DCU showed an ability to pick off long-range points when assisted by the elements in the first half, eventually helping them to a 1-8 to 1-2 victory over Wexford in their O’Byrne Cup Group A clash in last night.
Having got their campaign off to a winning start, DCU overcame the atrocious conditions of driving rain and wind and a rain-sodden pitch to serve up some quality football.
They never trailed in this game, having swept into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead inside 10 minutes with points through Mark Plunkett, Conor McHugh, David Mannix and Conor McGraynor (with a huge 55m free), while Kevin O’Grady managed a pointed free for the home side in between.
DCU’s dominance of the opening half continued as they added a further three points to lead 0-7 to 0-2 at half-time, with O’Grady adding his side’s second point just on the break. The students showed a good ability to retain possession on the resumption and McGraynor’s 34th-minute goal increased their lead to eight points, 1-7 to 0-2.
Wexford gave themselves hope when Jamie Carty goaled three minutes later but this proved their only score of the half.
As the conditions deteriorated into a mudbath, with pools of water all over the pitch, only a single point was scored for the remaining 23 minutes, DCU’s Mark Plunkett scoring two minutes from the end.
DCU will top the group if they avoid defeat against Dublin at the weekend.
At O’Moore Park, Laois came back from a five-point first half deficit to beat Carlow 1-16 to 1-9 in Group C, making it two wins from two for new manager Mick Lillis.
John Murphy’s goal gave Carlow the initiative early on, but Paul Cahillane fired in a superb response for Laois, as points from Donie Kingston had them five clear at half-time.
They steadily built on that in the second half, as three Gary Walsh points saw them claim a comfortable win in the end.
Laois are now the favourites to top the group after UCD managed to beat Meath by 2-8 to 0-11 at Simonstown, Dublin’s Colm Basquel scoring a decisive goal for the students.
Tom Hayes had an early goal for UCD, though it was the wind-assisted Meath who led at half-time, by 0-8 to 1-3.
UCD made the most of the elements in the second period, however, and Basquel’s goal gave them the lead late on.
Meath sub Donal Keogan did have a chance of a late equalising goal but he saw his shot crash off the crossbar.
Wicklow are out of contention as they suffered their second Group D loss in four days, losing by 1-15 to 0-9 points against Maynooth University.
The visitors were well on top in the first half, with Ronan Kennedy’s goal helping them to lead by 1-12 to 0-3 at half-time. Kennedy also scored three points, as did Joey Wallace, while Neil Flynn registered five.
Wicklow tried to stage a fight back in the second half but a fightback was never a realistic proposition.
Westmeath are in control of the group as they staged a dramatic second-half recovery to pip Longford by a point, 0-14 to 1-10, at Lakepoint Park in Mullingar.
Inspired by some fine free-taking by Brian Kavanagh and a 16th-minute goal by Michael Brady, Longford went in at half-time leading by 10 points, 1-10 to 0-3, having played with the wind.
In the second half, Longford sat back and wind-assisted Westmeath cut into the lead with Ger Egan and Kieran Martin the main scorers.
With Longford failing to score in the second half, late points from Martin and Egan brought Westmeath level before Denis Corroon scored the winning point to clinch a dramatic victory.
In Group B, 1-3 from Killian O’Gara helped Dublin IT to withstand a third-quarter rally from Offaly at Dunganny in Meath last night, winning 2-11 to Offally’s 0-10, ensuring that all four sides will be tied on two points going into the final round of games.
The foundation for DIT’s win was laid in the first half when Offaly kicked eight wides and dropped three shots short, despite playing with the slight aid of a fiercely-strong diagonal wind. Liam Irwin kicked two wonderful points for the students while a brilliantly-finished Ryan Connolly goal gave them a 1-6 to 0-3 interval lead.
Offaly rallied after the restart and kicked five points in a row to reduce the gap to one, while they could have taken the lead only for referee Noel McKenna’s decision to pull back play for a 13m free when Shane Dooley was dragged down and the ball ran loose to Anton Sullivan to kick it into an empty net.
A close-range goal and two excellent scores from O’Gara steadied the ship for DIT, however, and they eased home from there, with scoring growing increasingly difficult in the ferociously inclement weather.
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