UCC stunned by Galway conquerors

Well now, this was a turn up for the books. The NUIG celebrations, after five drama-filled minutes of second-half injury-time, told as much.

UCC stunned by Galway conquerors

It was the spring of 2003 when the Galway university last held ownership of the Sigerson Cup. There was no 15-year gap bridged yesterday afternoon, although that was somewhat hard to tell such was their delight — justified, at that — at the final whistle.

On offer here was a semi-final berth. UCC were favourites for it. And rightly so. It’s very rare for a UCC team, under the watchful eye of Billy Morgan, to be turned over on their own patch when the Sigerson Cup rolls into the Mardyke every January and February.

Yesterday afternoon was different. Strange different.

The visitors bossed this quarter-final from start to finish. They were 1-4 to 0-0 in front after 23 minutes. Morgan’s students didn’t manage a score until the 25th minute, that a Stephen Sherlock free. He’d add a second placed-ball effort before the call for half-time. That was their lot for the opening half an hour. Not a single score from play.

Thirty-two minutes had passed when Sherlock kicked their first from play, 42 minutes had passed when a UCC player, other than the St Finbarr’s and Cork forward, found the target.

By this juncture, their opponents had been reduced to 14 men, corner-back Aaron O’Connor receiving a straight red card for a challenge on Sherlock. The numerical advantage did nothing to improve the UCC cause and it certainly didn’t hinder the visitors. Maurice Sheridan’s charges actually outscored their hosts by 0-4 to 0-3 after O’Connor’s dismissal.

Perhaps, we shouldn’t be so surprised at the result. We had all heard or read about UCC’s escape last week where an injury-time Killian Spillane penalty got them out of jail against the Garda College. Did they use up all their lives in Templemore? It would seem so.

The notable difference between the UCC team which lined out last week in Tipperary and yesterday was Sean O’Shea. The Kerry senior kicked five points in the first round. Yesterday, he didn’t feature.

The home side began in rather listless fashion, with Ronan Buckley kicking wide an early goal chance. It was the first of four successive wides, followed by a Brian Ó Beaglaoich effort which dropped short.

NUIG weren’t exactly the model of efficiency up the other end, but they were at least making a portion of their chances stick. Enda Tierney, Brian Donovan and Cein D’Arcy raised white flags before Donovan, on 17 minutes, collected an Adam Gallagher pass and drilled his shot past Eoghan O’Brien. But for seven first-half wides their interval advantage would have been far more significant than 1-4 to 0-2.

Peter Cooke was colossal around the middle and while Damien Comer was not among the scorers, he was unselfish in everything he did. Enda Tierney, lively half-back Kieran Molloy and Sean Kelly kept their account ticking over after O’Connor’s red card departure.

Kevin Crowley’s point — UCC’s first in 16 minutes — and Sherlock’s third free cut the margin to four, 1-8 to 0-7, entering second-half stoppages.

Galway attempted to play keep ball hereafter, but were turned over deep inside their own half which led to ‘keeper Tadgh O’Malley pulling down Michael MacSweeney. O’Malley was black-carded for the indiscretion. Comer initially appeared as if he was going to stand in for the resultant penalty before substitute ‘keeper Manus Breathnach arrived on the scene.

Killian Spillane was asked to repeat his heroics from last year. Breathnach got down low to stop the penalty.

NUIG now meet DIT in the semi-final next week.

Sigerson Cup: UCC 0-7 - NUIG 1-9

Scorers for NUIG:

B Donovan (1-1); E Tierney, C D’Arcy (0-2 each); K Molloy, A Gallagher (free), O Gallagher, S Kelly (0-1 each).

Scorers for UCC:

S Sherlock (0-5, 0-3 frees); K Spillane, K Crowley (0-1 each).

NUIG:

T O’Malley (Galway); S Brennan (Mayo), S Mulkerrin (Galway), A O’Connor (Kerry); K Molloy (Galway), R Greene (Galway), G O’Kelly Lynch (Sligo); C D’Arcy (Galway), P Cooke (Galway); A Gallagher (Mayo), O Gallagher (Antrim), E Tierney (Galway); B Donovan (Limerick), D Comer (Galway), S Kelly (Galway).

Subs:

R O’Toole (Westmeath) for Donovan, E Finnerty (Galway) for O Gallagher (both 47 mins); C Kelly (Donegal) for O’Kelly Lynch (52); M Breathnach (Galway) for O’Malley (62, bc).

UCC:

E O’Brien (Kerry); F Clifford (Kerry), J Foley (Kerry), M MacSweeney (Cork); B Ó Beaglaoich (Kerry), K Crowley (Cork), C Kiely (Cork); J Kennedy (Tipperary), A Barry (Kerry); R Buckley (Kerry), A Spillane (Kerry), K Flahive (Cork); C Dorgan (Cork), K Spillane (Kerry), S Sherlock (Cork).

Subs:

D O’Brien (Kerry) for Clifford (20 mins); P Lucey (Kerry) for Buckley (26); G O’Sullivan (Kerry) for Flahive (49); C Bambury (Kerry) for Kiely (52).

Referee:

J Hickey (Carlow).

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