Friday, February 02, 2018

IT Carlow win the first battle
in race for Fitzgibbon glory


IT Carlow 1-22

Mary Immaculate, Limerick 0-22

By Charlie Keegan

IT Carlow put a poor start behind them to put in a magnificent overall performance which saw DJ Carey’s men claim a fully merited three-point win over defending Fitzgibbon Cup holders Mary Immaculate of Limerick in this opening round tie at Heywood Community School grounds on Sunday.

Sunday morning’s heavy rain ruled out the IT grounds in Carlow for the game which was switched to the astro-turf playing surface at Heywood.

And it was the holders who adapted to the conditions much better in the early stages as they stormed into a 0-6 to 0-1 lead after nine minutes.

The IT Carlow hurling squad ahead of their Fitzgibbon Cup game against Mary Immaculate, Limerick at Heywood on Sunday 

IT Carlow looked in danger of being blown away such was the power, pace and scoring ability of Mary I.

But once Marty Kavanagh opened the Carlow account with a pointed free, things started to improve for Carey’s men. Marty had cut short a skiing holiday to return for the game and the St Mullins clubman proved a key figure, shooting a total of 0-9 in a highly accomplished performance, being ably supported by a clinical display of point-taking from play by left half forward Charlie Dwyer, the Ballinakill and Laois player.

This was a re-run of last year’s Fitzgibbon final in which Mary I prevailed and it proved to be a cracking, full-blooded early year tie. It was patently obvious from the level of commitment on both sides that victory was important in laying down an early marker, with both these sides expected to overcome later games against NUIG and Trinity College.

As the first half progressed, IT Carlow gained momentum and started picking off their scores, the bad start was quickly forgotten as the side buckled down in a game which produced a level of intensity one does not associate with the third Sunday in January.

Mary I, aided by the wind, held an 0-11 to 0-6 lead on 20 minutes but had lost some of their early momentum when IT Carlow struck for the game’s only goal.

Left half back Michael Harney started the move, making progress along the right wing, before off-loading to Marty Kavanagh who made tracks for goal before placing midfielder Richie Leahy. The Kilkenny senior panellist made no mistake from close range.

By half time the Mary I lead was down to a point (0-14 to 1-10) and with wind advantage to come, IT Carlow were in a good place.

The Carlow students lost corner forward Mark Russell to a straight red card for a striking offence in the early minutes of the second half. The incident also earned Mary I full back David Prendergast a yellow card.

That could have proved to be a turning point. But IT Carlow made light of the loss as their opponents never made any significant use of the extra man for the balance of play.

With their defence holding firm for the remainder of the game, and with their half back line of Michael Redmond, James Doyle and Michael Harney proving a significant barrier to the holders’ attack, they benefitted from the magnificent long-range free-taking of goalkeeper Enda Rowland of Laois, who landed three monster dead-ball efforts.

IT Carlow took the lead for the first time following an outstanding passage of play involving James Doyle, Waterford’s Colin Dunford who placed midfield colleague Ritchie Leahy for the lead point (1-14 to 0-16) as the game entered the final quarter.

With the wind in their sails and at their backs IT Carlow went into a four-point lead on two occasions and went on to record a deserved victory in what was a hurling game of the highest order.

Colin Lynch, the Limerick county senior player, always posed a scoring threat while countyman Aaron Gillane was deadly accurate from placed balls. They remain a formidable side and will, no doubt, be hard to separate from the Fitzgibbon silverware.

But round one has gone to IT Carlow and they will go forward with a definite spring in their step.

In the other game in Fitzgibbon Cup Group D, NUI Galway beat Trinity College by 2-22 to 0-13. This Thursday (25 January) IT Carlow play NUI Galway in Dangan at 2pm and on Thursday 1 February IT Carlow travel to Santry to play Trinity College (2pm).The quarter-finals take place on Wednesday 7 February.

IT Carlow: E Rowland (0-3 frees); S Reck, K Hannafin, R Brown; M Redmond, J Doyle, M Harney; C Dunford (0-1), R Leahy (1-1); S Downey (0-1), M Kavanagh (0-9, 0-7 frees, 0-1 65), C Dwyer (0-6); M Russell, J Fagan, C Dunbar (0-1)

Mary Immaculate: E Cahill (0-3 frees); C McCullagh, D Prendergast, C Stapleton; D Browne, S Taylor (0-1), T Grimes (0-1); J Mackey, L Meade (0-2); A Gillane  (0-7, 0-6 frees, 0-1 65), C Lynch (0-5), P Ryan; G Cooney (0-1), T O’Mahony (0-1), B Corry. Subs: C Guilfoyle for Corry (0-1) (45 mins); N Heffernan for Ryan (51 mins)

Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow)

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