Luke Prendergast, Sean McDonagh, Cianan Fahy, AJ Willis, Adam Clarke, and Paddy Commins 0-1 each
NUIG: Liam Reilly; Eoin Lawless, Jack Fitzpatrick, Conor Caulfield; Caimin Killeen, Darren Morrissey, Mark Gill; Oisín Flannery, Diarmuid Kilcommins; Conor Walsh, Evan Niland, Fionn McDonagh; Cian Lynch, John Fleming, Mark Kennedy.
Subs: Paddy Dunleavy for Morrissey (19), Ian McGlynn for Flannery (48), Cian Salmon for McDonagh (48), Philip Hickey for Kilcommins (57), Daniel Loftus for Dunleavy (60), Adrian Prendergast for Walsh (72), Liam Forde for Kennedy (77)
GMIT: Darrach Fahy; Luke Prendergast, Seán Neary, Kieran Meehan; Jack Forde, Cianan Fahy, Adam Clarke; Patrick Foley, Aaron O’Shaughnessy; Conor Gardiner, AJ Willis, Kevin Cooney; Donal Mannion, Seán McDonagh, Paddy Commins.
Subs: Enda Egan for Willis (HT), Evan Duggan for Commins (57), Peter Martin for Mannion (57), Darren Duggan for O’Shaughnessy (60), Evan Hunt for Meehan (68), Paddy Commins for Duggan (75)
REFEREE: Liam Gordon.