Scenes of jubilation greeted the final whistle when the LIT Tipperary Hurlers, managed by Tipperary Hurler Brendan Maher, became Ryan Cup Champions 2013 by defeating IT Tralee in the curtain-raiser to the prestigious 3rd Level Colleges Fitzgibbon Cup which took place in Pearse Stadium, Salthill, Co. Galway on Saturday last and was hosted by GMIT.
This event was the 10th anniversary of the Ryan Cup competition for this Tipperary College who had hosted and won this event, albeit under a different name, Tipperary Institute. To reach the final, LIT Tipp had overcome and survived the semi-final which took place the previous day in Athenry against a strong Queen’s University Belfast side who got off to a great start and raced into a 1-4 to 0-1 lead after just 12 minutes.
This seemed to inject life into the Tipperary side who went on to score the next seven points from the sticks of Denis Maher, Mark Gennery, Simon Smith, Philip Ivors and free-taker Shane McGrath, who was deadly accurate from placed balls and ended up with a personal tally of 0-9 at end of match. Queen’s managed just one other score before half time, to leave the sides level on a scoreline of 0-8 to 1-5.
As in the first half, Queens were first to score with a fine point but LIT Tipp forged ahead with the next two scores coming from Shane McGrath and Tommy Doyle. The strength and character of the Tipp side was well tested when Queens, through Hughes, managed to send the ball into the net thus once again taking the lead. However, this advantage was wiped out when Philip Ivers replied almost immediately by flicking a sweet ground stroke to the net to give LIT Tipp a 1-10 to 2-6 advantage. It was nip and tuck from then on with both sides exchanging scores. By the 49th minute, LIT Tipp were ahead by 1-15 to 2-8 when Queen’s scored their third goal to leave the bare minimum between the sides. From then on, LIT Tipp side scored the next four points and were five points ahead with a minute and injury time to go and even though the Queen’s side managed two points in the closing minutes LIT Tipp had done enough to secure a win on a fulltime score of 1-19 to 3-10. This was LIT Tipp’s toughest encounter in the Division 2 League, a trophy they also won before Christmas and the Ryan Cup series so far.
LIT Tipp’s opposition for Ryan Cup Final was IT Tralee who had beaten Trinity College Dublin in their semi-final the previous day. This was to be the third encounter between LIT Tipp and IT Tralee having met twice in the Division 2 League and while being defeated by the Tralee side in the 1st round they subsequently beat this Tralee side in the Division 2 League Final before Christmas so it was envisioned that they would provide stiff opposition in this engaging encounter. This did not prove to be the case as the Tipp lads began well with two early points from Denis Maher and by the 7th minute LIT Tipp had forged ahead by 0-6 to 0-1 through scores from Shane McGrath (0-2), Tom Ryan and Mark Gennery (0-1 each). However the Tipp side were rocked when an error in the goalmouth area ended up with the ball in the LIT Tipp net to leave two points between the two sides. By the 17th minute, LIT Tipp were ahead by 4 points through scores from Philip Ivors, Tommy Doyle and free-taker Shane McGrath but IT Tralee had the next three scores to leave the just one point between the sides in the 25th minute. Between the 25th minute and the end of half time, LIT Tipp forged ahead with 4 points while IT Tralee only managed one to leave the sides on a scoreline of 0-13 to 1-6 in favour the Tipp side.
IT Tralee opened the scoring with a point from play in the first minute of the second half but from then on the Tipperary lads showed tremendous skill and teamwork to outscore the Tralee side by 1-6 to just 0-1 through points from Shane McGrath, Adam McCarthy, Simon Smith, Tommy Doyle, Brendan Egan and a vital goal from Mark Gennery who was outstanding on the day to leave the scoreboard showing 1-18 to 1-8 in favour of the Tipp lads.
Between the 43rd and final whistle LIT Tipp continued this trend by adding on a further 7 points through Tommy Doyle (0-2) and Shane McGrath (0-5). IT Tralee did add 1-1 in this time span but overall they were outplayed and outclassed by a far superior team. Shane McGrath who had scored 0-9 in the semi-final and 0-11 in the final, was justly named Man of the Match and received the Man of the Match Award before the Ryan Cup trophy was presented to LIT Tipp Captain, Martin Fitzgerald from Kildare who played a captain’s role over the whole course of the competition.
Huge credit has to go to the management team namely Brendan Maher, Manager, Selectors Toby Kavanagh, Fr. Jimmy O’Donnell and Wayne Fanning and Physio Niamh O’Connor.
The club would like to thank Durlas Og, namely Bill Dwyer, for the use of their pitch and the County Board for their generosity throughout the year and all of the other Tipperary clubs who made their pitches available for training and matches, many times during appalling weather conditions. Thanks also to the generosity of the following sponsors – AIB, Doyles Corner, McKevitts Costcutters, Clohessy’s Garage, Joe O’Sullivan Bus Company, Stradavoher and Gasworks Student Villages, Tipperary Spring Water and Glasheens Bus Company.
Team and Scores: James Logue (Ballingarry, Tipp); James McDonnell (Na Piarsaigh, Cork); Ian Maher (Thurles Sarsfields); Fergal Brennan (Cloneen, Kilkenny); Niall O’Sullivan (Moycarkey Borris); Martin Fitzgerald (Ardclough, Kildare); Brendan Egan (Padraig Pearses, Galway (0-1); Shane McGrath (Feakle, Clare) 0-11 (7f, 0-2 65s); Adam McCarthy (Cobh, Cork) 0-1; Tom Ryan (Templederry Kenyons) 0-1; Denis Maher (Thurles Sarsfields) 0-2; Mark Gennery (Portroe), 1-2; Simon Smith (Rosenalis, Laois) 0-1; Philip Ivors (Ballingarry, Tipp) 0-2; Tommy Doyle (Thurles Sarsfields) 0-4.
Subs Used : Robert Bresnan (Mount Sion, Waterford) for Tom Ryan (44); Tom Dorney (Thurles Gaels) for Simon Smith (55); Jim Nelligan (Inniscara, Cork) for Tommy Doyle (inj 58).