University of Limerick 4-16 IT Carlow 0-19

UL lived up to their pre-game favourites tag with a comfortable nine-point victory over IT Carlow in the Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final at the WIT Arena, Carriganore.

This is a star-studded UL team which performed as well on the field as it looked on paper.

Tipperary stars Jason Forde and John McGrath hit a combined 3-09 over the 60 minutes and, try as they might, the DJ Carey-managed Carlow side just couldn’t match the scoring power of their opponents.

The teams were level seven times in the opening 20 minutes with Michéal Harney and Kevin Hannafin impressive for Carlow in defence, while both Cathal Dunbar and Martin Kavanagh thrived in attack.

However in the 27th minute John McGrath slalomed his way through the Carlow defence before passing to county colleague Jason Forde who goaled from close range, 1-11 to 0-09.

UL bainisteoir Gary Kirby had the luxury of introducing Na Piarsaigh star Ronan Lynch when Clare senior David Fitzgerald limped out the fray with an injury as his side held a five point advantage at the break, 1-12 to 0-10.

IT Carlow battled gamely in the third quarter and reduced the margin to two points by the 44th minute with a succession of points from Martin Kavanagh (two), Mark Russell and Richie Leahy.

Once again the quality of UL came to the fore with two goals in two minutes from John McGrath and substitute Pat Ryan effectively deciding the game as the Limerick students now led 3-14 to 0-15.

IT Carlow went looking for goals themselves but a resolute UL defence superbly led by Sean Finn and Gearoid Hegarty didn’t yield an inch.

With time almost elapsed, Jason Forde completed an impressive outing by crashing a penalty past Enda Rowland after Michael Mullins was dragged down in the small square.

UL: David McCarthy, Aidan McGuane, Conor Cleary, Sean Finn, Barry Heffernan, David Fitzgerald, Gearoid Hegarty, Tony Kelly (0-02), Paul Maher, Ian Galvin (0-2), Kevin O’Brien (0-01), Tom Morrissey (0-01), John McGrath (1-04), Jason Forde (2-05, 1-00p, 0-02f, 0-01’65), Barry Murphy (0-01).

Subs: Ronan Lynch for David Fitzgerald (24m), Pat Ryan (1-0) for Barry Murphy (38m), Michael Mullins for Paul Maher (53m), Stephen Roche for Kevin O’Brien (60m).

IT Carlow: Enda Rowland, Shane Reck, Kevin Hannafin, Ross Brown, Michael Redmond, James Doyle, Micheal Harney, Colin Dunford (0-02), Richard Leahy (0-02), Sean Downey, Martin Kavanagh (0-08, 0-5f), Charles Dwyer, Jack Fagan (0-01) , Mark Russell (0-03), Cathal Dunbar (0-03).

Subs: Seamus Casey for Sean Downey (49m).

Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork).