DCU come out on top in a feisty encounter with University Limerick

Conor Breslin

DCU 0-21 University of Limerick 0-18

DCU hurlers kept their reputation as League champions intact after gaining a vital and impressive win over University of Limerick in a tight Fitzgibbon Cup Group A clash yesterday at St Clare’s.

DCU had to work hard for their three-point win, with at the same time, trying to stop the outstanding Tipperary native Cian Darcy who ended the contest with a remarkable tally of 0-15, including five superb scores from open play. Limerick attacker Kyle Hayes was also a livewire presence for the Munster men, who were Fitzgibbon champions at this grade just two years ago.

However, DCU full-forward and captain Donal Burke proved to be a thorn in the side of UL throughout and his final tally of 13 points went a long way towards swinging the result in the hosts’ favour. Ahead of next Sunday’s trip to Maynooth University, the Metropolitan outfit find themselves on the brink of reaching the knockout stages of the competition.

UL, on the other hand, will earn a shot at redemption when they welcome Trinity College Dublin to their home grounds on the same day.

The match was nip n tuck in the opening half as both teams traded points with ULs Cian Darcy hitting 4 points and Kyle Hayes knocking over two in the opening 15 minutes of the match. DCU on the other hand found it difficult to find their rhythm with sloppy handling errors.

With Darcy and Hayes in fine form, the six-time winners raced three points clear on 11 minutes. DCU soon discovered a more familiar rhythm in attack, though, and visibly grew in confidence the longer the action developed. Captain Donal Burke put his name on the scoreboard first with three points of his own followed up with Young Hurler of the Year nominee Rory O’Connor from Wexford adding to the score with a 45-metre shot from a tricky angle to put two between the sides.

The talking point of the half was when James Burke floated a long ball into Donal Burke. The DCU captain was then brought to the ground inside the box by goalkeeper Barry Hogan which resulted in a penalty, only for it to be disallowed by the umpires who claimed it was a square ball.

Dublin’s Burke ended the opening period with 0-6 to his name and it was his stoppage-time free that edged DCU in front at the break (0-9 to 0-8). The elusive Darcy — one of six Tipperary men in the UL team — swiftly restored parity on the restart and there was little to separate the sides throughout the third quarter.

Yet, unanswered points courtesy of Burke (two), Fergal Whitely and Kilkenny star John Donnelly subsequently provided DCU with significant breathing space. Darcy continued to lead the charge for UL, but they ultimately couldn’t rein in the challenge from the North Dublin University.

Half-back Brian Ryan added his second point of the game on 59 minutes before Man iof the Match Donal Burke chipped the púc over three UL defenders outstanding on the right-wing to wing it over for an outstanding final score which ultimately sealed a deserved triumph for DCU.

Scorers for DCU: D Burke (0-13, 11 frees); B Ryan, F Whitely (0-2 each); D Reck, C Firman, J Donnelly, R O’Connor (0-1 each).

Scorers for University of Limerick: C Darcy (0-15, 10 frees); K Hayes (0-2); R Hayes (0-1).

DCU Team: O Foley; L Gannon, P Smyth, J Curran; B Ryan, C Burke, D Gray; D Reck, C Firman; F Whitely, R O’Connor, J Donnelly; C Hearne, J Burke, D Burke.

Subs: C Prendiville for Hearne (48), J Ryan for Reck (56), J Roberts for Firman, D O’Brien for D Burke (both 62).

UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK Team: B Hogan; C O’Callaghan, M Carey, E Gunning; P Campion, B O’Mara, R Lynch; B McGrath, J Shelly; R Hayes, K Hayes, P O’Loughlin; R Considine, C Darcy, B Power.

Subs: K McDermott for McGrath (40), S Neville for Power (45), K McDonald for Lynch (52), J Kenny for Considine, O Flannery for R Hayes (both 55).

Referee: J Owens (Wexford).

Conor Breslin

Image Credit: DCU GAA