UCC crowned Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup champions
Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup final
UCC 0-18 IT CARLOW 2-11
By Paul Keane at DCU sports grounds
UCC are Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup champions for the 40th time and the tournament's most successful team having retained their title in dramatic circumstances.
Trailing for the majority of the game against DJ Carey's IT Carlow, and only drawing level for the first time with three minutes to go, they ultimately capped a courageous comeback with a one-point win.
That winning point was scored by Kerry's Shane Conway who was terrific throughout, sniping 0-9, and particularly late on when UCC reeled off seven points without reply between the 47th and 62nd minutes to win it.
Cork duo Shane Kingston and Darragh Fitzgibbon also hit crucial points during that siege of scoring that broke IT Carlow's brave bid for a maiden title.
It was all the more impressive from UCC as they were reduced to 14 in the 50th minute when Niall O'Leary was shown a straight red card following an incident that left Chris Nolan on the turf.
But it was desperately tough on IT Carlow who suffered the same fate in the Sigerson Cup final at the same ground when their flagship footballers were beaten by tournament hosts DCU.
They couldn't have asked for a better start, hitting the net twice in the opening eight minutes through Seamus Casey and Liam Blanchfield.
Casey, their top scorer with 1-4, did brilliantly to get a kicked shot away down the left which hit the net and when Kilkenny's Blanchfield raced clear down the right and shot off his left side to hit the net minutes later, they were on their way to a 2-2 to 0-2 lead.
IT Carlow made good use of the strong wind at this stage though UCC dug in to score five of the game's next six points and it kept them right in the thick of it.
IT Carlow responded with points from Casey and goalkeeper Enda Rowland, the latter a monster free from his own half, to lead 2-5 to 0-7 at half-time.
The margin was out to six points again early in the third quarter when Stephen Bergin and Nolan pointed for IT Carlow and they were still five to the good with 47 minutes on the clock thanks in part to a wonderful Nolan solo score.
When UCC's O'Leary saw red minutes later, it looked as if IT Carlow might land the title that few expected at the beginning of the campaign but they were overwhelmed by UCC's powerful late surge.
Conway refused to accept defeat and converted four frees in the run in along with one from play while Fitzgibbon scored an inspirational point when he intercepted a pass and boomed the ball downfield and over the bar before pulling up with apparent cramp soon after.
Conway's ninth point of the evening left two in it though IT Carlow's Rowland reduced the gap to the minimum in the fourth minute of stoppage time when his attempt at goal was deflected over the bar.
Then, in the 66th minute, Tipperary man Jerry Kelly, who played and starred for Borris-Ileigh in last month's AIB All-Ireland senior club final at nearby Croke Park, cut a sideline ball expertly but it sailed wide as UCC held on for a memorable win.
UCC scorers: Shane Conway 0-9 (0-7f), Shane Kingston 0-4, Darragh Fitzgibbon 0-2, Paddy O'Loughlin 0-1 (0-1f), Mark Kehoe 0-1, N Montgomery 0-1
IT Carlow scorers: Seamus Casey 1-4 (0-4f), Liam Blanchfield 1-0, Chris Nolan 0-3, Enda Rowland 0-2 (0-2f), Stephen Bergin 0-1, Jerry Kelly 0-1.
UCC: Shane Hurley; Killian O'Dwyer, Robert Downey, David Lowney; Paddy Cadell, Paddy O'Loughlin, David Griffin; Darragh Fitzgibbon; Mark Coleman, Niall O'Leary; Robbie O'Flynn, Conor Boylan, Shane Conway; Shane Kingston, Mark Kehoe. Subs: Neil Montgomery for O'Flynn 33, Mikey O'Halloran for Kehoe 37, Bill Sheehan for Boylan 53, Andrew Casey for Fitzgibbon 61.
IT Carlow: Enda Rowland; Sean Downey, Shane Reck, Fergal Hayes; Podge Delaney, Jason Cleere, Micheal Harney; Richie Leahy, Luke Scanlon; Chris Nolan, Jerry Kelly, Cathal Dunbar; Stephen Bergin, Liam Blanchfield, Seamus Casey. Subs: Rory Higgins for Blanchfield 26.
Referee: James Owens (Wexford).