NUIG needed to win by three or more points to progress and despite a 0-6 to 0-13 halftime lead, a second half comeback from UL saw them move onto the next phase.
Both free takers were the stars of the show today as Bobby Duggan and John McGrath both hit 0-9 in extremely difficult conditions.
Aided by the strong wind, NUIG enjoyed the better start to the match. The side dominated possession, especially in midfield where UL felt the loss of Tony Kelly, while the movement of Galway duo Cathal Mannion and Conor Whelan in attack caused all sorts of trouble for the UL full-back line.
Niall O’Brien, Duggan and Cathal Mannion all landed easy scores for the Galway side while Tom Morrissey, David Fitzgerald and McGrath kept UL within touching distance of the lead.
The only shot on goal came after 15 minutes from Clare’s Bobby Duggan but was easily dealt with by UL goalkeeper, Paul Maher.
UL’s ill-discipline let them down and Duggan capitalised at the end of the first half as NUIG scored six unanswered points, four from frees.
With the help of the wind in the second half, UL slowly started to gain momentum. Jack Browne and Michael Casey found their form, keeping the Whelan / Mannion combo to just one point in the second half while crucially Kevin Hehir grew into the game in midfield.
Jason Forde, operating from the half back line, scored an excellent long range free before McGrath added two more from the spot.
Niall O’Brien ensured the gap remained in favour of NUIG but the UL appetite for every hard ball eventually paid off and they narrowed the gap to two thanks to Morrissey and another McGrath free.
While Duggan continued his accuracy from placed balls, NUIG lived to rue their wide count, 11 in all, while a skewed sideline attempt from McGrath was the only wide from the Limerick side in the second half.
A sublime point from UL’s full forward, Kevin O’Brien left just one between the sides but it proved to be the last action of the game.
It means that Mary Immaculate College top Group C while UL take second spot. UL will now play Cork IT away in the Fitzgibbon quarter finals.
UL scorers: John McGrath 0-9 (7f), Tom Morrissey 0-2, David Fitzgerald, Kevin Hehir, Jason Forde, Kevin O’Brien, 0-1 each.
UL team: Paul Maher (Tipperary), Michael Casey (Limerick), Jack Browne (Clare), Stephen Roche (Galway), Aidan McGuane (Clare), Barry Heffernan (Tipperary), Brian Stapleton (Tipperary), Kevin Hehir (Clare), David Fitzgerald (Clare), Jason Forde (Tipperary), Tom Morrissey (Limerick), Conor Martin (Kilkenny), John McGrath (Tipperary), Kevin O’Brien (Limerick), Tommy Heffernan (Tipperary). Subs: Pat Ryan (Limerick) for McGuane (38) Cathal McInerney (Clare) for Heffernan (41) Bill Maher (Tipperary) for Hehir (52).
NUIG scorers: Bobby Duggan 0-9 (8f), Niall O’Brien 0-2, Padraic Mannion 0-2, Cathal Mannion, Kevin McHugo, Oisin Donnellan 0-1 each.
NUIG team: Cathal Tuohy (Galway), Conor Ryan (Tipperary), Barry Fitzpatrick (Clare), Robbie Lane (Galway), Shane Cooney (Galway), John Hanbury (Galway), Padraic Mannion (Galway), Niall O’Brien (Westmeath), Oisin Donnellan (Clare), Bobby Duggan (Clare), Kevin McHugo (Galway), Mike Mullins (Galway), John Fox (Limerick), Conor Whelan (Galway), Cathal Mannion (Galway).
Subs: Ger Hennelly (Galway) for Fox (49 mins) Stephen Hynes (Galway) for Lane (54).
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork).