UCC boss Billy Morgan slammed the GAA’s scheduling of the Sigerson Cup after watching his side escape Galway with a one-point victory.
UCC started Killian Spillane who played in Saturday’s All-Ireland club IFC semi-final for Templenoe while they brought on Diarmuid O’Connor who 24 hours earlier featured for Na Gaeil in their All-Ireland club JFC semi. Spillane managed to kick a key score before he trudged off exhausted and Morgan was not happy.
Morgain said: “It was tough. We were short six inter-county players there today thanks to Croke Park. A couple of years ago they closed December and January and now they are squeezing everything into January.
They start this competition and we’re not open (UCC) until next week. We had no preparation whatsoever over Christmas.
“As well as that you have the All-Ireland club. We had three players playing yesterday. They have started an U20 league, you have the McGrath Cup and the league is starting before the end of January!
“It is becoming an elite association and they are just catering for inter-county, while and clubs, third-level, and second-level are all suffering.”
After a slow start from UCC saw Galway race into a 0-4 to 0-0 lead with the outstanding Rob Finnerty and Finian Ó Laoi both scoring twice from open play. But then came a brilliant 11-minute spell from UCC where they fired 2-5 without reply. The goals came from Galway native Rory Cunningham and James McEntee.
NUIG had an inspirational figure of their own in Finnerty, who finished with 1-9. His goal in the 23rd minute lifted NUI Galway’s hopes and saw them only one adrift at the break (2-7 to 1-9).
Corofin and Galway defender Kieran Molloy was introduced at the interval and he kicked a great score in the final quarter after they had levelled through Finnerty and the impressive O Laoi.
With Sean O’Shea well marshalled by Mayo full-back Eoin O’Donoghue, UCC needed Colm O’Callaghan and Brian Hartnett scores to keep in touch, and after Spillane and O’Connor gave UCC the lead with good points, NUI Galway couldn’t force extra time when Dessie Conneely’s free slid past the post deep in added time.
Scorers for UCC: R Cunningham 1-1, J McEntee 1-1, M Cronin 0-3 (1f, 1mark), S O’Shea 0-2 (2f), D O’Connor 0-1, K Spillane 0-1, C Gammell 0-1, B Hartnett 0-1, C O’Callaghan 0-1.
Scorers for NUI Galway: R Finnerty (1-9) (3f, 1mark), F O Laoi 0-3, K Molloy 0-1.
UCC (all Cork unless started): E O’Brien (Kerry); L O’Donovan, D O’Brien (Kerry), M Flood (Meath); R Dunphy (Carlow), B Hartnett, J McEntee (Meath); P Lucey (Kerry), P Feehan (Tipperary); S O’Shea (Kerry), K Spillane (Kerry), C O’Callaghan; M Cronin, R Cunningham (Galway), J Naughton (Limerick).
Subs: D O’Connor (Kerry) for Feehan (46), G Murphy for Cunninghan (51), C Barrett for Spillane (57).
NUI GAWAY (all Galway unless stated): R O Beolain; K Carr (Louth), E O’Donoghue (Mayo), S Brennan (Mayo); K McDonnel (Sligo)l, S Mulkerrin, A Claffey, C Darcy, M Ruane (Mayo), F O’Laoi, N Mullen (Sligo), J Maher; R Finnerty, D Conneely, P O Donnell.
Subs: K Molloy for Carr (half-time), P Costello for Maher (36), G Burke for Claffey (40), I O’Sullivan (Longford) for O’Donnell (46), C Bohan for Brennan (57).
Referee: John Gilmartin (Sligo).