The UCD hurlers face a tough task to qualify for the knockout stages of the Fitzgibbon Cup after an opening round defeat against NUIG. Dave Billings Park played out a close encounter last Wednesday evening with the Galway side edging out a 1-21 to 1-18 victory.
The clash was well attended by fans from both sides in Belfield in the blustery wind. UCD’s hopes of victory were given an early blow when NUIG’s Fionn McDonagh scored a fantastic goal in the 12th minute.
UCD fought bravely in difficult first half conditions, with Galway native Donal O’Shea racking up seven of UCD’s eight points before the break. However, the presence of Cian Lynch in the centre of the park gave the students a constant headache and he helped NUIG to a 1-10 to 0-8 lead at the interval.
UCD needed to respond after the break and they did just that. However, NUIG’s Galway inter-county star, Evan Niland’s excellent free-kick taking helped the westerners maintain their lead.
Kilkenny hurler Eoin Guilfoyle managed to raise UCD hopes for a comeback with a late goal and point but Niland notched up more scores to see NUIG over the finish line with three points to spare.
The defeat raises the stakes for this weeks tie against UCC who saw off Mary Immaculate College Limerick 1-21 to 0-19 in Limerick last week. The crucial tie against the Munster side takes place tonight at 7 pm in Mardyke Arena in Cork.
Scorers for NUI Galway: E Niland (0-12, 8f), J Fleming (0-5), C Lynch (0-3), F McDonagh (1-0), B Concannon (0-1).
Scorers for UCD: D O’Shea (0-11, 8f, 1 ’65’), E Guilfoyle (1-1), L Murphy, K Lahiff (0-2 each), T Hannan, C Foley 0-1 each.
Conor Paterson – Co-Editor