DCU hurlers are once again back in a Fitzgibbon cup semi-final after their impressive 6-point triumph over Waterford IT at the DCU Sportsgrounds.
Their semi-final match will be a repeat of last year’s semi-final, and this season’s All-Ireland league final as they will face reigning Fitzgibbon champions UCC in two weeks’ time.
The attacking power from Kilkenny natives John Donnelly, Jim Ryan and James Bergin proved the difference with these three DCU giants amassing a combined tally of 1-12 over WIT, which proved the Metropolitans worthy victors in what was an easy performance for the North Dublin university.
The opening half was free flowing with both teams exchanging points at either end of the pitch. James Burke and man of the match Donnelly opened the scoring for the home side in the first two minutes of the match, but WIT came back with two scores of their own from Tom Barron and Cork’s Stephen Condon, who led the way with 11 points for the Déise outfit.
DCU nearly snatched an early goal when a quick free from Rory O’Connor placed Ryan in a perfect position but he was unfortunately denied by WIT goalie Billy Nolan.
Glanworth marksman Condon was doing his utmost to keep WIT in touch, scoring three points in the opening 12 minutes while DCU remained in the ascendancy.
However, the Dublin college were pegged back on the 19th minute after corner forward Eddie Meaney was fouled inside the square. Goalkeeper Nolan blasted the resulting penalty into the opposition net. However, six points in quick succession subsequently propelled DCU into a 0-14 to 1-5 interval lead with Rory O’Connor, Ryan, Burke, Brian Ryan, Rian McBride and Bergin all landing on the score sheet in the final 10 minutes of the half.
WIT offered an initial resistance on the resumption with Condon’s dead-ball accuracy cutting the gap to two on 40 minutes. Nevertheless, Donnelly, Ryan and James Burke all popped up with points to reassert DCU’s authority.
A major talking point from the crowd came on the 45th minute when Burke struck the ball across the field to find Jim Ryan who simply tapped the púc into the net. After a long discussion between the umpires and referee the goal was later disallowed due to a square ball ruling. This however made little difference as a WIT comeback seemed unlikely at this point.
DCU had a second goal chance in the final 10 minutes when Burke sent Donnelly through with a beautiful cross-field ball, but the Thomastown man struck it just a little to hard with him having to settle for a point.
The Metropolitans eventually found the net five minutes from the end. A fine link up play between O’Connor and Bergin resulted in a perfect ball placed inside to Ryan who under pressure from the WIT defence booted the ball into the opposition’s net.
Substitute Austin Gleeson capped his belated cameo with a superb top right goal off a close-range free, but it was a mere consolation for the Munster men as DCU ended on the winning side and now turn their attention to UCC, who eliminated them from the Fitzgibbon cup last season.
DCU: O Foley; L Gannon, P Smyth, C Firman; B Ryan (0-01), C Burke, E Shefflin; D Reck (0-01), D Gray; J Donnelly (0-06), R McBride (0-02), J Burke (0-03); J Bergin (0-03), J Ryan (1-03), R O’Connor (0-04).
Subs: F Whitely for Gray (42), D Burke for McBride, E Delaney for J Ryan (both 55), K Burke for Gannon (59).
WIT: B Nolan (1-01); T Hayes, K Hassett, S Smyth; C Lyons, M De Paor, T Walsh; R Smithers, J Prendergast; R Flynn, C Flood, T Barron (0-02); E Meaney, C Kirwan, S Condon (0-11).
Subs: M Daykin for Smyth (h-t), M Mahoney for Flood (49), A Gleeson (1-00) for Meaney (57).
Image Credit: Sportsfile