Once again for UCD, Jack McCaffrey started in attack and delivered a quite outstanding display, inspiring all of their best work as they cruised to a comfortable Sigerson Cup quarter-final win. The result secured UCD’s ticket to the finals weekend at UCC and a Dublin derby date with DCU in next Friday’s semi-final.
Presumably, UCD manager John Divilly will continue with McCaffrey in his half-forward line because he was simply peerless there, as he was in the previous round against Athlone IT.
Yesterday, he consistently ran from midfield at the GMIT defence and they couldn’t stop him. McCaffrey scored just two points but set up so much more and was involved in their 14th minute goal. That close-range palmed effort from Longford’s Mark Hughes went a long way to settling the contest as it put UCD 1-6 to 0-1 up on home soil.
Throw in the fact GMIT were significantly weakened by the omission of four Corofin players involved in tomorrow’s AIB All-Ireland Club semi-final and you get a sense of the difficulties they faced.
They did respond with an Andy Glennon goal but were nine down at half-time and 13 back by the three-quarter point when UCD began to take off key players like McCaffrey.
They clearly had one eye on next weekend’s trip to Cork though Dublin fans will be more concerned about making sure McCaffrey remains in this form for the season ahead.
“Jack is on his game this year both for us and for Dublin,” said UCD selector Bob O’Sullivan. “I think he had a bit of a lull last year but he’s playing very well and he’s captaining the side as well so we couldn’t ask for much more from him.”
The form of McCaffrey and players like Westmeath’s John Heslin and Niall Kelly of Kildare means UCD can travel to Cork in confident mood.
They lead the Sigerson Cup roll of honour though surprisingly it is 19 years since they last won the third level championship.
“It’s definitely too long,” said midfielder Heslin. “We’ll only be looking forward to the DCU game though and we won’t be looking past that hurdle.”
In truth, UCD were never troubled and with McCaffrey slaloming through GMIT virtually at will, he set up score after score.
He won the free that Heslin converted for the game’s opening score and he would also play in Ryan Basquel before scoring back to back points himself.
UCD were 1-11 to 1-2 up at the break and a strong third quarter ultimately put the game beyond the visitors. Dublin midfielder Brian Fenton pointed almost from the throw-in before McCaffrey played in Basquel for another score and then teed up Stephen Kilcoyne.
With 10 minutes to go UCD led 1-16 to 1-3 and as Divilly rolled on his full allocation of subs, GMIT recovered a little. They rallied with six late points but a bad day was summed up by Niall Darby’s skewed penalty attempt in the 55th minute which flew over.
Scorers for UCD: J Heslin (0-6, four frees), N Kelly (0-4), M Hughes (1-0), B Fenton, J McCaffrey and R Basquel (0-2 each), C Sheridan, S Kilcoyne and S O’Dea (0-1 each).
Scorers for GMIT: A Glennon (1-0), N Darby (0-3, 0-1 pen) and A Meenaghan (0-3f) (0-3 each), C Donoghue, S Mellett and K Nally (0-1 each).
UCD: E Keogh (Laois); R Wylie (Monaghan), D Byrne (Dublin), M O Cathalain (Dublin); P Harnan (Meath), C Mulally (Dublin), A Murphy (Wicklow); C Sheridan (Meath), J Heslin (Westmeath); B Fenton (Dublin), J McCaffrey (Dublin), E Nolan (Wexford); R Basquel (Dublin), M Hughes (Longford), N Kelly (Kildare).
Subs: S Kilcoyne (Sligo) for O Cathalain (h/t), S O’Dea (Limerick) for Hughes (h/t), C Lenehan (Meath) for Sheridan (39), P Reilly (Louth) for Nolan (39), E O’Byrne (Wexford) for McCaffrey (54), R Carr (Louth) for Basquel (54).
GMIT: C Nolan (Galway); S O’Malley (Roscommon), B O’Farrell (Longford), D Moran (Galway); E Egan (Roscommon), S Burke (Galway), C Donoghue (Offaly); P Holloway (Westmeath), M O’Brien (Galway); N Darby (Offaly), S Mellett (Mayo), F Durkan (Mayo); K Nally (Galway), A Glennon (Roscommon), A Meenaghan (Galway).
Subs: M Shaughnessy (Galway) for Glennon (40), J Madden (Cavan) for Mellett (49).
Referee: D Gough (Meath).