The home side were sitting on a two-point lead at that juncture and playing confidently, but a careless pass from defence was intercepted, and the ball came to Liam Moffett, whose shot was parried by Garda ‘keeper and in the ensuing melee, Lennon was credited with forcing the ball over the line.
It was a victory DCU just deserved. It was easy to understand their jubilation, particularly coach Niall Moyna.
“This the first time for the college to reach the semi-finals. This year it was our goal to make the last four as we were hosting the competition and it’s a tribute to everybody involved to get us there,” he said.
“Any team that beats UCD is a good team, and we knew we were up against it. Conditions were deplorable, but I cannot speak highly enough about our lads. They showed tremendous character when the pressure came. We defended superbly, and most importantly took the chances that came our way.”
DCU fielded a team that included a host of inter-county footballers, and they needed every one of them as the home side, inspired by corner back James Lambe, threatened to spoil the party when they forged two points clear early in the second half.
However DCU’s football, particularly their short passing game was excellent. Defensively they were magnificent, particularly their half backline, which included Dublin seniors Declan Lally and Brian Cullen.
Both players revelled in the glue-like underfoot conditions, and were ably assisted by Monaghan senior Eoin Lennon at midfield, county colleague Bernard Brogan who kicked two delightful points, and Mayo’s Conor Mortimer.
Garda made the better start with James Lambe and Pat Kelly strong in defence and Michael O’Shea’s point gave them an early lead. However with both sides struggling in the treacherous conditions scores were scarce, and it took the visitors eight minutes to draw level with a Conor Mortimer point.
That score settled the Dublin students and with Bernard Brogan excellent in attack, they led 0-3 to 0-1 after 25 minutes. Garda, without a score for 26 minutes finished the half strongly to go in leading 0-4 to 0-3.
The second half developed into a marvellous contest. Garda, playing the more direct football stretched their lead to two early in the second half and the Dubs were in grave danger.
As so often happens in tight games, one mistake proved extremely costly. James Lambe’s pass went astray and in the blink of an eye the ball nestled in the back of the Garda net.
Surprisingly Garda took off James Masters, although the Nemo man was not at his best. In one last throw of the dice, Garda brought on Galway’s John Devane with 10 minutes to go, and he made an impression as DCU struggled, not scoring the last 18 minutes.
Garda’s only reward were two late points but they will never know how the game would have finished had Devane been introduced earlier.
: DCU: E. Lennon 1-1; B. Brogan 0-2; C. Mortimer (free), S. Johnson, B. Egan 0-1 each. Garda: M. O’Shea, D. Marshall (frees) 0-2 each; B. Coen, C. Bane, P. Mullarkey, P. Kelly 0-1 each.
: S. Cluxton; B. O’Reilly, K. O’Reilly, P. Casey; D. Lally, B. Cullen, G. Mullins; E. Lennon, R. McConnell; B. Brogan, B. Egan, R. Flanagan; C. Mortimer, S. Smith, S. Johnson.
. K. Devine for Johnson; N. Cooper for Flanagan; L. Moffett for Smith.
: J. Hayes; J. Lambe, M. Lee, T. Brosnan; B. Moriarty, D. Hickey, P. Kelly; P. Mullarkey, A. O’Connor; J. Masters, V. Hurley, M. O’Shea; D. Marshall, CD. Bane, B. Coen.
. D. Fenton for Masters; E. Coughlan for Hurley; J. Devane for O’Connor; H. McInerney for Mullarkey.
: M. Ryan (Limerick).