UCD find extra gear in Ulster thriller

University of Ulster 1-13 UCD 0-18 (after double extra-time)

UCD find extra gear in Ulster thriller

The 2016 champions and University of Ulster played around 100 exhausting minutes in Inniskeen last night, with little to separate two shattered teams at the end. UCD will face NUIG in the decider in Santry.

Monaghan’s Conor McCarthy lit up the final quarter of normal time with four points in the last 15 minutes to put UCD 0-12 to 0-10 ahead going into injury-time.

However, Tyrone referee Sean Hurson played a generous six minutes stoppage time and Lee Brennan’s free, followed by Gareth McKinless’ 66th-minute point, forced extra time, as it finished level 0-12 each.

Tyrone’s Mark Bradley scored the only goal of the game two minutes into extra time, with a close-range finish from Lee Brennan’s superb pass.

However, UCD took over, with Evan O’Carroll deadly from placed balls and McCarthy continuing his scoring form, as they nudged in front in the second half of extra time.

For the second time, the Jordanstown outfit snatched a late point to force an extension in the game. Rory Brennan’s 81st-minute point tying the scores at 1-13 to 0-16, teeing up a further five minutes each side.

UU failed to score in either half of double extra time.

Ó Seanacháin’s 86th-minute point, followed by O’Callaghan’s simple tap-over free, proved decisive.

The first half was a 30-minute yawn, UU reluctant to commit bodies to the attack and, when they did come out with the ball, they frequently got turned over in possession.

Niall Madine, their only player inside the UCD ‘45’ for most of the half, showed well and linked up with Mark Bradley, who got on a lot of ball, but there was little end product.

Both teams were star-studded, with an array of county players; UCD with Con O’Callaghan and Kerry midfield duo Jack Barry and Barry O’Sullivan, but there was little attacking ambition from either side.

Three times UCD took the lead and three times UU equalised.

Tipperary’s Liam Casey got the opening score for UCD in the third minute with a right-footed point, which Tyrone’s Frank Burns — a late change in the starting team — cancelled out with a long-range effort three minutes later.

UCD hit four first-half wides and Laois’ Evan O’Carroll dropped a simple free short, but made amends with a 45 soon after.

Derry’s Terence O’Brien, not renowned for his dead-ball striking, converted a fine effort off the ground to leave it 0-3 each at the end of a tortuous first half.

The intensity and pace of the game was upped significantly after the break.

UU took the lead for the first time in the second minute through fullback Michael McKernan, who seconds earlier had blocked Jack Barry’s goal-bound shot at the other end. Inside 11 minutes, UU streaked clear at 0-8 to 0-5 to put the first real daylight between the teams, with points from Rory Brennan, Niall Madine and Lee Brennan’s 45.

Liam Casey’s second point and O’Carroll’s free kept UCD in touch and, with Barry and O’Sullivan an increasing influence in midfield, they soon levelled matters, with three frees in as many minutes from O’Carroll, O’Callaghan and McCarthy.

After a quiet opening half, McCarthy nailed 0-4, two from play, in the last quarter to give UCD the initiative again.

They led 0-12 to 0-10 going into extra time through sub Liam Silke’s point, but in a generous six minutes of injury-time, Lee Brennan and Gareth McKinless snatched extra time.

Scorers for UU: L Brennan 0-3 (1 45, 1f), M Bradley 1-0, F Burns, R McNamee, R Brennan 0-2 each, T O’Brien 0-1 (f), N Madine, M McKernan, G McKinless 0-1 each,

Scorers for UCD: C McCarthy 0-6 (3f), E O’Carroll 0-5 (3f, 2 45s), L Casey 0-2, C O’Callaghan 0-2 (2f), E Lowry, 0-1 (f), L Silke, B Ó Seanacháin 0-1 each.

Ulster University: S Fox; M Magee, M McKernan, M McEvoy; R Brennan, R McNamee, G McKinless; T O’Brien, J Munroe; R McAnespie, M Bradley, E McHugh; L Brennan, N Madine, F Burns

Subs: D Mulgrew for Madine (55), D Gallagher for Burns (55), D Tallon for McAnespie (60), F Burns for McNamee (70), R McAnespie for McHugh (78).

UCD: C Manton; L Fortune, C O’Shea, P Healy; S Coen, C Mullaly, J Feehan; B O’Sullivan, J Barry; L Casey, C McCarthy, B Byrne; C O’Callaghan, E O’Carroll, E Lowry

Subs: B O Seanachain for Casey (40), T Hayes for Lowry (42), L Silke for Byrne (50), P O’Connor for Feehan (70), L Moran for O’Connor (77) Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)

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