Mary Immaculate College 1-18 NUIG 0-18
Limerick All-Ireland winning forward Aaron Gillane was the difference as Mary Immaculate College took their place in the Fitzgibbon Cup final against UCC.
Gillane scored 1-12 for the 2017 champions as they capitalised on a narrow 1-8 to 0-9 half-time lead against NUIG at Cusack Park in Ennis.
Evan Niland was outstanding again but despite 0-13 from the Clarinbridge clubman, NUIG failed to reach their first decider since 2010.
NUIG could have been level at half-time but went in trailing after Gillane fired a late penalty past Shane Hennessy.
Gillane scored first before Brian Concannon levelled proceedings for the first time. The teams would be level on ten occasions over the hour.
Niland scored his first free and that was cancelled out by Colin O’Brien as the game went from end-to-end.
Galway teammates Conor Whelan and Tom Monaghan were the next two to trade scores before Niland hit two in quick succession.
NUIG were in the ascendency for the first time in the match but they continued to give away scoreable frees, and Gillane punished them ruthlessly.
He scored his fourth point in the 23rd minute and Mary I took a 0-7 to 0-6 lead when he slotted his fifth.
Niland and Gillane went point for point before Sean Kennedy drew the sides level for a sixth time. The most crucial score came in the 32nd minute.
Clare forward Colin Guilfoyle fielded a high delivery and when Jack Fitzpatrick hauled him down referee Johnny Ryan awarded the penalty. Gillane fired low under Hennessy’s legs.
NUIG trailed by 1-8 to 0-9 at half-time but Niland scored three quickfire points at the beginning of the second half. The sides were level 0-12 to 1-9 after his ninth of the day.
Jeff Lynskey’s side should have pushed on after this but Gillane brought his tally to 1-8 in the 40th minute. It was another big moment as the momentum swung again.
Gillane and Niland began to fire points at opposite ends of the field while both teams couldn’t score two-in-a-row to move clear.
Eventually Luke Meade and Guilfoyle managed that in the 49th and 50th minutes. It meant Mary I were 1-14 to 0-15 in front.
Concannon scored his second but crucially two more scores followed from Gary Cooney and Colin O’Brien.
NUIG tried to mount a comeback in the closing stages but Whelan’s floated a long ball was fielded by David Prendergast as Mary I survived.
Mary Immaculate College: E Cahill (Birr, Offaly); D Prendergast (Lismore, Waterford), D Browne (Kanturk, Cork), E Ryan (Cappawhite Gaels, Tipperary); C Morgan (Kilruane McDonaghs, Tipperary), S Downey (Clonlara, Clare), T Grimes (Na Piarsaigh, Limerick); P Hickey (Nenagh Éire Óg, Tipperary), L Meade (Newcestown, Cork) (0-1); A Gillane (Patrickswell, Limerick) (1-12, 0-7f, 0-1 sl), T Monaghan (Craughwell, Galway) (0-1), C O'Brien (Liscarroll, Cork) (0-2); G Cooney (O'Callaghan Mills, Clare) (0-1), C Guilfoyle (Newmarket-on-Fergus, Clare) (0-1), M O'Loughlin (Clonlara, Clare). Subs: B Buckley (Shandrum, Cork) for Hickey (33), Hickey for Buckley (half-time), R McCormack (Borris-Ileigh, Tipperary) for O'Loughlin (41), Buckley for Hickey (53), S Burke (Grenagh, Cork) for O'Brien (53), Hickey for Buckley (57), Buckley for Cooney (59).
NUIG: S Hennessy (Éire Óg Nenagh, Tipperary); A Greaney (Craughwell, Galway), J Fitzpatrick (Killimordaly, Galway), D Connolly (Killimordaly, Galway); S Loftus (Turloughmore, Galway), C Caulfield (Kilconieron, Galway), P Hoban (Loughrea, Galway); I Fox (Sarsfields, Galway), B Concannon (Killimordaly, Galway) (0-2); M Lynch (Kilnadeema-Leitrim, Galway), L Forde (Ardrahan, Galway) (0-1), S Kennedy (Kilmaley, Clare) (0-1); C Sheedy (Roscrea, Tipperary), C Whelan (Kinvara, Galway) (0-1), E Niland (Clarinbridge, Galway) (0-13, 0-10f). Subs: D Burke (St Thomas', Galway) for Lynch (27), B Corry (Sixmilebridge, Clare) for Greaney (half-time), S McArdle (Clarinbridge, Galway) for Fox (36), S Fletcher (Roscrea, Tipperary) for Kennedy (52).
Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary).