UCC 1-12 Garda College 2-7... UCC advanced to a Sigerson Cup quarter-final with NUIG next week thanks to a rescue job led by two Kerry men, Sean O’Shea and Killian Spillane.
Spillane, son of Kerry legend Tom, slotted home a late penalty to deny a spirited Garda College side in a tense Sigerson Cup game at the JK Brackens ground in Templemore.
However, it was O’Shea who crowned a magnificent week for himself with a classy display to back up what he showed in the Allianz League win over Donegal on Sunday.
UCC selector Paul O’Keeffe heaped praise on O’Shea, as they go in search of a 22nd Sigerson Cup title and first since 2014.
“He’s class, he’s quality and he showed it out there. What he brings to UCC football is immense,” said O’Keeffe.
“I’m sure he will be tormenting Cork in Killarney for many years to come, but we won’t hold that against him, we will just enjoy him while he is here in UCC with us.”
He praised Spillane for having the composure to slot home the winning penalty at the death — when they were down a point — even though the sideline instruction was to take the draw.
“We told him to go for the point; at that stage you’d have taken the draw, but it was real Sigerson football, a real dogfight, but what a finish from the penalty. It was great composure from Killian and it was real ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff. We are just relieved to get out of here. They are a fine side,” said O’Keeffe.
Garda College manager Andy Lacey congratulated UCC on their win, but said his side were gutted by having victory snatched from them.
“It’s gut-wrenching. We just needed to hold it out. It was quite akin to the Cork-Tipperary match last year. I’m a Tipp man myself and I was at it. Tipp were a point ahead and from a quick kick-out, Cork moved the ball downfield and scored a goal and it was all over. It was a sucker-punch here as well, but I’m very proud of those boys,” said Lacey.
UCC secured the win, despite playing more than half the match with 14 men, after corner-forward Gary Murphy picked up yellow cards for clumsy challenges. He had got UCC off the mark, but Garda College got a big break after seven minutes when Jonathan Ryan had the opening goal. That tied the match and they were level four times in the opening half, turning around deadlocked at 1-5 to 0-8.
Tommy McDaniel fired home a 46th-minute penalty to put Garda College in the driving seat, but O’Shea led the UCC comeback, with Stephen Sherlock shooting the equaliser six minutes from time.
Garda College, who also finished with 14 men when Alan Gaughan was black-carded in the dying seconds, looked set for a quarter-final tie with NUIG when Ryan struck a superb score, as the game slipped into stoppage time.
UCC, though, did not panic and, when they countered, Spillane was fouled and the Templenoe clubman got up to slot home the winner with a perfect penalty.
Scorers for UCC:
K Spillane 1-3 (1-0pen), S O’Shea 0-5 (2f), G Murphy, J Kennedy 0-1, K Crowley 0-1, S Sherlock 0-1.
Scorers for Garda College:
J Ryan 1-2, T McDaniel 1-2 (1-0pen), D Gallagher 0-1, P Kelleher 0-1, D Meehan 0-1.
M Martin (Cork); F Clifford (Kerry), J Foley (Kerry), M McSweeney (Cork); K Crowley (Cork), S Cronin (Cork), C Kelly (Cork); J Kennedy (Tipperary), A Barry (Kerry); B O Beaglaoich (Kerry), S O’Shea (Kerry), K Flahive (Cork); G Murphy (Cork), C Dorgan (Cork), K Spillane (Kerry).
S Sherlock (Cork) for Dorgan 50, L O’Donovan (Cork) for Clifford 54.
S Murphy (Limerick), R O’Connor (Galway), S Gaul (Wexford), K Histon (Cork); K Daly (Westmeath), T Featherstone (Roscommon), P Varley (Galway); C Russell (Clare), D Gallagher (Longford); E Cleary (Clare), P Kelleher (Cork), G Rodgers (Longford); J Ryan (Galway), D Meehan (Cavan), T McDaniel (Westmeath).
S Cunningham (Dublin) for Cleary 38, A Gaughan (Westmeath) for Russell 44, E Duffy ((Louth) for Kelleher 48, S Ryan (Clare) for Meehan 52, J Morris (Cavan) for Featherstone 55, G Casey (Cork) for McDaniel 60.
John Hickey (Carlow)
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