By Oisín McGovern
Electric Ireland Higher Education Fresher 1 Hurling Championship Group B
NUI Galway 3-18 Mary Immaculate College 3-12
NUIG’s first-year hurlers booked themselves into the Freshers Championship Semi-Final with a win over Mary Immaculate College in Dangan.
Played out in chilly but calm conditions, the Galway side were deserving winners. Despite playing with 14 men for most of the game, stellar performances from forwards Conor Walsh and Aidan Prendergast were key to their victory.
Despite a valiant effort from Mary I, the Limerick side could not match NUIG’s scoring power in the second half.
The first half was a hell-for-leather affair, with three goals and a red card being shown in the first 15 minutes. With NUIG down to 14 men after Darragh Whelan was red-carded for a rough challenge, Mary I kept pace to trail 2-8 to 2-9 at half time.
However, Mary I’s student teachers couldn’t summon that extra energy after half time as NUIG pulled away despite being a man down. With Conor Walsh pointing seven times before the end, Mary I simply couldn’t match their scoring power.
The visitors were given a lifeline late in the game when corner-forward Aidan Griffin blasted home a penalty after Aaron Ryan was dragged down.
However the hosts sealed the deal when the impressive Aidan Prendergast set up Luke Lynskey to bury the insurance score to the net.
The game had gotten off to a frantic start, with NUIG bagging a goal a minute after the throw-in. The dynamic duo of Walsh and Prendergast combined for the latter to finish the first of the game’s six goals.
Mary I responded a minute later when Eoin Guilfoyle’s long shot was dropped by NUIG’s Liam O’Reilly, before Cormac Power buried the ball home.
Minutes later, Luke Lynskey buried an identical goal for the hosts after Mary I’s Michael Duggan spilled a high ball.
With NUIG losing corner-back Darragh Whelan to a straight red, both sides exchanged scores evenly.
Mary I raised another green flag mid-way through the half when the impressive Aidan Griffin swung a hurl at a loose ball. The remainder of the first half was very evenly matched, leaving a point between the sides at the break.
With Mary I failing to score for the first 15 minutes of the second half, a Conor-Walsh inspired NUIG pulled away to claim a very impressive victory.
NUIG team: Liam O’Reilly, Conor Tully, Eanna McMahon, Darragh Whelan, Niall Fitzgerald, Evan Cox, Enda Collins, Ethan Butler, Oisín Salmon, Diarmuid Kilcummins, Conor Walsh, Adrian Prendergast, Luke Lynskey, Sean Burke, Jack O’Meara
NUIG scorers: Conor Walsh (0-12, 9f), Adrian Prendergast (1-3), Diarmuid Kilcummins (0-1), Luke Lynskey (2-2)
Mary Immaculate team: Michael Duggan, Sean Ryan, Jason Nolan, Daire Nolan, Sean Ryan, Aidan McCarthy, Liam Deely, Aaron Ryan, Eoin Guilfoyle, Cathal O’Leary, Liam Halpin, Ciaran Breen, Cathal Douglas, Cormac Power, Aidan Griffin
Mary I scorers: Cormac Power (1-1), Aidan Griffin (2-5,5f), Sean Ryan (0-1), Aidan McCarthy (0-2) Liam Deely (0-1), Cathal O’Leary (0-1), Ciaran Breen (0-1),
Substitutions: Thomas Ryan, Seán Nolan, Kevin Keane
Referee: James Judge