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Mixed opening for UCC Hurling

Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile, article written by Dylan O’Connell and Adrian McGearty

Following a mixed opening for UCC senior hurling in the Fitzgibbon Cup, the college will have to sweat it out with an away quarterfinal following a win against CIT but a loss to UCD.

UCC opened the campaign with a convincing 1-19 to 0-12 point victory over CIT.  The game itself started at a frantic pace as both teams came out of the traps with great fire. It was level early doors as Michael Kearney stroked over a free for CIT just before the tenth minute. That allowed CIT take a one point lead in proceedings, as Tom Devine had given UCC the lead before this. Though, having put them in the lead before this, Kevin O’Neill wasn’t soon levelling matters for the visitors while Colm Keane increased the lead for the visitors during the first quarter. 
A foul on UCC’s Tom Devine by CIT’s Darragh Fanning saw John Power diverting his effort wide off the mark. Collins made up for his poor puck out by scoring the free to level the game. Moments later possession was lost as UCC’s Jack Barry went on the charge from the goal before passing to Michael Breen. The shot went narrowly wide. Collins pucked to Jerry O’Neill on the restart. As a battle between UCC’s Mark O’Brien and CIT’s Kevin Galvin allowed for the ball to be thrown back in between CIT’s Kevin O’Neill and UCC’s Rickard Cahalane. David Griffin made a charge upstream, laying off to Mark O’Brien before Conor Hammersley cleared for the home side before Robbie O’Flynn took a clash of hurls and went down. 

Daragh Fitzgibbon had added to UCC’s lead but a later puck to Shane Forde was missed. UCC continued to hassle their rivals, with Conor Gleeson and Robbie O’Flynn making inroads. CIT retrieved possession through Niall Fives, feeding Tomas O’Connor in the process. Jerry O’Neill levelling matters for the home side midway through the second quarter of the half. While Sean O’Donoghue cleared the danger in the end, a later foul on Shane Forde saw John Power placing the free wide. UCC reclaimed passion from the puck out.

The 2nd half started and CIT were awarded a free early on. Patrick Collins slotting over the free from outside the goalmouth. Soon after CIT began to get into their groove. UCC retrieved possession and grabbed a point through Mark Coleman. UCC began asserting control on the game, as Sean O’Donoghue distributed the ball to Conor Gleeson with the ball making its way to Mark Breen in a free taking capacity. The ball going wide this time. A foul on Michael Kearney saw Jerry O’Neill come onto the ball for CIT. Eddie Gunning hooked the ball out of danger for the away side. CIT did retrieve the ball after Collin’s puck out was taken by Mark O’Brien. The free which was awarded gave Collins a chance to redeem himself but it went wide. Eddie Gunning again getting on the ball before feeding John Power. The ball went to Rickard Cahalane who slotted over. That left it a four point lead to the away side. 

CIT knew they had to get back in the game and took initiative through David Noonan. Michael Breen took to block him this time. The ball later falling into UCC’s keepers hands through Gleeson’s tackle on O’Connor. Shane Kingston slotted over the next free given before UCC put paid to CIT’s hopes with a goal from O’Flynn in the last five minutes of the game. The final score read: UCC 1-19, CIT 0-12.

With momentum gathered, UCC faced an organised UCD at the Mardyke. From the start UCD held their Cork rivals, with  the Dubliners’ talisman DJ Foran kicking off proceedings, slotting over a third minute free. UCC responded swiftly, with Charleville star Darragh Fitzgibbon levelling the score with a point from the midfield mark. However, UCD pushed ahead with neat passing between James Maher, Stephen Quirke and, finally, Tom Phelan resulting in the latter firing the small ball into the left-hand corner of the net, past UCC goalkeeper, Jack Barry, to make it 0-01 to 1-01 in favour of the visitors.

Unfortunately for the Cork students, UCD held the lead for the rest of the game and whilst scores from John Cashman and John Power narrowed the gap to one point, the capital’s students pushed ahead once again to make the score 0-03 to 1-03 with a well taken free from the omnipresent Foran and one point from James Maher. Yet UCC never gave up, with free-taker Fitzgibbon narrowing the gap to two with a clinical free. A 15 minute tackle by UCD’s Seamus Flanagan earned him a yellow card, with the resulting free struck wide by Fitzgibbon. Another wide from UCC’s Eoghan Murphy was to follow, yet, Fitzgibbon’s free-taking kept UCC in touch with the visitors as the score was now 0-06 to 1-04.

But, once again, UCD extended the lead with a quick pass from Tadhg de Búrca to Stephen Quirke, allowing Quirke to fire the sliotar over the bar. A Fitzgibbon free dropped into the UCD square, with UCC’s Robbie O’Flynn slotting the ball over for a much-needed point for the home side. A further two frees from the prolific Foran extended the visitors’ lead by three points once again.

UCC sought to reduce the deficit with Seán Hayes’ goal-bound shot deflected over the bar by UCD goalkeeper, Darragh Hughes. Another two frees from Foran made the scoreline 0-08 to 1-09 at halftime, with the visitors clearly the more content of the two sides.

UCD were first out of the gate for the second half, with Foran slotting over another point, Yet a tight angled point from UCC’s Mark O’Brien narrowed the gap to four once more. In what was beginning to resemble a table tennis contest between both team’s free-takers, UCC’s Fitzgibbon slotted over a free only to be followed by three consecutive frees from Foran to give the visitors even more headway with the score at 0-10 to 1-13. A tackle on UCC’s Michael Breen lead to a well-taken free by Fitzgibbon, yet Foran continued to impress with two more clinical frees. The Cork students persevered, however, with another point and an attempt at goal spurned wide close to the final mark. While UCC will undoubtedly rue their missed chances, it was a deserved victory for the visitors who left the Mardyke with a score of 0-13 to 1-15.

A daunting task waits UCC of an away trip to University of Limerick, hinging on CIT losing to UCD next week in Dublin.