Kiely shines as UL seal historic second Fitzgibbon in a row

UL University of Limerick Fitzgibbon Cup 2023
Limerick captain Bryan O’Meara and forward Mark Rogers lift the Fitzgibbon Cup at the SETU Arena. Photo by UL GAA Club/@ul_gaa on Twitter.

The University of Limerick retained the Fitzgibbon Cup after a strong win over the University of Galway 

By James Roulston Mooney 

The University of Limerick won their second Fitzgibbon Cup in a row for the first time with a 4-19 to 1-13 victory over the University of Galway at the SETU Arena in Waterford on Saturday afternoon. 

Michael Kiely was the star of the show, netting four goals as Brian Ryan’s UL side earned the same spoils as they did last year against the same opponents. 

A blistering first 15 minutes courtesy of an incredible attacking structure saw the side score 2-6 without reply after their opponents had opened the scoring.  

The direct, slick and pacey brand of hurling that the followers of the Limerick college side have become accustomed to was in full flow on the day. 

The clinical nature of the attacking display from the likes of Kiely and Adam English led to the sizable gap in the first quarter, with all bar three of the first-half scores coming from play. 

Kiely’s first two goals in the Fitzgibbon final underlined the confidence that this unit had been playing with throughout the tournament. 

Galway’s Evan Niland, Niall Collins and Phelim McGann were among the players who helped bring their side back into contention, but that position did not last long, and the team’s 13 wides in the game did not help.

While the intensity of the holders’ performance dipped for the following 10 minutes or so, its resurgence at the end of the first half killed off any chance of a comeback from the Galway team. 

What Kiely’s first two scores summed up for his team, the next two summed up for himself – dazzling displays of full-forward play filled with skill, composure and conviction.  

Gearoid O’Connor’s precise placed balls added more and more misery for the challengers as the second half went on while the game fell further and further away from their reach. 

The match never felt close for the University of Galway, despite getting on the scoreboard first and even a consolation goal from Greg Thomas only brought the damage control to 15 points. 

The University of Galway will have to wait another year to get their hands on the Corn Mhic Giobúin again – it is now 13 years since they last did. 

UL, on the other hand, can celebrate the historic retention of their Fitzgibbon crown. 

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