Seán O’Shea was to the fore as UCC claimed a 22nd Sigerson Cup and a first in five years in O’Moore Park.
St Mary’s were dogged and Shane McGuigan was impressive but they couldn’t withstand the pressure piled on them by O’Shea, who kicked seven points, or his team-mates who pushed on in the final quarter with an extra man.
UCC went four points up earlier in the second half but it was always going to be a case of how they were going to deal with wind-assisted St Mary’s coming back at them. Cian Kiely’s score from an acute angle in the 39th minute was much-needed after back-to-back Marys’ scores.
Just minutes after picking up a yellow, Aaron Boyle was dismissed for a black card foul on Kevin Flahive in the 44th minute. St Mary’s had only brought themselves to within a point of UCC after a couple of unanswered scores, the latter of them a Stephen McConville free after advantage had been played when Liam Rafferty kicked a goal attempt just wide.
McGuigan did bring St Mary’s level in the 48th minute but that parity was shortlived as O’Shea stepped up to angle over a point. Jarlath Óg Burns was a force too but seconds after that McGuigan point O’Shea put UCC back into a lead that they never relinquished.
Scores from Paudie Clifford and substitutes James Naughton, Garry Murphy and Conal Ó hAinfin gave UCC the cushion to bring them to glory.
Aware that they had to start well against the breeze, McGuigan was off the mark inside the opening minute and he was again on target with a free after a silly Pádraig Lucey foul on the Slaughtneil man.
UCC, though, found their range after a couple of loose early shots when Clifford belted over a fine score having pierced the St Mary’s defence. His fellow countyman sent over a free two minutes later and UCC were well and truly settled by the 11th minute when Graham O’Sullivan sent over an outside-of-the-boot effort from distance. For a big man, Lucey then showed some great dexterity to make up for the
cheap free he gave up early on when he dropped a ball over Mark Reid’s bar.
Just as UCC might have congratulated themselves for that barrage of scores, a mistake by Mark White in dealing with a Ryan Coleman point attempt that dropped short cost them a goal. Following up on Coleman’s
strike was McGuigan who managed to make the UCC goalkeeper fumble and then get a touch that just made it over the line.
Another O’Shea free quickly levelled matters but UCC were breathing a sigh of relief soon after as Rafferty was illegally brought down in the large parallelogram only to have taken too many steps and David Gough’s decision was unequivocal.
An off-the-ball foul by Kevin Flahive on McGuigan provided McConville with a relatively easy free to nudge St Mary’s ahead once more but they didn’t score for the remainder of the half.
What was most impressive about UCC in the opening half was the speed of their offloads. Knowing full well they would be swallowed up if isolated, they distributed at such pace that they were able to carve out chances, O’Shea’s 23rd minute score from play being a prime example when Eimhiín Courtney teed him up.
O’Shea was a thundering presence throughout the period but then O’Sullivan’s shots from distance were impressive too and the Dromid Pearses man helped himself to a second score in the 26th minute.
O’Shea punished a foul on Brian Ó Beaglaoich before he booted over a long-range free that he won himself to see out the scoring for the half and sent UCC into the break 0-10 to 1-3 ahead.
S. O’Shea (0-7, 5 frees); P. Clifford G. O’Sullivan (0-2 each); P. Lucey, C. Kiely, J. Naughton, G. Murphy, C. Ó hAinfin (0-1 each).
S. McGuigan (1-5, 0-2 frees); S. McConville (0-2, frees); M. Rooney, R. McCusker (0-1 each).
M. White (Clonakilty); M. Flood (St Bridgets, Meath), K. Flahive (Douglas), G. O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses, Kerry); D. O’Brien (Glenflesk, Kerry), B. Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht, Kerry), C. Kiely (c, Ballincollig); P. Lucey (Killarney Legion, Kerry), J. Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials. Tipperary); P. Clifford (Fossa, Kerry), S. O’Shea (Kenmare Shamrocks, Kerry), C. Horgan (Nemo Rangers); C. Geaney (Dingle, Kerry), K. Spillane (Templenoe, Kerry), E. Courtney (Éire Óg,Ennis).
D. Shaw (Dr Crokes, Kerry) for C. Horgan (h-t); J. Naughton (St Senan’s, Limerick) for E. Courtney, E. Finnerty (Mountbellew, Galway) for K. Spillane, G. Murphy (Castletownbere) for C. Geaney (all 53); C. Ó Hainfin (Éire Óg, Ennis, Clare) for D. O’Brien (60).
M. Reid (Down); M. Rooney (Down), C. Dillon (Armagh), L. Rafferty (Tyrone); C. Byrne (Tyrone), R. McSherry (Armagh), A. Duffy (Armagh); J. Burns (Armagh), L. Devlin (Down); S. McConville (Down), R. Coleman (Tyrone), A. Boyle (Armagh); N. Toner (Derry), S. McGuigan (Derry), C. McKinney (Armagh).
D. McKinless (Derry) for C. Byrne (53).
D. Gough (Meath).