Success in yesterday’s McGrath Cup semi-final at CIT’s grounds means the university have two outings next week with a Sigerson Cup opener against DIT on Wednesday and a McGrath Cup decider the following Sunday.
In addition the nature of this performance will provide the UCC management with plenty to mull over before they select their side to face the Dublin college. UCC rung the changes for this game as they drafted in six new players, with goalkeeper Ken O’Halloran and centre-back Adrian Greaney the only members of the defensive rearguard to be retained from last Sunday’s McGrath Cup opening win over Clare.
Yet the rotation policy did little to weaken them with several players putting their hands up for selection in a convincing manner. In defence Eoin Cotter seized his chance by expertly policing Cork senior Colm O’Neill while outside him Peter Crowley impressed. Midfielder John Buckley advanced his claims for a call up to Jack O’Connor’s Kerry ranks with another terrific display; wing-forwards David O’Callaghan and Sean Kiely worked superbly throughout and Paul Honohan was brilliant in showing for ball near goal. That all conspired to help them just stave off the challenge of CIT and with their future prospects healthy, selector John Corcoran was a satisfied man at the final whistle.
“We’ve been working hard to get two teams going and thankfully we’ve done that. We’ve a huge selection problem now for the game against DIT, but it would be a lot worse if we were scratching our heads for fellas to fill positions. We told the players to put themselves in the shop window for the Sigerson and that’s what they’ve done. We made a number of changes from the Clare game and they all responded very positively. We’re glad to be in the McGrath Cup final, but the Sigerson Cup is our main focus.”
For all the collective team input that generated this result, the victory could ultimately be distilled down to one vital second-half incident. At the turn of the third quarter, CIT looked in command as they led 1-8 to 0-8 but when a long ball was pumped goalward by UCC half-back Bart Daly, it was Buckley who rose highest and fist to the net.
UCC then powered on, hitting four fine points, with CIT’s response a brace from freetaker Daniel Goulding.
The first half could be divided into three neat segments, CIT’s first quarter dominance, UCC’s subsequent recovery and CIT’s strong close to the half. CIT led 0-3 to 0-1 after 15 minutes, a period where they sprayed the ball around well, most notably in the sixth minute when a fine team move nearly yielded a goal for Colm O’Neill, only for Ken O’Halloran’s hand to deny him. UCC responded excellently and reeled off five points in a row, the pick of which was a long-range booming shot by Michael Shields. That left them 0-6 to 0-3 up by the 26th minute but then CIT raided from deep and a swift counter-attack produced a goal when Paul Kerrigan drilled low to the net after Barry John Walsh’s initial effort had been saved. They built on that to lead 1-5 to 0-7 at the break and some sublime shooting by Goulding and Gary Sayers had them 1-8 to 0-8 in front early in the second half. However Buckley’s strike for UCC then decisively altered the course of the game.
Scorers for UCC: J Buckley 1-1, S Kiely, D Kearney, D Goold (0-2f), D O’Callaghan (0-1f) 0-2 each, M Shields, P Honohan, D Casey 0-1 each
Scorers for CIT: D Goulding 0-7 (0-2 ‘45, 0-2f) P Kerrigan 1-1 (0-1f), A Walsh, G Sayers 0-1 each.
UCC: K O’Halloran (Cork); L Jennings (Cork), R Buckley (Cork), E Cotter (Cork); P Crowley (Kerry), A Greaney (Kerry), B Daly (Cork); M Shields (Cork), J Buckley (Kerry); D O’Callaghan (Kerry), D Goold (Cork), S Kiely (Cork); D Kearney (Cork), S Hayes (Cork), P Honohan (Cork).
Subs: M Collins (Cork) for Hayes (inj) (12), D Casey (Kerry) for Goold (46), K O’Driscoll (Cork) for Kiely (55).
CIT: B Kelly (Kerry); N Galvin (Cork), S O’Donoghue (Cork), R Carey (Cork); A Walsh (Cork), P O’Flynn (Cork), C O’Driscoll (Cork); S O’Hare (Waterford), A O’Sullivan (Cork); J Fitzpatrick (Cork), P Kerrigan (Cork), S McCarthy (Cork); C O’Neill (Cork), BJ Walsh (Kerry), D Goulding (Cork).
Subs: G Sayers (Kerry) for Fitzpatrick (half-time), B McGuire (Kerry) for O’Donoghue (37), R Leahy (Cork) for McCarthy (51), R O’Dwyer (Cork) for O’Hare (51).
Referee: Michael Meade (Limerick)