UCD. opened their Fitzgibbon senior hurling championship Group A campaign with a comprehensive victory at the expense of St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra when they met amid flurries of snow on Thursday evening last.
Their victory marks the first competitive win for UCD. this season as they endured a disappointing Bord na Móna Walsh Cup campaign, where they finished bottom of their group which included Wexford and Laois. However, there were still plenty of positives to take from both games as Nicky English seized the opportunity to test fresh blood in both games. With the wind at their backs for the opening half, UCD.’s gradual progress throughout January seemed to develop into a brand of hurling laden with composed shooting and tenacious defensive endeavour. Ciarán Kilkenny caused problems under puck-outs as the St. Patrick’s midfielder tussled with Joe Lyng for spells of the first half. Nevertheless, defenders such as Eoin Conroy and Matthew O’Hanlon managed to bound out of danger and Cillian Buckley fortified his defence in a typical fashion.
St. Pat’s full-forward Peter Sutton was first to open the scoring-accounts but Laois pair Ross King and Pat Purcell both landed stylish scores to keep the home side in contention. 2nd year Agriculture Science student Jack O’Connor also chipped in with a pair of points, which were indebted to the quiet but imperative work of Joe Lyng. At the Clonskeagh-end of the park, Cormac Wafer and Eoin Price found space inside the 45-metre line, flinging a ball in towards Peter Sutton who rattled the net after Billy Leydon had first denied him. That 18th minute strike pulled the gap back to 0-9 to 1-2 but UCD. closed the half with great gusto as they landed seven points in a row, with Matthew O’Hanlon’s stirring score serving as the pick of the bunch, to put UCD. ahead by 0-16 to 1-2 at the break.
Caolán Conway, who was introduced in the Walsh Cup clash with Wexford, was brought on just before the interval and the Dubliner would soon become an imperative clog of the home side’s attack as he claimed 1-4 in all. His goal was long overdue for the men wearing St. Patrick’s Blue as a number of men including Pat Purcell, Conor McDonagh and Conway himself had all come close to finding the net. As snow levels escalated, St Pat’s couldn’t use the wind to their full advantage and so Conway’s 44th minute major, coupled with the scoring enterprise of Colm O’Croinin, who clipped four points, gave UCD. a 1-21 to 1-4 lead with ten minutes remaining – a gulf which seemed far too wide for the northsiders to grapple with. In spite of the wintry conditions, the Belfield boys still showed promise in their 2015 campaign for the Fitzgibbon Cup – a title they last captured in 2001.