DCU showed off the depth of their squad yesterday with their bench contributing 1-4 as they fought back from a perilous situation to reach the Sigerson Cup semi-finals.
The Dublin university trailed St Mary’s by 0-8 to 0-3 at half time in Belfast with two early points from Aidan Forker and Jerome Johnston’s brace of points putting the home side well in control.
However, Down forward Ryan Johnston’s straight red card for striking just before the break gave them a glimmer of hope heading into the second-half.
St Mary’s battled bravely with 14 men and stretched their lead out to six points when Forker converted a 40th minute free. From there, however DCU completely took over and they reeled off 1-3 without reply to draw level.
Half-time substitute Donal Wrynn’s fisted goal after 51 minutes was the crucial score, he rose highest above the goalkeeper and his marker Danny McBride to palm Conor Moynagh’s long ball into the net.
St Mary’s hung in and thought they had sealed victory late on when Thomas Canavan, a nephew of Tyrone legend Peter, was brought back on the field to kick a vital left-footed free with time almost up.
He nailed the kick, which was St Mary’s first score since Forker’s free 20 minutes earlier, but Roscommon’s Donie Smith immediately hit a superb equaliser for DCU to tie the scores at 1-7 to 0-10 to take the game to extra-time.
The sides only managed one point apiece in the first half of extra-time. DCU goalkeeper Tadhg Lowe converted a ‘45’ and Canavan pointed a free.
However, St Mary’s, who only managed two points from frees in the entire second-half and all of extra-time, could not respond again once DCU pressed ahead in the second period of extra-time.
Lowe’s second ‘45’ of the game put them in front in the 83rd minute with points from Colm Begley and sub Simon McCoy the decisive scores securing Niall Moyna’s side a place in the finals’ weekend at hosts UCC.
Scorers for St Mary’s: T Canavan 0-4 (3f), A Forker 0-3 (1f), J Johnston 0-2, P McBride 0-1, R Johnston 0-1 (a ‘45’)
Scorers for DCU: D Wyrnn 1-1, C McHugh 0-3 (2f), T Lowe 0-2 (two ‘45’s), C Moynagh, C Begley, D Smith, S McCoy 0-1 each, S Carey 0-1 (f)
ST MARY’S: R Burns (Down); A Beattie (Down), C Clarke (Tyrone), H Loughran (Tyrone); P McBride (Antrim), A Forker (Armagh), C McCooey (Armagh); D McBride (Tyrone), E Bradley (Derry); J Johnston (Down), C McGeary (Tyrone), R Johnston (Down); K McKernan (Down), M Fitzpatrick (Antrim), T Canavan (Tyrone).
Subs: J Morgan (Armagh) for Beattie (20); N McNicholl (Derry) for Canavan (44); C McCann (Antrim) for Loughran (49); B O’Hagan (Down) for Fitzpatrick (59); T Canavan (Tyrone) for McNicholl. N McNicholl (Extra-man for extra-time).
DCU: T Lowe (Roscommon); J Smith (Dublin), C Boyle (Monaghan), C Daly (Roscommon); D Ward (Monaghan), C Moynagh (Cavan), C Begley (Laois); T Flynn (Galway), S O’Brien (Tipperary); D O’Connor (Mayo), C Meredith (Laois), D Byrne (Dublin); E Smith (Roscommon), N Murphy (Sligo), C McHugh (Dublin)
Subs: R Connor (Longford) for Boyle (20), C McGreanor (Wicklow) for O’Connor (HT), D Wrynn (Leitrim) for Murphy (HT), D Smith (Roscommon) for Ward (43), S Carey (Monaghan) for Meredith (45), S McCoy (Armagh) for E Smith (55), F Kelly (Roscommon) for Flynn (64), E Keane (Laois) for Byrne (77).
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down).