Cork greyhound runs on air to bring Fitzgibbon to 'The College' once more
UCC 0-18 IT Carlow 2-11
UCC don't do it the easy way but the hard way has never stopped them before.
Fitzgibbon Cup champions for a record 40th time, the Cork college had to summon their Lazarus instincts once more to come from six points down to beat a gallant IT Carlow team.
Darragh Fitzgibbon shot a glorious winner for the back-to-back champions who survived a Jerry Kelly special sideline right at the death. The Borris-Ileigh man's line ball faded off just wide and in Cork they went wild.
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) February 12, 2020
The bench erupted, the players dropped to their knees. This was a special win, because for large parts, it looked like the Cup was heading to Leinster.
Big Conor Boylan went up for the first ball for UCC and he'd have to think twice about going for the second.
Jason Cleere, the Bennettsbridge bull was in after him and he let Boylan know all about it. Hard but fair, a knee up the back and the ball on the deck. That sparked IT Carlow into life, and they dominated the early exchanges.
Richie Leahy was away in a hack and inside, the IT Carlow forwards were dancing. They say Cathal Dunbar is the fastest man in Wexford over five yards, and he confirmed the whispers in dusting no lesser than Cork speedster Darragh Fitzgibbon, before curling around to set up the first score of the game.
Fastest man over 20 too. Food for thought. 'The College' are the aristocrats of this competition and IT Carlow are the greenhorns but the new arrivals looked slicker, faster and at home.
Ice in the minds and fire in the stomachs. UCC were slower reaching the pitch of it.
A high, hopeful ball wasn't the theme of the night for the Leinster men, but Cathal Dunbar got a stick to it and Seamus Casey was around like a bullet. He could have made the Sigerson team too.
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) February 12, 2020
Leahy, that Rower Inistioge bomber was popping up everywhere and DJ Carey was hopping off the ground with excitement. Richie is one of the most breathtaking players in the country when he gets it right and he had DCU sportsgrounds breathless tonight.
"Get in someone, get in"
DJ sensed a chance on the sideline and there's nothing he hates more than full forwards away from the square. Liam Blanchfield obeyed orders and it wasn't long before he was knocking Cork men, left, right and centre for the second goal of the game. His hamstring was a victim along the way, but he really didn't want to come off.
Jason Cleere held the sweeping brush and he had total and utter control of this game.
Never in your life have you seen a man take a dangerous short puck-out as well. Cleere's touch is killer and his head is always up. He had more possessions than anyone else in that first half and they weren't just hand-outs either. He reads the game like a book and made interceptions for sport. Nine times was the ball in his possession in that first half, nine times it was safe.
Cody isn't into sweepers but DJ might have a word. This was an exhibition.
UCC are quiet movers though. Kingston would give Dunbar a race and his pace, and accuracy kept their pulse going. Kerryman Shane Conway would make any county team in the country. The evidence was right in front of us tonight.
For his first point, his hurl knew it was going over the bar before it even smelled the leather. The stands knew too and so did the UCC bench. The College bring some following.
Like a robber in the night Conway dispossessed Luke Scanlon on another occasion. The man is like a kangaroo on springs. IT Carlow went into the break leading by four. You never know with the Cork lads though.
Stephen Bergin is a workhorse and two powerful interceptions from the Laois man gave Carlow hope, as did Chris Nolan's laser-like accuracy but Cork just had that bit more class and that bit more energy.
Once again, Neil Montgomery arrived in the second half with the force of an artic. His influence would once again play a huge part in a UCC revival.
How the Waterford man doesn't make the starting 15 is a testament to the squad depth at Tom Kingston's disposal.
Shane Kingston was unplayable and he danced his way to two fine second half scores. Carlow looked dangerous but Cork were just that bit more clinical. Conway lamped a long-ranger from Lixnaw and then Darragh Fitzgibbon put on his dancing shoes.
He twisted an ankle moments later but the man was walking on air. You'd have to feel for IT Carlow, they're a brilliant team but this was University College Cork's night, once again.
Enda Rowland (0-2f), Fergal Hayes, Sean Downey, Shane Reck, Podge Delaney, Jason Cleere, Michael Harney, Richie Leahy, Luke Scanlon, Jerry Kelly (0-1), Cathal Dunbar, Chris Nolan (0-2), Stephen Bergin (0-1), Liam Blanchfield (1-0) Seamus Casey (1-4, 0-4)
Ruairi Higgins for Liam Blanchfield (25)
Shane Hurley; David Griffin, Robert Downey, Killian O'Dwyer; Mark Coleman, Paddy O'Loughlin (0-1f), Niall O'Leary, Paddy Cadell, David Lowney; Robbie O’Flynn, Conor Boylan, Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-2); Shane Conway (0-9, 0-8f), Shane Kingston (0-3), Mark Kehoe (0-1)
Neil Montgomery (0-1) for Robbie O'Flynn (33), Michael O'Halloran for Mark Kehoe (36), Bill Sheehan for Conor Boylan (56)