UCC manager Tom Kingston described Mark Coleman’s winning sideline cut as ‘incredible’ after the reigning champions booked their place in the Fitzgibbon Cup final.
The 39-time winners looked in real trouble against DCU on their home patch, but fought back and the Cork inter-county star landed an awesome point to seal the win in the 65th minute.
They will now face IT Carlow in Wednesday’s final at the DCU Sportsgrounds, but this was a win to savour.
“I’m out of breath,” said Kingston.
“It was an incredibly hard, incredibly tough game but we finished like champions.
“Heart is the thing you need to win Fitzgibbon or any championship. You have to have fighting heart and winning heart and our fellas showed it in abundance.
“We were under serious pressure but I can’t say enough about our guys, the way they came back. It was incredible what they did. DCU looked as though they were on top and in the zone.
“But in fairness, our lads never dropped their heads. They kept fighting and fighting.
“And then Mark Coleman put that over so it’s just incredible.”
Darragh Fitzgibbon put UCC in front inside the opening minute, and although Rory O’Connor equalised it looked like the Cork outfit would run away with it.
Storm Ciara wreaked havoc but it didn’t deter Shane Conway and O’Connor in the first half while they fired off the frees.
When Conway converted his second placed ball it put UCC into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead in the 12th minute, and they were 0-9 to 0-3 in front when Shane Kingston doubled his tally for the day.
But DCU finally gained a foothold towards the end of the first half. They came in on the back of their sensational victory in the Sigerson Cup a week earlier, and confidence was high in the ranks.
O’Connor scored three points in-a-row to draw them back into the game, 0-10 to 0-8, before the break.
And there was still time for substitutes Adrian and Darren Mullen to score and ensure that the teams were level, 0-11 to 0-11, at half-time.
O’Connor popped up with a couple of points on the resumption but Conway stemmed the flow. Nevertheless, backed by their home support, DCU went into a 0-16 to 0-12 lead.
Later in the game they were 0-17 to 0-15 in front but substitute Neil Montgomery and Mark Kehoe tied things up and then Coleman did the rest.
Scorers for UCC: S Conway (0-8, 7 frees); S Kingston (0-3); N Montgomery (0-2); D Fitzgibbon, R O’Flynn, M O’Halloran, M Kehoe, M Coleman (sl) (0-1 each).
Scorers for DCU: R O’Connor (0-11, 10 frees); J Bergin (0-2); D Burke, J Burke, A Mullen, D Mullen (0-1 each)
Subs: M O’Halloran (Cork) for Griffin (39), N Montgomery (Waterford) for Boylan (44), B Sheehan (Cork) for O’Flynn (52), A Casey (Waterford) for Fitzgibbon (63).
DCU: O Foley (Wexford); C Firman (Wexford), P Smyth (Dublin), C Burke (Dublin); L Gannon (Dublin), B Ryan (Limerick), E Shefflin (Kilkenny); D Reck (Wexford), R McBride (Dublin); J Donnelly (Kilkenny), J Burke (Kildare), R O’Connor (Wexford); J Bergin (Kilkenny), J Ryan (Kilkenny), D Burke ( Dublin).
Subs: D Mullen (Kilkenny) for Shefflin (24), A Mullen (Kilkenny) for J Ryan (26), F Whitely (Dublin) for J Burke (52), F MacGibb (Dublin) for Bergin (61).
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary)