IT Carlow 5-14 Mary Immaculate 0-15

Second-half goals from Stephen Bergin and Liam Blanchfield in the space of a minute secured IT Carlow's place in Wednesday’s Fitzgibbon Cup final with a convincing victory over Mary Immaculate at the DCU Sportsgrounds.

The free-taking of Cathal Bourke looked to have put the Limerick side in control in the first-half, but Cathal Dunbar’s 23rd minute goal turned the game in favour of DJ Carey’s side, while Dunbar and Chris Nolan skewed the winning margin in added-time with their side’s fourth and fifth goals.

Mary I sprung a bit of a surprise from the throw in with Cork’s Tim O’Mahony stationed at full forward, but the big story of the opening exchanges was the weather conditions.

A powerful, diagonal wind played havoc with the action early on and it took some time for the teams to come to grips with it. IT Carlow had any advantage there was from the wind in that first half and they raced into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead after four minutes.

A free and a point from Seamus Casey got them up and running, before Jerry Kelly – who featured for Borris Ileigh in the All-Ireland club final recently – struck their third score.

Tipperary native Cathal Bourke was on free taking duty for Mary I but he missed his first one from distance, although from the puckout that followed Shane Ryan got the Limerick side off the mark. O’Mahony was causing plenty of trouble in the full-forward line and only an Enda Rowland save denied him a goal in the tenth minute.

Tim O'Mahony of Mary Immaculate College Limerick in action against Sean Downey of IT Carlow

But Mary I began to find their groove. A Bourke free was cancelled out by a fine Richie Leahy effort at the other end, but the next three points were scored by Mary I as Bourke twice mastered the wind, before Clare’s Gary Cooney drilled over a great score from long range to make it 0-5 to 0-4.

Cooney then almost laid on a goal for Andrew Ormond, but the corner forward batted inched wide, and after Rowland landed the first of two long range frees for IT Carlow, scores from Bourke and Cooney gave Mary I a two-point lead.

It appeared that the Limerick college had figured out IT Carlow at that stage, but seven minutes from the break the game turned again. A long ball from Podge Delaney was fielded by Dunbar and he fired an unstoppable shot across Jason Gillane into the top corner to reclaim the lead.

Mary I’s reply was powerful though and Bourke scored the last three points of the half to give them a 0-11 to 1-7 interval lead.

It only took IT Carlow two minutes to level after the restart when Casey landed his second point from play, and he gave his side lead six minutes later with a well struck free from half-way.

With O’Mahony becoming an ever increasing force in the game Mary I reclaimed the lead and were two clear by the 43rd minute, but it all changed in the space of a minute.

Midway through the second half Dunbar’s shot was saved by Gillane but Bergin poked it over the line. A minute later Blanchfield was hooked following his brilliant high catch, but he whipped a ground stroke to the net to put IT Carlow 3-10 to 0-14 ahead.

IT Carlow continued to build their lead with Casey frees, while Kelly and Eoin Gaughan made sure of their place in the final with late points, and the late goals in added time inflicted further pain on Mary I.

IT Carlow: Enda Rowland (0-02, 0-02f); Fergal Hayes, Sean Downey, Shane Reck; Podge Delaney, Jason Cleere, Michael Harney; Richie Leahy (0-02), Luke Scanlon; Chris Nolan (1-01), Jerry Kelly (0-02), Cathal Dunbar (2-00); Rory Higgins, Liam Blanchfield (1-00), Seamus Casey (0-06, 0-04f).

Subs: Stephen Bergin (1-00) for Higgins (42), Eoin Gaughan (0-01) for Blanchfield (55), Dion Wall for Harney (60), Thomas Nolan for Casey (61).

Mary I: Jason Gillane; Ray McCormack, David Prendergast, Eanna McBride; Craig Morgan, Darren Browne, Eoghan Cahill; Diarmaid Ryan, Josh Considine; Cathal Bourke (0-09, 0-08f, 0-01’65), Gary Cooney (0-02), Shane Ryan (0-01); Andrew Ormond, Tim O’Mahony (0-03, 0-02f), Colin O’Brien. 

Subs: Adam Ennis for O’Brien (54), Philip Wall for Bourke (55), Michael O’Loughlin for Cahill (59).Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow).