Heslin’s accuracy, coupled with the wasteful shooting of the home college, were the decisive factors as UCD advanced to set up a Sigerson Cup quarter-final away to UCC next week.
And manager John Divilly, a former All-Ireland winner with Galway, was first to acknowledge that they had been severely-tested by NUIG.
“We will need to improve for UCC, no doubt about that. But I knew we would be tested coming to Galway. They are a good side and we knew they would put it up to us on their home ground. We are just relieved to get out the right side of the result and we will look to improve for the trip to Cork,” said Divilly.
A college side with the likes of Dublin stars Jack McCaffrey, Michael Fitzsimons and Paul Mannion on board is a serious outfit to be reckoned with.
And yet the Galway college will feel that this could have been their day had they made the most of the chances they created. Eight wides to three told its own story, but the real damage to the home cause was done by a succession of shots dropping short of the target.
They should have been further than 1-3 to 0-3 ahead at the break having played with the breeze, with the only goal of the game coming at the end of the half when Antrim’s Owen Gallagher blasted home a fine goal after a good passing movement. Heslin led the way after the restart, landing two quality points from play and then tying the game with a free before Barry O’Sullivan from Kerry edged them in front with a point from distance. Peter Cooke, who could make the breakthrough for Galway this season, hit back with a couple of points for NUIG.
Heslin levelled 12 minutes from time and then Mannion, who was denied a goal in the opening minutes by a superb save by goalkeeper Donie O’Sullivan, kicked them into a lead they never lost.
Conor McCarthy doubled the lead after coming on, and while NUIG sub Ray Connellan cut it to a point, they were unable to convert chances into an equaliser and it was Heslin who made the game safe with his seventh point.
J Heslin 0-7 (3f), P Mannion 0-2, B O’Sullivan 0-1, C McCarthy 0-1.
P Cooke 0-4 (2f, 1 ‘45), O Gallagher 1-0, A Gallagher 0-1, R Connellan 0-1.
E Keogh (Laois); R Wylie (Monaghan), D Hyland (Kildare), D Byrne (Dublin), C Mulally (Dublin), M Fitzsimmons (Dublin), J McCaffrey (Dublin), B O’Sullivan (Kerry), D Murphy (Cork), N Kelly (Kildare), P Harnan (Meath), J Heslin (Westmeath); E Lowry (Laois), P Mannion (Dublin), P Kingston (Laois).
J McEntee (Meath) for Kelly (30), T Hayes (Cavan) for Kingston (30), C Basquel (Dublin) for Lowry (40), S O’Dea (Limerick) for Mullaly (40), C McCarthy (Monaghan) for Harnan (45), R McDaid (Dublin) for McCaffrey (60).
D O’Sullivan (Limerick): K McDonnell (Sligo), D Cunnane (Galway), L Burke (Galway); J McManus (Roscommon), D Murray (Roscommon), A Nolan (Galway); C O’Shea (Mayo), P Cooke (Galway); S Moran (Galway), M Daly (Galway), A Gallagher (Mayo); K Finn (Roscommon), O Gallagher (Antrim), C Davey (Sligo).
E Tierney (Galway) for Nolan (32), R Connellan (Westmeath) for Davey (49), P Mannion (Galway) for Moran (50).
E O’Grady (Leitrim).