Today’s final appearance marks the university’s fourth in seven years, their fifth since securing a first Sigerson crown back in 2006. Not once have they walked off the field after a Sigerson Cup decider without silverware in tow.
The task yesterday for Moyna’s latest crop of students centred on applying a tight leash to the wealth of inter-county talent operating in the hosts’ forward unit. Ryan McAnespie lined out at centre-forward, while Paddy McBrearty, Kieran Hughes, and Cailean O’Boyle took up residence inside.
Come 4.30pm, only Monaghan forward Hughes had succeeded in ruffling the feathers of the reigning champions. Donegal’s McBrearty, double-marked throughout, managed only one point from open play. McAnespie was held scoreless, while O’Boyle was substituted. Indeed, outside of McBrearty and Hughes, no other starting forward contributed on the scoreboard.
Their conquerors weren’t any more industrious at the other end, simply more economical. The hosts kicked seven first-half wides and while their tally in this department hadn’t hit double figures by the finish, countless shots either side of the interval dropped into the arms of DCU keeper Philip O’Donnell.
DCU’s goal was a present on 26 minutes. Tyrone’s Richie Donnelly coughed up possession in his half-back line, the home defence left flat-footed as Enda Smith tore through the centre. The Roscommon forward offloaded to Shane Carey, the corner-forward hitting a low finish to the corner of Sean Fox’s goal.
The green flag cemented DCU’s bright opening, moving the visitors 1-4 to 0-2 clear. Ultan Harney, David Mannix, and Carey (free) nailed three in quick succession, with a superb Mickey Quinn effort cancelling out Richie Donnelly’s opener for UUJ.
Three McBrearty points pulled the deficit back to a goal (1-5 to 0-5) by the break.
An outlandish point from the outside of half-forward David Byrne’s right boot after 46 minutes put five between them for the first time since Carey’s goal. Following directly after was another jaw-dropper from Stephen Attride way out on the sideline; the scoreboard now reading 1-11 to 0-8.
Starring down the barrel of a second successive Sigerson elimination at the hands of DCU on home turf, the Jordanstown players roused themselves for one final push. Kieran Hughes, McBrearty, sub Shane Heavron, and a beautiful score from an otherwise subdued Ryan McHugh reduced the game to two. But a couple of free-kick points from Shane Carey, to one from Hughes, helped DCU see out the match.
S Carey (1-8, 0-7 frees), E Smith (0-2), S Attride, D Mannix, D Byrne, U Harney (0-1 each).
P McBrearty (0-5, 0-4 frees), K Hughes (0-4), R Donnelly 0-2, S Heavron, R McHugh (0-1 each).
P O’Donnell (Donegal); K Daly (Westmeath), K Feely (Kildare), J Smith (Dublin); S Attride (Laois), C Moynagh (Cavan), C Begley (Laois); S O’Brien (Tipperary), E Smith (Roscommon); D O’Connor (Mayo), M Quinn (Longford), D Byrne (Dublin); D Mannix (Kerry), U Harney (Roscommon), S Carey (Monaghan).
C McGraynor (Wicklow) for Mannix (36 mins), S Carthy (Dublin) for Smith (42), D Ward (Monaghan) for Byrne (50), S McCoy (Armagh) for O’Connor (53, bc), C McGonagle (Donegal) for O’Brien (58), R Connor (Longford) for Harney (60).
S Fox (Tyrone); R Johnston (Antrim), R McNamee (Tyrone), K Clarke (Cavan); R McHugh (Donegal), R Brennan (Tyrone), S Sheridan (Armagh); N McKeever (Antrim), R Donnelly (Tyrone); C Grugan (Tyrone), R McAnespie (Monaghan), M Argue (Cavan); P McBrearty (Donegal), K Hughes (Monaghan), C O’Boyle (Derry).
E Regan (Mayo) for O’Boyle (40), G McKinless (Derry) for Grugan (43), S Heavron (Derry) for Argue (47), P Hughes (Armagh) for Johnston (58).
P Hughes (Armagh).