“No complaints, the better team won,” said the former Tipperary boss and All-Ireland winning captain, who himself had won five Fitzgibbon Cup medals during his time with UCC. “I thought we were doing very well even to be level at half-time. I was hoping then we still had a chance but we were under pressure again from the word ‘go’ and seemed to be second to every ball. We had a few injuries, Jack Guiney (young Wexford star) was a big loss, but we have no excuses, we were beaten by a better team.”
The sides were level at the break, 0-9 apiece, but it was a scoreline that flattered the Kilkenny-powered Dublin students (Cillian Buckley and Walter Walsh from the All-Ireland winning team both featured). With points from Cathal Kenny and Patrick Murphy they had taken an early two point lead, but with Cork star Conor Lehane causing all sorts of problems from his slot on the right wing, Brian Lawton on the other wing also on song, UCC soon overcame that deficit and by the 22nd minute had taken a five-point lead, 0-8 to 0-3.
From there to the break, however, the champions seemed to lose concentration, conceded several soft frees, all converted by Tipperary’s Noel McGrath, operating at full-forward. In fact it took a late point from Lawton to level it up for the Cork side as they headed for the dressing-room.
The second half was even for 10 minutes, two additional points apiece (including a huge shot from inside his own half by wing-back James Barry) leaving it at 0-11 each, before UCC took off on the run that would eventually see them home.
Pacy corner-forward Brian O’Sullivan started it off, capitalising on good work out of defence by Killian Murphy and William Egan with a fine point. By the 52nd minute UCC had extended that lead to five (0-17 to 0-12) and though McGrath was on target with yet another pointed free for UCD, the final minutes were again dominated by the champions, Brian O’Sullivan’s last-minute goal the icing on the cake.
A pleasing performance, agreed team manager Eddie Enright, the best the side has played so far this season. “No question. We always aimed to peak for this weekend and hopefully we haven’t peaked yet. It was a good performance, delighted with the work-rate, delighted with the space we created, hopefully it will continue tomorrow.”
The attack produced but the win was forged from good defence, from the outstanding half-back line of James Barry, Dara Fives and William Egan especially. “It was a great platform, the backs have been outstanding all year with low scores conceded in every game. That’s credit to the half-back line and full-back line, they’re playing well as a unit. The team worked hard, the forwards clicked and started putting a few balls over the bar. It was a great result in the end.”
Scorers for UCC: C Lehane 0-9 (5f); B O’Sullivan 1-2; J Barry 0-3 (2f); Barry Lawton 0-2; Brian Lawton 0-2; S Harnedy, B Hartnett 0-1 each.
Scorers for UCD: N McGrath 0-8 (8f); C Allis 0-2; C Buckley, P Murphy, D Fox, C Kenny, 0-1 each.
UCD: B Murphy (Shelmaliers, Wexford); J Dougan (Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin), W Phelan (Dunnamaggin, Kilkenny), J Gannon (St Patrick’s, Kilkenny); S Norton (Emeralds, Kilkenny), R O’Carroll (Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin), B O’Carroll (Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin); O Gough (Cuala, Dublin), C Kenny (Barrow Rangers, Kilkenny); D Fox (Carnmore, Galway), P Murphy (Éire Og-Nenagh, Tipperary), C Buckley (Dicksboro, Kilkenny); C Allis (Croom, Limerick), N McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney, Tipperary), G Sinnott (Oulart-the-Ballagh, Wexford).
Subs: J Tennyson (Carrickshock, Kilkenny) for O’Carroll, 21; W Walsh (Tullogher-Rosbergin, Kilkenny) for Norton, 36; M Brennan (Ballyragget, Kilkenny) for Buckley, 51.
UCC: D McCarthy (Ballymartle, Cork); S Maher (Thurles Sars), D Glynn (Dicksboro, Kilkenny), K Murphy (Erin’s Own, Cork); J Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane, Tipperary), D Fives (Tourin, Waterford), W Egan (Kilbrin, Cork); B Murray (Bishopstown, Cork), P Haughney (Midleton, Cork); C Lehane (Midleton, Cork), D McCormack (Borrisoleigh, Tipperary), Brian Lawton (Castlemartyr, Cork); B O’Sullivan (Ballygunner, Waterford), S Harnedy (St Ita’s, Cork), B Hartnett (Midleton, Cork).
Subs: 46), B Lawton (Castlemartyr, Cork) for Haughney, 38; A Breen (Na Piarsaigh, Limerick) for McCormack, 53).
Referee: A Kelly (Galway).