Five years, two different teams, a semi-final, a final, a quarter-final, a winners medal and man-of-the-match and now another semi-final, Tony Kelly's Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup record isn't half bad.
In 2013 Clare's Tony Kelly won an All-Ireland title and made history as the only player to win Young Player of the Year and Player of the Year at once. He was a member of Davy Fitzgerald's exceptionally talented and youthful side. A year later, he played under Fitzgerald again as LIT embarked on their Fitzgibbon Cup campaign.
He landed a monstrous 1-10 as the 6/1 underdogs shocked cross-city rivals UL in the quarter-final. A semi-final loss against WIT saw Kelly score another 1-5.
In 2015, Kelly swapped courses and found himself hurling with UL under Brian Lohan. Lording it in the middle of the field, Kelly was awarded man-of-the-match as UL saw off WIT 2-18 to 1-14 in the Fitzgibbon Cup final.
Kelly bossed the game that day and was totally at ease as he turned provider for his talented insider forward line. His peerless performance included this absolutely exceptional piece of skill.
2016 was a frustrating year for Kelly despite UL's great run. Ankle ligament damage ruled Kelly out for the entire early portion of the year and he failed to recover for UL's final against Mary Immaculate College. Extra-time delivered Mary I a much-coveted Fitzgibbon Cup.
Last year Kelly returned and despite 0-4 from play DJ Carey's IT Carlow denied UL a semi-final place. Today Kelly put that right as once again he lined out at midfield for a UL side that cruised to a 4-18 to 0-08 win against UCC in the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon quarter-final. Kelly scored 0-03 from play.
Fitzgibbon is the ultimate canvas for a hurler like Kelly. He pulls off tricks most wouldn't try in training. The joy of the tournament is in watching a hurler like Kelly combine with his rivals at inter-county, Tipperary's Jason Forde or John McGrath.
UL will take on IT Carlow in the semi-final next Tuesday, as Kelly bids to reach yet another Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup Final.
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