DCU 2-20 DIT 1-12

DCU advanced to their first ever Fitzgibbon Cup final with a deserved victory over DIT at Parnell Park.

Both sides were bidding to reach the decider for the first time but it was DCU who held an edge throughout and never trailed in this semi-final.

DCU made a perfect start when Donal Burke soloed through to drill home a low shot to the net for the opening score of the game after less than two minutes.

A lot of DIT’s campaign has been built around the accuracy of Niall O’Brien and the Westmeath player responded with a pointed free and one from play.

But these scores were cancelled at the other end as Patrick Curran opened his account with a good point and John Donnelly added another to leave it 1-02 to 0-02 after eight minutes.

Neither side held back in the exchanges and O’Brien cut the gap to the minimum with a couple of frees, before Burke’s first free of the night left DCU ahead by 1-03 to 0-04 at the end of a lively opening quarter.

DIT goalkeeper Sean Brennan produced a good save to deny John Donnelly and he also had to be sharp to deal with a goal effort late in the half from Burke.

But DCU pulled away to lead by 1-06 to 0-04 after 22 minutes thanks to another couple of frees from Burke and a second point of the night from Waterford’s Patrick Curran.

Once again it was O’Brien who hauled DIT back into the contest when he tapped over a couple of frees and when Burke pointed a 65 after he was denied a goal by Brennan, O’Brien cut the gap to a goal at the break with a free from 20 metres.

DCU also started the second-half in blistering fashion with three points in two and a half minutes as Donnelly, Fergal Whitely and Burke found their range.

They didn’t relent and two more frees from Burke and another from Donnelly pushed them 1-13 to 0-07 in front after 38 minutes.

Derek McNicholas became the first player other than his Westmeath colleague O’Brien to score when he landed a good effort from distance after 39 minutes,

But DCU again responded well with Peter Hogan getting in for their second goal and points from Paul Kelly and Fergal Whitely put them into a commanding 2-15 to 0-08 lead going into the final quarter.

DIT never gave up and a goal from O’Brien gave them some hope but they never looked like closing the gap and DCU ran out deserving winners to reach their first Fitzgibbon Cup final.

DCU: Oisin Foley (Wexford); Paul O’Dea (Dublin), Eoghan O’Donnell (Dublin), Conor McSweeney (Limerick); Aaron Maddock (Wexford), Conor Delaney (Kilkenny), Paudie Foley (Wexford); Darren Mullen (Kilkenny), Joe O’Connor (Wexford) (0-02); Conor Burke (Dublin), Killian Doyle (Westmeath), Donal Burke (Dublin) (1-10, 0-7f, 0-02 ’65); John Donnelly (Kilkenny) (0-03), Rian McBride (Dublin), Patrick Curran (Waterford) (0-02).

Subs: Fergal Whitely (Dublin) (0-02) for O’Dea (16), Peter Hogan (Waterford) (1-00) for C Burke (30), Daire Grey (Dublin) for Doyle (40), Paul Kelly (Dublin) (0-01) for McBride (43).

DIT: Sean Brennan (Dublin); Warren Kavanagh (Wicklow), Thomas Doyle (Westmeath), Phillip Cass (Kilkenny); Liam Blanchfield (Kilkenny), Derek McNicholas (Westmeath) (0-03, 0-01f), Luke Kelly (Dublin); Justin Cahill (Tipperary), Eoghan Dunne (Wexford); Fiontan McGibb (Dublin), Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher (Tipperary), Niall Mitchell (Westmeath); Niall O’Brien (Westmeath) (1-09, 0-07f), Robbie Greville (Westmeath), Conor Ryan (Dublin).

Subs: Niall Walsh (Kilkenny) for Greville (36), Joe Kelly (Kilkenny) for Cass (46), Cian O’Donoghue (Kilkenny) for Ryan (53), Jonathan McGurk for Cahill (57).

Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway).