Spring was in the air as Queen’s University booked their passage into the quarter-final of the Collingwood Cup after a 2-1 victory over a NUI Galway side that fought every step of the way.
Despite having two sent off either side of half time Galway refused to give up, and almost forced the game to extra-time in the dying embers, with the Ulstermen just managing to clear a goalmouth scramble before referee Stephen O’Connell blew for full time.
The northern outfit started the better, and NUIG goalkeeper Kevin Horgan did brilliantly to acrobatically turn Mark Boylan’s deflected shot wide from a blocked free-kick; five minutes later Conor Melroy volleyed just over at the other end.
Galway had a fantastic opportunity to open proceedings just after the quarter hour mark, but after Jack McRea spilled a ball after colliding with his own defender Allie Sansui’s attempted lob bounced over the crossbar on a lively pitch at Moneygourney.
It was turning into a lively opening, with both teams looking to take advantage of the counter; Patrick Stuart was next to try his luck for QUB, his shot flashing just past the far post. NUIG took the lead after the half-hour mark, when Stephen Roden’s expert low-cross was turned home by Niall Whelan at close range.
The westerners were dealt a huge blow five minutes before the break however, as Roden was sent-off for pulling back Martin Ramsey in the box; Patrick Stuart dispatching the penalty low past Horgan.
10-men-NUIG had the second period’s opening opportunity, as a fantastic through ball from Niall Healy found Whelan, but he could only fire wide under pressure. Despite their inferiority in numbers Galway were looking the better team, and McRea had to be out quick to smother Sansui’s shot after a clever Conor Melody reverse.
However it was to be Queen’s that would take the lead, after David Elliot brilliantly curled in a contested free-kick off the post and past a helpless Horgan in the NUIG goal. Galway, to their immense credit, were still battling hard despite the tough justice served, and striker Whelan seized on a defensive error by the men in blue to curl a shot just wide of the far upright.
Stuart had a brilliant opportunity to seal the win twelve minutes from time, but Murphy was again equal to smother the chance before ever-present Whelan headed a corner over the bar. However it wasn’t to be NUIG’s day, as there was just about time for goalscorer Whelan to get his marching orders for dissent as Galway were left understandably frustrated on the final whistle.
Elsewhere, UCD eased into the competition with a comfortable 2-0 victory over the Royal Surgeon’s College at Mayfield Community School thanks to goals from Gary O’Neill, and Georgie Kelly’s dink before the break.
Meanwhile in Blarney hosts University College Cork learned their fate for the quarters, as goals by Dylan Kavanagh, Faud Sule, Jake Corrigan, and Colin May saw NUI Maynooth through at the expense of the University of Ulster 4-0.