It was an even start to the game which consisted of twenty-eight Galway men, fourteen on each team. The crucial early score came in the ninth minute, where a goalmouth scramble somehow made its way to Kevin Cooney, who scored the first goal of the game to leave the sides level.
GMIT, playing with the aid of a strong breeze in the first half were struggling to make it count after that as NUIG was starting to pull clear. Scores from Oisin Flannery, John Fleming, Mark Kennedy, Cian Lynch along with a couple of frees from the imperious Evan Niland, allowed NUIG to pull clear.
Kevin Cooney and Sean McDonagh tagged on a couple of scores for GMIT, before an outrageous point from the side-line by Niland to increase the lead. It was NUIG who were in control at halftime with the score reading 1-15 to 1-6.
NUIG came out of the traps quickly after the restart and scored three of the first four points, which included a fantastic team score that started with a fine catch by Fleming, who handpassed it to Lynch and was ultimately finished off by McDonagh. GMIT responded with three points in a row courtesy of Cooney, Conor Gardiner, and a fantastic long-range score from Luke Prendergast.
When in danger, NUIG seemed to have the ability to respond immediately as they tagged on another couple of scores from Niland. However, the pendulum swung in the second period of the second half as GMIT rallied.
A further three points from Commins, Cooney, and Cianan Fahy were followed up by GMIT’s second goal of the game, as Donal Mannion pounced on a mistake from goalkeeper Liam O’Reilly, to set up Enda Egan who made no mistake, to cut the gap to four points. A Cooney free made it a one-score game going into injury time.
In the third minute of the four added-on minutes, GMIT snatched a last gasp goal courtesy of Jack Forde, which sent the game into extra time.
It was a low-scoring first have of extra time where a couple of frees by Niland, meant NUIG held a two-point advantage going into the second period of extra time. Cooney cut the gap to one but GMIT’s indiscipline was costing them as Niland converted another two frees.
Despite another two scores by Cooney, NUIG managed to hang on to clinch their place in the final.
NUIG: Liam O’Reilly; Eoin Lawless, Jack Fitzgerald (0-1), Conor Caulfield; Caimin Killeen, Darren Morrissey, Mark Gill; Oisin Flannery (0-1), Diarmuid Kilcommins; Conor Walsh, Cian Lynch (0-2), Fionn McDonagh (0-2); Mark Kennedy (0-2), John Fleming (1-2), Evan Niland (0-16,11f).
Subs: Paddy Dunleavy for Darren Morrissey; Ian McGlynn for Flannery; Cian Salmon for Fionn McDonagh; Daniel Loftus for Dunleavy; Adrian Prendergast for Walsh.
GMIT: Darrach Fahy; Luke Prendergast (0-1), Sean Neary, Kieran Meehan; Jack Forde (1-0), Cianan Fahy (0-1), Adam Clarke (0-1); Aaron O’Shaughnessy, Patrick Foley; Conor Gardiner (0-2), AJ Willis (0-1) (Tipperary), Donal Mannion; Kevin Cooney (1-10, 10f), Sean McDonagh (1-0), Paddy Commins (0-1).
Subs: Enda Egan (1-0) for Willis; Peter Martin for Mannion; Evan Duggan for Commins; Darren Duggan for O’Shaughnessy; Evan Hunt for Meehan; Commins for Egan.
Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway).
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