Relegation woe as injury-time goal condemns hurlers

GMIT 2-6

DCU 0-11

by Eoghan Cormican

At St. Loman’s

A Kealan Greene goal twenty-five seconds into injury time brought the curtain down on DCU’s short lived stay in the realms of Fitzgibbon hurling.

Played on the recently constructed astro turf pitch in Mullingar, this game ended in a welter of excitement, but the concession of a sloppy goal put paid to the hopes of DCU who were left punch drunk after showing great spirit and determination despite missing some key players for this relegation fixture.

For long spells, it looked as though DCU would claim the spoils to maintain their Fitzgibbon status, but wastefulness in front of the posts meant the Westerners were never dead and buried despite having to rely heavily on the deadball accuracy of midfielders Wayne McNamara and Jason Hanrahan.

DCU were never behind in this match and at different stages of both halves led by a margin of four points but they could never quite tighten the noose around GMIT’s neck and when they eventually broke for air in the dying minutes, the recovery was stunning.

Paul O’Brien’s side settled brilliantly into the game and less than a minute in Emmet Kent lodged a free between the posts. Indeed, by the ninth minute, DCU were four to the good thanks in the main to Emmet Kent (two frees) and Quentin Lynch.

DCU’s movement, particularly up front, was causing their opponents all sorts of problems, while further back Willie Eviston was a commanding figure in anchoring the defence.

That said, they could have – and should have – been further ahead, were it not for four wides (six in all in the first half) in this time.

The first quarter was just over when GMIT struck for their first score of the contest, a well taken goal from Conor Cannon after Damien Gallagher got a stick to Kealan Greene’s initial driven – the DCU custodian was powerless to keep out the rebound effort.

Wayne McNamara – wing back on this year’s Limerick senior team – had the teams back on level terms, but Quentin Lynch edged the Dublin University back in front with the second of his four excellent scores from play.

Sean McGrath capitalised on a poor defensive clearance subsequently to double DCU’s advantage and they maintained their slender advantage to the break. The interval hope for GMIT was certainly not in their overall first half performance, for they had been comprehensively outplayed by DCU, but rather in the scoreline statistic which only left them two behind.

The opening ten minutes of the second half saw neither side add to their tally, but two quick-fire points courtesy of Lynch and Sean McGrath had DCU four clear for the second time.

Credit to GMIT however, they refused to yield and responded with four points in an ultra productive eight minute spell to tie proceedings.

Quentin Lynch nudged DCU in front nine minutes out and when Jason Hanrahan drilled a routine free to the right of the post, the Dublin University punished the miss with Aidan Cash and Emmet Kent finding the target.

Hanrahan converted a ’65 approaching full time, but leading by 0-11 to 1-6, the feeling was that DCU would hold out for GMIT had rarely threatened Gallagher’s goal over the hour such was dominance of Eviston at full back.

However, out of nowhere, a probing delivery from Conor Cannon caused pandemonium in the DCU danger area and Greene reacted quickest to rattle the net with a clinical ground stroke.

It was a cruel conclusion to a game where DCU invested so much energy and effort and though they will compete in next month’s Fitzgibbon Cup, Ryan Cup hurling will return to St. Clare’s this time next year and in term of progressing hurling in the college, this was by no means the desired result.

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