Connolly’s clinical second-half strike gets UCC motoring

Sigerson Cup semi-final

Connolly’s clinical second-half strike gets UCC motoring

Not after their opening half performance, not with a man of such passion as Billy Morgan at the helm.

The reigning champions departed the field trailing first-time semi-finalists IT Carlow 0-6 to 0-5, frustration etched across the face of every single player. It wasn’t so much the scoreboard that was cause for concern, rather their lethargic endeavours.

Passes went astray, the wrong option was too often taken, wide after wide was clocked, while indiscipline stifled their defensive effort.

IT Carlow’s three free-takers – goalkeeper Shane Murphy, Barry McHugh and Liam Boland – each converted placed ball efforts off the back of needless UCC fouls. Moreover, twice had UCC players voiced their frustration at referee Derek O’Mahoney following the awarding of an IT Carlow free — twice did the man in the middle move forward the free.

Had it not been for the accuracy of Conor Cox, the Listowel Emmets corner-forward sniping four first-half points, the favourites could have been chasing a far greater deficit.

Morgan’s half-time message was to simplify their football. How it was delivered is open to debate.

“I was worried at half-time,” said the UCC manager.

“We had not played well. IT Carlow played very defensively and we just could not break them down. They were catching us on the break and four of their six points came from frees. There were two where we mouthed back and the referee brought them in. We just didn’t play well.

“We were taking the hard option all the time. I told them to thread the ball through and play it simple. I told them to take the easy ball. David Harrington took a nice point at the start of the second-half where the ball was just floated through to him. That is what we should have been doing all the time.”

Captain Tomás Clancy noted earlier this week that hosting the finals weekend would count for little unless the title was retained, a sentiment shared by Morgan.

“There is more pressure hosting the Sigerson. Having got here, we said the pressure was now on to get to the final. You could feel it before the game in the dressing room. It showed in our play in that first-half.”

David Harrington and the lively Cox kicked early second-half points, Luke Connolly settling the home outfit with his clinical goal strike on 34 minutes – goalkeeper Shane Murphy flapping at the initial delivery.

Brendan Murphy posted the visitors reply, what would prove their sole score in 18-minutes of football. Cox raised three white flags in quick succession, David Culhane storming up the field in the subsequent action to move UCC further out of sight.

On 50 minutes, their place in today’s decider was cemented. Fitting too that Thomas Hickey’s goal represented their most cohesive passage of play all afternoon.

Brian O’Driscoll initiated the move, the ball worked through the hands of Harrington, Cox and Connolly. The latter flicked possession across the square to the unmarked Hickey, the side-step employed; the net rattled.

“Once we got the first goal I knew we wouldn’t be caught. The fact that the lads do have experience of the quick turnaround to the final will stand to us. The likes of Paul Geaney and Tomás Clancy have been here a few times.”

Scorers for UCC: C Cox (0-8, 0-4 frees); L Connolly, T Hickey (1-0 each); D Harrington (0-2); D Culhane, S Keane (0-1 each).

Scorers for IT Carlow: B McHugh (0-1 ’45, 0-1 free), L Boland (0-2 each); S Murphy (0-1 free), B Murphy, K Ryan, A Forde (0-1 each).

UCC: M Martin (Nemo Rangers); F McNamara (Austin Stacks), J McGuire (Listowel Emmets), P O’Connor (Legion); C Dorman (Bishopstown), D Culhane (Ballylongford), T Clancy (Fermoy); S Kiely (Ballincollig), G O’Sullivan (Listry); S Keane (Legion), L Connolly (Nemo Rangers), B O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCathraigh); T Hickey (Castleisland Desmonds), D Harrington (Adrigole), C Cox (Listowel Emmets).

Subs: A O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers) for Dorman (51 mins), A Spillane (Templenoe) for O’Sullivan (58), K Davis (O’Donovan Rossa) for Keane (58), E Ó Conchúir (An Gaeltacht) for Connolly (58), C Horgan (Nemo Rangers) for Kiely (58), R Murphy (Beaufort) for Harrington (58, inj).

IT CARLOW: S Murphy (Kerry); T O’Connell (Kildare), C Lawlor (Kildare), D Smyth (Meath); E Lynch (Meath), T Featherston (Roscommon), E Walsh (Galway); W Young (Laois), M Sherry (Kildare); K Ryan (Meath), A Dever (Mayo), A Forde (Meath); L Boland (Tipperary), B Murphy (Carlow), B McHugh (Galway).

Subs: M Mangan (Kerry) for Dever (HT), C Conroy (Cavan) for McHugh (44), T Shiel (Laois) for Boland (49), K Mulvany (Cavan) for B Murphy (53, bc).

Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).

More in this section

CourtsGaaFootballPerson: ConnollyPerson: Billy MorganPerson: Shane MurphyPerson: Barry McHughPerson: Liam BolandPerson: Derek O’MahoneyPerson: Conor CoxPerson: MorganPerson: David HarringtonPerson: Tomás ClancyPerson: CoxPerson: Luke ConnollyPerson: Brendan MurphyPerson: David CulhanePerson: Thomas HickeyPerson: Brian O’DriscollPerson: HarringtonPerson: HickeyPerson: Paul GeaneyPerson: C CoxPerson: L ConnollyPerson: T HickeyPerson: D CulhanePerson: S KeanePerson: B McHughPerson: L BolandPerson: S MurphyPerson: B MurphyPerson: K RyanPerson: A FordePerson: M MartinPerson: F McNamaraPerson: StacksPerson: J McGuirePerson: Listowel EmmetsPerson: P O’ConnorPerson: C DormanPerson: T ClancyPerson: FermoyPerson: S KielyPerson: G O’SullivanPerson: B O’DriscollPerson: Tadhg MacCathraighPerson: D HarringtonPerson: AdrigolePerson: DormanPerson: A SpillanePerson: TemplenoePerson: O’SullivanPerson: K DavisPerson: O’Donovan RossaPerson: KeanePerson: É Ó ConchúirPerson: C HorganPerson: KielyPerson: R MurphyPerson: T O’ConnellPerson: C LawlorPerson: D SmythPerson: E LynchPerson: T FeatherstonPerson: E WalshPerson: W YoungPerson: M SherryPerson: K RyaEvent: Sigerson CupOrganisation: UCCOrganisation: IT CarlowOrganisation: CarlowOrganisation: SigersonOrganisation: Nemo RangersOrganisation: LegionOrganisation: BishopstownOrganisation: BallylongfordOrganisation: CastleislandOrganisation: An GaeltachtOrganisation: BeaufortOrganisation: KildareOrganisation: MeathOrganisation: RoscommonOrganisation: GalwayOrganisation: Laois
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