All-Ireland Freshers 1 Hurling Championship Final
University of Galway 1-26 University of Limerick 0-12
Nine Clare players were on show for Thursday’s All-Ireland Freshers 1 Hurling decider but only Tubber’s Tommy Fahy was left celebrating after his University of Galway side romped to a surprisingly facile victory over UL on home soil.
Having been comprehensively beaten by UL in the Fitzgibbon Cup Final along with a minimum group defeat to the same opponents, the home side produced an emphatic 18 point turnaround to canter to a first Freshers 1 crown since 2005.
Electric duo Liam Collins (1-13) and Colm Molloy (0-5) combined for 1-18 of UG’s tally while captain Gavin Lee were superb both in defence along with arrowing over two long range points.
On the flip side, this was easily UL’s flattest performance of the year as the league champions never got into their stride any any stage and seemed rudderless for the majority.
It was actually difficult to work out what gameplan they were attempting to adhere to as their delivery to the forward division was not consistent, with only Sean Rynne’s excellent three point first half haul providing any solace.
That said, Clare’s eight strong contingent combined for nine points through four different players as Ronan O’Connor picked off a point in each half while Keith Smyth added to an early point from play with two frees before substitute Tony Leyden popped up with UL’s penultimate point.
Goalkeeper Tommy Fahy only had one save to make from the raiding Sean Rynne in the opening period as they bulk of the action was in the other half of the field once University of Galway upped the ante entering the second quarter.
Locked at four points apiece, University of Galway would raid for the next five points, bookended by excellent Colm Molloy scores. And while Sean Rynne led a stern response, they still found themselves trailing by 0-12 to 0-8 by the break.
With time to regroup, UL were expected to come out with all guns blazing for the new half but nothing could ben further from the truth as aside from an early Keith Smyth free, University of Galway seized total control all too easily as they embarked on a 1-9 unanswered blitz over the next 15 minutes.
With UL frustratingly losing their discipline, chief threats Molloy and Collins combined perfectly for the latter to clinch matters with the only goal of the game entering the final quarter at 1-20 to 0-9.
To their credit, Ronan O’Connor, Tony Leyden and Keith Smyth raided for consolation points but never troubled Tommy Fahy as University of Galway eased up to a superb victory.
University of Galway: Tommy Fahy (Tubber); Cian Shaughnessy (Turloughmore, Galway), Evan Morgan (Ballindereen, Galway), Fiachra McDonagh (Moycullen, Galway); Ben Haverty (Athenry, Galway), Gavin Lee (Clarinbridge, Galway) (Captain), Cian Daniels (Tommie Larkins, Galway); Liam Leen (Clarinbridge, Galway), Darragh Neary (Castlegar, Galway); Michael Molloy (Abbeyknockmoy, Galway), Matthew O’Connor (Ballindereen, Galway), Fergus Hanney (Salthill-Knocknacarra, Galway); Liam Collins (Cappataggle, Galway), Colm Molloy (Leitrim Kilnadeema, Galway), Charlie Mitchell (Kilcormac/Killoughey, Offaly)
Subs: Shea Fallon (Skehana-Mountbellew-Moylough, Galway) for O’Connor (40), Shaun Gilligan (Craughwell, Galway) for Hanney (42), Eamonn Enright (Moycullen, Galway) for Neary (56)
Scorers: Liam Collins (1-13, 9f, 1’65); Colm Molloy (0-5); Charlie Mitchell (0-3); Gavin Lee (0-2); Darragh Neary, Liam Leen, Cian Daniels (0-1 each)
University of Limerick: Conor Hanly Clarke (Kilmallock, Limerick); Joe Hoctor (Carrig/Riverstown, Offaly), Ian McNamara (Killanena) (Captain), Evan O’Leary (Ahane); Oisin Walsh (Fourmilewater, Waterford), John Conneally (Clooney-Quin), Michael Fitzpatrick (Drom & Inch, Tipperary); Ronan O’Connor (Feakle), Joey Fitzgerald (Monaleen, Limerick); Sean Killeen (Liscarroll, Cork), Sean Rynne (Inagh-Kilnamona), Sean O’Neill (Blackrock, Limerick); Adam Fitzgerald (Templeglantine, Limerick), Keith Smyth (Killanena), Daithi Keane (Beagh, Galway)
Subs: David Kennedy (Sixmilebridge) for Killeen (21), Jarlath Collins (Éire Óg) for A. Fitzgerald (HT), Tony Leyden (Tulla) for Keane (40), Gavin Rowsome (Ahane, Limerick) for J. Fitzgerald (44), Liam Dennehy (Glenroe, Limerick) for O’Neill (48)
Scorers: Sean Rynne, Keith Smyth (2f) (0-3 each); Ronan O’Connor (0-2); Adam Fitzgerald, Michael Fitzpatrick, Conor Hanly Clarke (f), Tony Leyden (0-1 each)
Referee: Niall Malone (Éire Óg)