Fitzgibbon Cup: Late Kirwan stroke of genius seals semi-berth for SETU Waterford

Fitzgibbon Cup: Late Kirwan stroke of genius seals semi-berth for SETU Waterford

A little piece of magic deep into stoppage time from Alan Kirwan helped conjure a landmark Fitzgibbon Cup win for SETU Waterford, propelling them through to the last four.

Mind you, Mount Sion man Kirwan may not get the credit he deserves for the crucial three-pointer which ultimately separated the sides as he was wearing number 24 at the time.

Initially wearing number 10, Kirwan swapped jerseys with substitute Mike Halley and, with the okay from a linesman, quickly returned to play and shortly after hit the crucial goal when he sumptuously flicked the ball over the goalkeeper and pulled to the empty net.

Halley was widely credited with the goal in early reports but it was Kirwan that deserved the credit for a piece of creativity that split the teams.

That strike left six points between the sides but the lead was cut in half by a 65th minute DCU goal from substitutes Conor Kehoe and free-taker Ross Banville, with the last puck of the game, had an opportunity to level it from a free.

He naturally went for goal but winced as his low shot flew wide of the right upright.

The full-time whistle sounded moments later and Fintan O’Connor’s side burst into celebration after securing a first semi-final spot since 2015 for the nine-time champions.

The win was all the more impressive in the absence of ex-county star Shane Bennett who featured in the group games but has since left to travel.

They still had just about enough attacking talent to advance past the 2018 finalists in a result that will make up for losing to DCU at this same stage in 2020.

Reuben Halloran’s eight-point haul, taking his tournament tally to an impressive 1-28, was significant and will have been noted by county manager Davy Fitzgerald, for whom he lined out last weekend in the Allianz League.

There was a strong showing at centre-back also from Billy Nolan while Sean Walsh, from the Carrigtwohill club in Cork, came thundering into the game in the third quarter and struck five points in total.

Padraig Fitzgerald’s sixth minute goal following a surging solo run gave SETU Waterford a great start but DCU soon settled and when Conor Hennessy controlled a clever pass from Kildare’s Rian Boran and volleyed to the net in the 21st minute, the hosts led 1-7 to 1-4.

Gavin Fives was fortunate with SETU Waterford’s second goal as his shot deflected in but he deserved the stroke of luck after a brilliant pick up and spin away to find space initially.

Two Banville scores, both from frees, brought DCU back to level terms at half-time, 1-9 to 2-6.

SETU Waterford took control of the game after the restart with six points in a row, three of those coming from Walsh who celebrated each score with a fist pump.

They looked primed to kick on for even greater gains but only scored one more point in the next 17 minutes as DCU again rallied, picking off a series of scores themselves through the impressive Banville, Martin O’Connell and Boran.

When stoppage time was included, the second-half extended out to 38 minutes and it was a thrilling

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