The success propels DCU into their second final in three years and they face the team they overcame in the 2010 semi-final, NUI Maynooth, in today’s decider.
There was much to enthuse about in this DCU victory but the sight of attacking leading lights Murphy and Sligo’s David Kelly coming off the bench in the second-half was most pleasing for boss Niall Moyna.
Murphy was making his competitive bow for the season having recovered from a groin operation and his arrival to the game in the 45th minute was greeted with a huge cheer from the DCU setup, while Kelly has been inactive since the O’Byrne Cup semi-final win over Sligo in January.
“The surgeon gave him (Murphy) the go-ahead during the week,” revealed Moyna.
“We wouldn’t have done it otherwise. It’s great with David as well, he worked extremely hard to get himself back. We decided to pick the team that won the last day as we felt it was unfair to drop any of those players. We have a nice big panel now which you need on a Sigerson weekend.”
DCU had an array of stellar individual showings which enabled them to pull clear of UUJ in a feisty and hard-hitting encounter. There was a real physical edge and bite to the first-half exchanges but with UUJ held scoreless in the closing quarter and DCU reeling off nine points in that spell, there was a sizeable gap between the sides at the final whistle.
Dublin senior Paul Flynn produced an outstanding all-action display as he chipped in with five points while Dean Rock did his hopes of more game time with Pat Gilroy’s squad no harm as he struck 0-8 from centre-forward.
In defence DCU vice-captain Jonathan Cooper shone at centre-back while midfielder Fiontán Ó Curraoin showed the form he displayed for Galway during last year’s All-Ireland U21 winning campaign. Ó Curraoin limped off with an ankle injury in the second-half but Moyna is hopeful he can play some role today
“I hope he’s not too bad, but was he majestic today or what? They are a rare breed in the GAA, a guy like that. He twisted his ankle twice when he landed. We just have a few other typical knocks and bruises you pick up in the Sigerson.
Last week gave us a bit of a rehearsal for the Sigerson when we played on Wednesday and had to play the O’Byrne Cup on Friday. It gave us an idea of what it’s like to play two games in a very short space of time. Maynooth have improved enormously and we have to find another level. Whether we can find that I’m not too sure.”
UUJ stood up to DCU from the throw-in and were boosted when Down’s Anton McArdle finished beautifully to the net with his left foot in the 10th minute after rushing forward from midfield.
Three minutes later they nearly found the net again when an intricate team move released Diarmuid McNulty and only the fingertips of DCU netminder Michael Boyle ensured the ball went over rather than under the crossbar.
Wing-back Ciaran McGinley raided forward for a pair of important points for UUJ while Donegal’s Leo McLoone and Tyrone’s Matthew Donnelly were both influential figures. But the complexion of the game changed after the break. The teams initially stayed close on the scoreboard, with Peter Hughes leading the way for UUJ, yet they were growing signals that DCU were beginning to play with authority in key sectors.
They closed off all avenues available to the UUJ attack while Rock and Flynn picked off points with ease. Substitutes Kelly and Murphy both got their names on the scoresheet as well to ensure DCU enter the final with confidence.
Scorers for DCU: D Rock 0-8 (0-6f), P Flynn 0-5, D Kelly, M Murphy (0-1f), N Collins, C Begley 0-1 each.
Scorers for UUJ: A McArdle 1-0, P Hughes (0-1f), C McGinley 0-2 each, D McNulty 0-1.
DCU: M Boyle (Donegal); P McMahon (Dublin), K Gavin (Westmeath), E Culligan (Dublin); J McCarthy (Dublin), J Cooper (Dublin), N Collins (Roscommon); F Ó Curraoin (Galway), C Begley (Laois); P Flynn (Dublin), D Rock (Dublin), D Keenan (Roscommon); J Brady (Cavan), E O’Gara (Dublin), A McFadden (Donegal).
Subs: D Kelly (Sligo) for Keenan (half-time), M Murphy (Donegal) for Brady (45), F O’Shea (Cork) for Ó Curraoin (inj) (47), G Sweeney (Dublin) for Rock (56).
UUJ: S McCormack (Kildare); G McCartan (Down), A McClean (Antrim), R Pickering (Tyrone); E Wade (Donegal), L McLoone (Donegal), C McGinley (Tyrone); N McAdam (Monaghan), A McArdle (Down); P Devlin (Down), P Hughes (Tyrone), R McNabb (Tyrone); D McNulty (Tyrone), K Hughes (Monaghan), M Donnelly (Tyrone).
Subs: C McWilliams (Derry) for Pickering (blood) (18), Pickering for McWilliams (half-time), C Donnelly (Tyrone) for Donnelly (41), S McGuigan (Tyrone) for Wade (50), C Sheridan (Leitrim) for Devlin (53).
Referee: Michael Duffy (Sligo).