Kieran Molloy was rushed by Garda car from Tullamore on Saturday afternoon, where he played the full game for AIB All-Ireland club semi-final winners Corofin, to appear as a sub for NUI Galway in Santry Avenue.
Liam Silke scored the winning goal for Corofin and is a UCD player though, unlike Sheridan, UCD boss John Divilly told Silke he wasn’t required.
UCD trio Barry O’Sullivan and Jack Barry (both Kerry) and man-of-the-match Conor McCarthy (Monaghan), who hit 1-6, had also been named to play for their counties in the Allianz league yesterday.
And NUI Galway’s Kevin McDonnell and Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch are with Sligo who had a league clash with Fermanagh.
“We dashed Kieran up the road,” said a frustrated Sheridan after the one-point defeat. “He’s a heroic type of guy. He loves his club, he loves his university and he’s a very honest individual. It’s a pity that we didn’t have him (fully) and it’s a pity that the final wasn’t allowed to be on a bit later in the day. The GAA have to look at that in terms of player welfare and all the stuff that they go on about.”
Sheridan, speaking immediately after the game, said the GAA knew about the clashing fixtures for weeks but did nothing about it.
He continued: “They did. It’s obscene. We’ve got guys who are involved in National League games Sunday. It’s absolutely horrendous.”
John Divilly has now led UCD to two titles in three seasons and knows the fixtures issue intimately at this stage.
“This was flagged three months ago that this could happen,” said Divilly. “If the GAA are serious about this, and there is a new GAA President coming in, he needs to sit down with third level colleges, and I don’t mean the third level committee, the committee are doing their best but they need to bring us all in and say, ‘How can we make this competition survive into the future?’”
It’s understood that Silke, who netted a crucial goal for Corofin in their win, suffered a hand injury in that game though wouldn’t have been used by Divilly anyhow.
“Liam was going to travel up if we wanted him but I wasn’t going to put him in there, no way,” said Divilly. “Fair play to Kieran Molloy, he came in and he played brilliant. But I wouldn’t do that to a player.”
UCD were fortunate to be on level terms at half-time at 1-5 to 0-8. NUI Galway captain Damien Comer started brilliantly and palmed onto the angle of post and bar in the 20th minute when a goal would have put the westerners 1-5 to 0-1 ahead.
UCD recycled the ball and just moments later scored a goal themselves through McCarthy to leave only a point in it.
NUI Galway, chasing a first title since 2003, still led by two with 10 minutes to go but UCD outscored them 0-4 to 0-1 in the run-in.
All-Star Dublin attacker Con O’Callaghan got one of those late points along with McCarthy though Tipperary’s Liam Casey proved the match-winner with the game’s last two scores.
“It could have gone either way with the goals they got and the few chances they had,” said McCarthy. “ I think our resolve is what got us over the line in the end.”
Dual star O’Callaghan, an AIB All-Ireland club hurling finalist with Cuala, returned to the UCD setup for last Wednesday’s semi-final win over Ulster University and lined out again on Saturday.
“Con knew that if there was a little window that he would get game time with us if he wanted,” said Divilly. “So we’re delighted he did. And I’m delighted for him personally. He has a lot going on in his life but he handles it better than I would anyway.”
UCD’s 34th title success is their second in three seasons having beaten DCU in the 2016 final and lost to St Mary’s last year.
“Two in three seasons, it’s nice when you put it like that but all I’m hearing is that it should have been three-in-a-row,” said Divilly. “But if you don’t kick the ball over the bar you’re not going to win a game. Mary’s did that last year. Maybe that drove the guys on quietly this year.”
Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup final: UCD 1-13 NUIG 2-9
C. McCarthy (1-6, 3 frees); L. Casey (0-3); E. Lowry (0-2); E. O’Carroll, C. O’Callaghan (0-1 each).
A. Gallagher (1-3, 3 frees); S. Kelly (1-0); E. Tierney (1 free), D. Comer (0-3 each).
C. Manton (Tipperary); P. Healy (Antroim), C. O’Shea (Dublin), C. Mullally (Dublin); L. Fortune (Cavan), J. Feehan (Tipperary), S. Coen (Mayo) (C); B. O’Sullivan (Kerry), J. Barry (Kerry); L. Casey (Tipperary), C .McCarthy (Monaghan), B. Byrne (Kildare); E. Lowry (Laois), E. O’Carroll (Laois), C. O’Callaghan (Dublin).
B. O’Seanachain (Kerry) for Fortune (h/t); T. Hayes for O’Carroll (58).
T. O’Malley (Galway); K. McDonnell (Sligo), S. Mulkerrin (Galway), S. Brennan (Mayo); G. O’Kelly-Lynch (Sligo), R. Greene (Galway), C. Kelly (Donegal); C. D’Arcy (Galway), P. Cooke (Galway); E. Tierney (Galway), O. Gallagher (Antrim), A. Gallagher (Mayo); S. Kelly (Galway), D. Comer (Galway) (C), B. Donovan (Limerick).
R. O’Toole (Westmeath) for Kelly (34); K. Molloy (Galway) for Greene (39); E. Finnerty (Galway) for O Gallagher (44); R. Forde (Galway) for Donovan (46).
J. McQuillan (Cavan).