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University of Limerick celebrate after defeating Limerick IT in the Electric Ireland Freshers Division 1 Hurling Final. 
University of Limerick celebrate after defeating Limerick IT in the Electric Ireland Freshers Division 1 Hurling Final. 

University of Limerick crowned Freshers hurling champions

Electric Ireland Freshers Division 1 Hurling Final

University of Limerick 3-17 Limerick Institute of Technology 1-10

By Páraic McMahon

For the first time in four years, UL are the Freshers Hurling national champions thanks to their 15-point win over neighbouring rivals LIT.

After back to back defeats in finals to DCU, it was definitely worth the wait as Monaleen’s Conor Nicholas lifted the trophy one month on from the original fixture.

Though the final scoreline would not suggest it, the first half saw very little separate the sides, one point in fact at the sounding of Cathal McAllister’s half-time whistle.

Level five times in the first half, late points from Joe Fogarty and Ciaran Comerford gave UL a one point cushion at the interval.

Cathal Ruane, who worked hard in the inside line, got his reward on the eighteenth minute, striking for the opening goal of the game. While a superb individual effort from Daniel Ryan saw the Tipperary man slot the ball in the bottom right hand corner of Eoin Davis’ goal to ensure it wasn’t all one way traffic.

Billy Seymour, who finished the hour with a nine point tally, got LIT up and running in the second half. His only score from play was the equaliser but, crucially, would be one of only three scores from Brian Culbert’s men in the second half while their counterparts hit 2-10.

Midleton’s Tommy O’Connell was reliable from placed balls punishing any inch of indiscipline, this helped to put UL in the driving seat with goals from Billy Power and Oisin Flannery coming at either side of the midway stage in the half sucking any bit of life from their opponents.

Although the defeat will hurt LIT, the fact that this is their first appearance in the Freshers All-Ireland Final is a positive sign for the third level institute. They had players from seven different counties lining out for them with Brian Staunton, Michael Grace, Billy Seymour and Daniel Ryan doing well in patches. Opportunities for redemption will present themselves in future Fitzgibbon Cup ties.

On the back of previous final defeats, UL needed this win. Add in the college’s disappointing attempt at retaining the Fitzgibbon Cup and getting over the line here stands out as a highlight in their year.

They won the battle in the air mainly through Mark Power and Bryan O’Mara in the half-back line and on the ground with Killian McDermott lively from start to finish. While, up front, Tommy O’Connell and Oisin Flannery did the business to secure the title.

Scorers UL: Tommy O'Connell 0-9 (7frees, 1 65), Cathal Ruane and Oisin Flannery 1-1 each, Billy Power 1-0, Niall Brennan and Joe Fogarty 0-2 each, Ciaran Comerford and Killian McDermott 0-1 each.

Scorers LIT: Billy Seymour 0-9 (8frees), Daniel Ryan 1-1.

UL: Eoin Davis; Conor Flahive, Ross Hayes, Conor O’Callaghan; Rory Duff, Bryan O’Mara, Mark Nolan; Killian McDermott,Ciaran Comerford; Joe Fogarty, Oisin Flannery, Billy Power; Tommy O’Connell, Cathal Ruane, Niall Brennan. Subs:Tom O’Rourke for Ruane (51), Conor Nicholas(Capt) for Flahive), Jack Reck for Power (60)

LIT: Louis Dee; Paul O’Heaney, Michael Grace, Colm Flaherty; Barry Mahony, Ciaran Whelan, Brian Staunton; Josh McCarthy, Ciaran Keenan; Cathal Lynch, Conor Donohue, Daniel Ryan; Conor McCarthy, Billy Seymour, Ross Bonnar. Subs: Adam Healy for J McCarthy (41), Conor Dolan for Keenan (49), Shane Normoyle for C McCarthy (57)

Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork)

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