Cronin and Halbert put UCC on road to victory

TWO goals in a minute by Pa Cronin and John Halbert gave UCC a flattering five point victory in an entertaining All-Ireland Freshers hurling league semi-final at the Farm yesterday.

Ten minutes from time CIT were shaping up as likely winners with a four point lead, but UCC pounced for two goals and eased to victory.

With a liberal sprinkling of Cork U21 players on both teams, the standard in this derby was extremely high. UCC emerged winner due to a slightly better balanced attack.

John Halbert was razor sharp on the edge of the square and could have had a hat trick of goals but for a superb save by CIT ‘keeper Eoin O’Sullivan. Michael Ryan was another UCC forward who made a telling contribution before being forced off with a leg injury, while Pa Cronin and Stephen Moylan were always impressive.

Brian Moylan, Thomas Mullane and Michael Cahill were excellent in the heart of the UCC defence but it was Damien Browne who stood above every one else. Playing as a third midfielder the youngster was majestic, winning an amount of ball particularly in the last quarter, which resulted in the two match winning goals.

CIT had their stars also. John O’Callaghan had a splendid hour on Eoghan Murphy holding the Cork senior player scoreless from play. However Murphy’s excellent free taking earned him five points which were crucial to the outcome. Ross Cashman enhanced his reputation at centre back while Ian Looney, Leigh Desmond and Brian Corry were others to do well for the technical students.

There was little to choose between the sides all through. Michael Ryan knocked over two points in a row for UCC before Colm O’Neill got through for a CIT goal after Adrian Mannix had made the opening.

Their lead was short lived as John Halbert rattled the net from Damien Browne’s delivery. Halbert was causing endless problems for the CIT defence before being well marshalled by Paul Horkan and the sides retired at the break level at 1-5 apiece.

CIT quickly had a second goal, albeit a fortuitous one when UCC ‘keeper Mathew Collins was adjudged to have stepped over his line as he gathered Leigh Desmond’s free.

The excellent free taking of Darren Crowley and a superb long range point by Leigh Desmond put CIT four points in front and in sight of the winning post.

However in the twinkling of an eye the game turned. A great pass by Pat Barry sent Pa Cronin racing clear and he billowed the CIT net from five metres, and a minute later Halbert drilled the rebound home after keeper O’Sullivan saved superbly from Eoin Murphy.

Scorers: UCC: J. Halbert 2-1; E. Murphy 0-5 (frees); P. Cronin 1-0; M. Ryan 0-2; S. Moylan, D. Browne, P. Finnegan, B. O’Sullivan 0-1 each. CIT: D. Crowley 0-5 (frees); L. Desmond 1-2; C. O’Neill 1-1; G. Fennelly, B. Corry 0-1 each.

UCC: M. Collins; T. Geaney, B. Moylan, B. Moloney; T. Mullane, M. Cahill, J. O’Callaghan; P. Finnegan, P. O’Driscoll; D. Browne, P. Cronin, S. Moylan; M. Ryan, E. Murphy, J. Halbert.

Subs: P. Barry for Ryan; B. O’Sullivan for O’Driscoll.

CIT: E. O’Sullivan; E. Clancy, J. O’Callaghan, P. Horkan; I. Looney, R. Cashman, L. Walsh; L. Desmond, G. Fennelly; R. Fenton, B. Corry, D. Crlowley; C. O’Neill, A. Mannix, R. Cunningham.

Sub: D. Lynch for Walsh.

Referee: D. Kirwan (Éire Óg).

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