Maynooth had lost by 18 and 20 points to Limerick IT and UCC, respectively, in their previous outings but in the second-half last night, they were within three of UCD. The hosts just needed to avoid defeat, and a whiff of complacency hung in the air as they struggled to see off the pool minnows.
Playing with the breeze in the first half, UCD hit a number of bad wides but they still led at half-time 1-7 to 0-2.
Maynooth turned with the elements in their favour and five unanswereed points – four from top scorer Paul Winters – had them within striking distance. Padraic Guinan settled UCD nerves with their opening score of the half before Oisin O’Rorke, off target with a few in the first half, nailed a free.
Back came Maynooth with a point from Niall Kenny before UCD moved six clear, impressive pair James Maher and Guinan on target. But Maynooth wouldn’t lie down and when Winters nailed a pair of frees, they were within four points down the home straight.
UCD managed to get the job done, eventually, Maher and O’Rorke, with his fourth free, closing the game out.
UCD needed Ciaran Prendergast’s first-half goal to build some sort of first-half lead they could hold onto and while they did, English knows a much-improved performance is required if his charges are to trouble IT Carlow away from home next week.
For a while, it appeared UCD’s poor shooting could cost them and they were just 0-5 to 0-2 clear before Prendergast struck in the 25th minute to put some daylight between the sides.
Maher and Sean Moran, who briefly assumed free-taking responsibilities, stretched the gap to eight points by half-time but UCD were made to sweat by a dogged Maynooth outfit. This was by far Maynooth’s most competitive display and this might be the jolt UCD need as they march forward into the quarter-finals.
Having accounted for last year’s runners-up Waterford IT last night, IT Carlow will fancy their chances of knocking out UCD and a fascinating touchline battle between English and Kilkenny legend DJ Carey now lies in store.
J Maher & O O’Rorke (4f) 0-4 each, P Guinan 0-2, C Prendergast 1-0, E Conroy, S Moran (f) & J O’Connor 0-1 each.
P Winters 0-8 (6f), D Burke & N Kenny 0-1 each.
D Holohan; P Hannon, S Murphy, C O’Shea; J Madden, C O’Callaghan, C MacGabhann; S Moran, J Maher; P Guinan, J O’Connor, E Conroy; R King, O O’Rorke, C Prendergast.
T O’Leary for Prendergast (38), H Lawlor for Conroy (43), C Keane for King (52), C Devitt for Moran (58).
R Fitzgerald; C Breen, E McLoughlin, M Campion; D Hennessy, P Deegan, T Stafford; K Sheridan, R Donohoe; D Burke, P Winters, B Molloy; E Kenny, A Gleeson, N Kenny.
D Sweeney for Molloy (18).
A Kelly (Galway).