UCD became the first side to book their place in the quarter-finals of this year’s Fitzgibbon Cup with victory over DCU last week at DCU Sportsgrounds. UCD didn’t have it all their own way and in horrible weather conditions, ambulance it took a strong finish to secure the home fixture on the 19th February.
The team, managed by Tipperary All-Ireland winning player and boss Nicky English, had six points to spare over their opponents and Fitzgibbon Captain, Tipperary’s Noel McGrath led by example as top scorer with 10 points, including three of the final five points.
UCD began brightly and lead 1-5 to 0-4 after the first quarter with Wexford’s Jack Guiney raising a green flag for the second successive game while Dublin’s Seánie McGrath did his best to keep DCU in touch with five first-half points. Before the interval McGrath, Guiney and Tipperary’s Paddy Murphy raised further white flags for UCD while DCU had points from McGrath, Waterford’s Donie Breathnach and Galway’s Padraig Brehony.
After the restart DCU fought back strongly and McGrath continued to punish with his dead-ball accuracy, cutting the gap to two points inside four minutes of the restart however despite hitting seven second-half wides, including six in the closing
10 minutes, Nicky English’s side managed to find the required scores late on. UCD tagged on five unanswered points, with Noel McGrath and Dublin’s James Gilligan and Galway’s Domhnall Fox on target to ensure a second win in this competition.
The victory followed up their eight-point success against Limerick IT last week and ensures they will now top the group. DCU travel to Moylish to face Limerick IT this week in a game that will determine who finishes runner-up.
DCU played strongly in the second-half and at one stage had the margin reduced to the minimum when Ballyhale Shamrocks player Mark Aylward fired to the net to leave them trailing 1-11 to 1-10.
The game was notable for the presence of two players who will be in action when the respective colleges meet in next week’s Sigerson Cup quarter-finals with UCD’s Rory O’Carroll and DCU’s William Lowry the dual stars involved.
Looking forward to the quarter final against UL on the 19th of February, UCD were impressive, especially defensively and conceding a small score in the wet, cold and windy conditions.
UCD were also without the services of Kilkenny trio Walter Walsh, John Tennyson and Cillian Buckley and all players would be serious additions if available later on.