by Eoghan Cormican
At St. Clare’s
Substitute Peter Corry came to the rescue of DCU’s freshers hurling outfit just when as outsiders GMIT had one eye on a second round date on February 9.
The Westerners appeared poised for victory until Corry, who had been earlier introduced as a substitute, profited amid a goalmouth scramble in the 79th minute to force a replay with the game’s only goal.
This opening round fixture mightn’t always have been open and flowing fare but there was no denying the honesty and a spirit from two sides which simply refused to die.
Over the course of the normal time span, DCU looked to have just done enough to see them through only to be caught in injury time when a 60th minute Shane Lawless point nudged GMIT in front. The visitors timing looked to have been perfect but an epilogue was to follow.
There was still time for a reprieve and in the 61st minute DCU launched one last attack – the sliotar breaking to Cormac Ryan and the full forward drove it between the posts.
That tied the sides at 0-10 apiece as the referee blew up for full time allowing both teams to re-charge.
GMIT finished the game much the stronger, but credit must be afforded to DCU for keeping the tie alive at the death.
GMIT kept up the pressure in the first period of extra time and by the break, led 0-14 to 0-11 thanks in the main to Galway senior Tadgh Haran and Paul Hoban with Shane Boland posting DCU’s sole response.
A further Hoban minor at the start of the second period of extra time seemed to sound the death knell for the home side, considering it arrived directly after DCU squandered two guilt edge scoring chances.
Crucially though, GMIT would fail to add their tally in the remaining minutes as DCU gained the upper hand, due in no small part to the absence of GMIT sharpshooter Tadgh Haran who was forced off with an injury.
A foul on Padraig Brehony subsequently allowed Donie Breathnach reduce arrears to three. Two minutes out Brehony’s dissecting run split open the GMIT defence, before the Galway man offloaded possession to Breathnach who was upended just outside the ’21.
Breathnach’s free was excellently saved, but in the ensuing scavenge Peter Corry pulled to the net to complete the miracle recovery.
While, overall, the skill levels of this first round clash were disappointing the contest itself lacked nothing by the way of excitement. Simply, every ball was fought for with great intensity and possession won was hard earned.
In many ways, this contributed to the low scoring nature of the first half which saw the sides deadlocked at 0-2 apiece.
Haran registered the game’s opening score in the 15th minute, doubling GMIT’s advantage soonafter. Twenty six minutes had elapsed before DCU raised a white flag and though they clocked seven first half wides, DCU were fortunate to be on level terms as GMIT haemorrhaged two goal openings.
Firstly, Shane Lawless, having breached the DCU rearguard, dropped the prized possession yards from goal, while ‘keeper Adam McGrane advanced smartly from his line to deny Conor Kennedy thereafter.
The home side couldn’t have asked for a better start at the change of ends hitting four points in a highly productive ten minute spell. All of those scores came from the stick of Breathnach who began the sequence with a pair of free’s and though Haran responded, DCU were edging out tussles all over the field.
Flowing moves were very scarce in this match but out of nothing, Breathnach conjured up a piece of magic when controlling McGrane’s puck out and pilfering a superb point.
Further Breathnach free’s put them 0-9 to 0-5 ahead with eight minutes remaining, but three Tadgh Haran points and a well taken effort from Shane Liddy drew GMIT level before the late exchange of scores between Lawless and Ryan.