“A victory for football” is how Billy Morgan described this latest Sigerson Cup final win, his fifth as a player or manager.
Morgan was at the helm when UCC claimed the title in 2011 and ’14, when they saw off University of Ulster, Jordanstown, and it was against northern opposition that he again led the college to success.
However, the Cork legend took particular satisfaction in this latest achievement, given the nature of the challenge presented by St Mary’s College.
“I won two myself and this is the third as a manager and I suppose, because it’s tonight… I remember winning the first one against Jordanstown in Dublin and then beating Jordanstown in Belfast, which was a fabulous victory against the odds, but tonight and the system Mary’s play, it was always going to be hard for us to get past them, but I’m just delighted we did. I’m not going to say anything about the style of football, but it’s a kind of victory for football that we won and the way we tried to play.”
Morgan felt UCC would have won irrespective of St Mary’s player Aaron Boyle’s 44th-minute red card, when he followed a yellow card with a black card offence.
“I think we were still going to win. Mary’s mightn’t agree with me, but we were on the up and up at the time. We were composed and coming forward and opening them up a bit, because they were behind and had to come out a little bit more and leaving gaps behind. We were sort of getting through them and creating scores.”
UCC were excellent in the first half in piercing a stacked St Mary’s defence with quick and intricate passing.
“We know all about St Mary’s, they beat us in the Sigerson semi-final two years ago and I saw them against UCD in the semi-final and they’re an ultra-defensive team difficult to break down. The only way you can break them down is quick passing and running through the middle and somebody coming off the shoulder to take it and we have those players, particularly Seánie O’Shea who kicked over some great points,” said Morgan.
Three of his subs scored points in the closing stages.
“We have a very strong squad. We won the league before Christmas, but we were missing a good few strong player like Seán O’Shea and Brian Ó Beaglaoich and another few who had to come back in, but the fellas who dropped out were very strong and were very unlucky to lose their places. We also knew that we would have no problem bringing them in and they did us justice and they finished the game strongly for us,” said Morgan, who also praised Daniel O’Brien.
“He came in for James McEntee. He was a Kerry minor and U21 and he’s been injured all year, but I reckon he will make the seniors before too long.”