C of I forced into stunning comeback

Cork C of I 3 UCC 3 (C of I win 5-4 on penalties after aet)
Cork Church of Ireland displayed all their fighting qualities to rescue a desperate situation and retain their Peard Cup crown in a stunning St Stephen’s Day encounter.

Unbackable favourites against a UCC side they beat 5-1 in the league in October, the hosts found themselves 3-1 down with six minutes to go.

But goals from Andrew Daunt and Nigel Buttimer drew them level and they survived a last-play penalty corner to force extra-time. They then prevailed on penalty strokes, netting all five of their efforts.

Such drama hardly looked likely after a forgettable first half, notable only for College still being in contention at 1-1. Stephen Sweetnam had been given too much room to roam and place a reverse-stick shot to the bottom corner to put C of I in front, but Andrew Scannell levelled when his harmless-looking drag-flick down the middle deceived goalkeeper Billy Lynch.

However, the game exploded into life early in the second period when UCC’s Shrew Power got a beautiful deft touch to redirect Adam O’Callaghan’s crashed sideline ball to the bottom corner.

With O’Callaghan, Scannell and David Doherty in imperious and Brian Corcoran saving everything that came at him, it looked set to be UCC’s day when they produced a memorable breakaway goal, Gary Wilkinson playing in Fionn O’Leary, who rifled a bouncing ball under Lynch while off-balance for 3-1.

C of I’s powerful short corner unit had malfunctioned throughout but it gave them a lifeline with six minutes remaining. The injection was mistrapped but John Jermyn’s lightning readjustment allowed him switch the ball to Andrew Daunt, who fired under Corcoran.

Nigel Buttimer then caught College napping with a quick free, before unleashing a rasper from the top of the circle to tie it up.

To strokes it eventually went, and the shootout’s key moment centred on O’Callaghan. He was forced to retake his penalty after going too early first time out; that effort was saved anyway, but he sent his second wide.

It was left to C of I’s Andrew Gray to finish the job against his old club. Just over a year ago he won an intervarsities for UCC in the same scenario — finally breaking a personal duck after nine attempts — and he made no mistake.

Annadale caused a big shock by winning Ulster’s Kirk Cup, ousting Lisnagarvey on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

In Leinster, Richie Shaw’s goal handed Glenanne their 10th Neville Cup title as they edged a profligate YMCA 1-0.

CORK C OF I: B Lynch (GK); R Lynch, A Gray, P Smith, N Buttimer; A Daunt, A Burns, R Sweetnam; A Moffett, S Sweetnam, S Parker.

Rolling subs: J Jermyn (capt), S Wolfe, P Sweetnam, P Daunt, J Phillips (GK).

UCC: B Corcoran (GK); W Brownlow, A O’Callaghan, A Scannell, J Catchpole; P Catchpole (capt), A Colton, S O’Grady; F O’Leary, A Power, G Wilkinson.

Rolling subs: G Chambers, J Sweetnam, S Thompson, D Doherty.

Umpires: B Attridge & P Murphy.


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