Billy Morgan’s charges did the necessary to advance to next Wednesday’s quarter-final where they will face either UCD or NUIG at the Mardyke, but the gloss surrounding this first- round victory was somewhat dampened by GMIT’s closing burst, which yielded an unanswered 1-4 in the final six minutes of action.
Granted, the result had long since been wrapped up, but management won’t have been enamoured by the manner in which the home outfit took their foot off the gas or, more importantly, the ease at which the UCC defence was carved open in the closing minutes.
From the starting team which lost out to DCU in last year’s decider, eight players were present inside the whitewash yesterday afternoon for UCC. Listowel’s Jack McGuire is the sole member of the 2015 defence still around and it is at the back where more questions than answers were provided.
The UCC rearguard was less than assured under the high ball and it was from two long deliveries that GMIT netted both majors; Andy Glennon fisted Padraic Prendergast’s delivery to the net on 25 minutes, while sub Martin Shaughnessy scrambled the ball across the line on 59 minutes, after the initial shot was kept out.
For the winners, most of the positives thrown up by this five-point win were to be gleaned from their impressive forward unit. Conor Cox is again running the show, while fellow Kerryman Jordan Kiely produced an excellent first-half performance, contributing 1-2. David Harrington, the third member of the inside line, supplied 1-3 and once the quality of ball is in anyway decent, these three students will deliver. Outside them, Luke Connolly put in a solid shift, though more will be required from the likes of Ian Maguire, Kevin Davis, and Sean Kiely next time out.
Cox (two frees) and Jordan Kiely (0-2) slotted UCC’s opening four scores inside the opening 16 minutes, with Damian Brennan kicking GMIT’s first after 14 minutes. The visitors went ultra-defensive from the off with 11 GMIT players retreating deep inside their own half on each occasion UCC pressed forward and were able to plug two gaps in the space of a minute to speed into the distance. Cox and Connolly set-up Jordan Kiely for their opening goal on 19 minutes and less than 50 seconds later, the umpire was once more waving his green flag — David Harrington collecting and finishing James Walsh’s delivery. Harrington split the posts in the subsequent action and all of a sudden, Morgan’s side were 2-5 to 0-1 clear.
1-1 from GMIT half-forward Andy Glennon approaching the break narrowed the deficit come half-time (2-5 to 1-2), but six unanswered points from Harrington (0-2), Davis, and three more from the right boot of Cox stretched their lead out to 2-12 to 1-3 by the 46th minute.
Damian Brennan, with GMIT’s first score in 17 minutes, and UCC sub Conor Horgan swapped efforts before the visiting party produced a strong finish to more than half the deficit come Barry Kelly’s final whistle.
D Harrington (1-3); C Cox (0-6, 0-4 frees); J Kiely (1-2); C Horgan, K Davis (0-1 each).
A Glennon (1-3, 0-2 frees); Martin Farragher (0-3); M Shaughnessy (1-0); D Brennan (0-2, 0-1 free).
MA Martin (Nemo Rangers); C Hyde (Naomh Abán), J McGuire (Listowel Emmets), K Fulignati (Nemo Rangers); S White (Clonakilty), B O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh), J Walsh (Knocknagoshel); G O’Sullivan (Listry), I Maguire (St Finbarr’s); K Davis (O’Donovan Rossa), L Connolly (Nemo Rangers), S Kiely (Ballincollig); J Kiely (Dr Crokes), C Cox (Listowel Emmets), D Harrington (Adrigole).
K Crowley (Millstreet) for White (44 mins), C Horgan (Nemo Rangers) for K Davis (47), C Murphy (Rathmore) for Walsh (50), I Galvin (Seem/Derrynane) for J Kiely (52), J Davis (Douglas) for Hyde (53), S Oakes (Bishopstown) for O’Driscoll (58).
C Nolan (Galway); J Kinahan (Offaly), A Farrell (Longford), C Reilly (Galway); K Nally (Galway), P Holloway (Westmeath), J Downes (Galway); D Brennan (Galway), R Steed (Galway); A Glennon (Roscommon), Mike Farragher (Galway), P Prendergast (Mayo); A Molloy (Corofin), Martin Farragher (Galway), J Donnellan (Galway).
H Boyle (Donegal) for Kinahan (23 mins), M Shaughnessy (Galway) for Prendergast, M Mangan (Mayo) for Boyle (40), C Donnellan (Galway) for J Donnellan (54).
: B Kelly (Clare).