UCC had to come from behind to win and they showed huge reserves of spirit and determination to deny UCD throughout a tense and dramatic final twenty minutes.
Seldom has the tenacity of a team been tested as was UCC’s for they had to overcome the huge disappointment of seeing two penalty attempts saved by inspired UCD keeper James Myers in a pulsating spell mid-way through the second half.
A goal then would surely have broken UCD and provided UCC with a comfortable cushion as both sides began to show the tiredness they must inevitably have been feeling after a demanding programme of five matches in five days.
When that goal was denied by Myers as he saved first from Shane Hennessy in the 60th minute and then again from Paul Rose three minutes later, UCD were given a huge boost.
It was a reflection of UCC’s capacity for hard work and their disciplined team-work that they did not concede as they came under increasing pressure from that point. Only once were UCD close and then Jack O’Connell rescued his team when he headed off the goal-line after the tall Niall Donnelly got his head to a corner from Hugh Davey in the 67th minute.
It was entirely in keeping with the trend of an absorbing contest that it was UCC who created the better scoring chances in breakaway attacks as the clocked ticked slowly down. But UCD checked them, as first full-back John Molloy cut out a cross from Rose that was intended for Hennessy when he was in a scoring position and later when goalkeeper Myers raced to the edge of his box to rob Rose as he raced clear.
UCD went into the match with an enviable record and there was a swagger to their first half football that suggested they were possessed of the better balanced team.
Burke was hugely influential all week for UCD and he was beginning to stamp his personality on the game when he was forced off in the 43rd minute after being injured in a tackle ten minutes earlier.
His ability to retain possession under pressure and capacity for making the telling pass were critical to UCD’s hopes.
UCC succeeded in quelling the growing influence of UCD in midfield and a goal after 40 minutes was all the encouragement they needed to hit their best form. It was a wonderful strike by Hennessy who volleyed the ball home from 25 yards after a corner from Ken Bruton had been knocked clear of the penalty area.
Another corner from Bruton in the 52nd minute yielded the winning goal. The ball escaped the clutches of a group of players and fell kindly for Alan Weldon to calmly shoot home from 12 yards.
It was significant that the two penalty decisions should have been awarded for tackles on Paul Rose for he showed unusual skill at centre-forward for UCC.
Yet this win owed as much to the depth of their resolution and the strength of their will as it did to their footballing ability. They came through the test in impressive style to mark the 50th anniversary of their football club with a victory to match any in their distinguished history.
UCC: B. O'Connell; J. O'Connell, D. Collins, R. Bambury, J. Herlihy; S. Hennessy, K. Bruton,. A. Weldon, P. Gleeson; K. Cannon (B. Leahy 54), P. Rose.
UCD: J. Myers; J. Molloy, D. O'Riain, N. Donnelly, E. Light; H. Davey, G. Whelan, K. Sharkey (B. Harrington 65), P. McWalter; P. Burke, O. Crean (R. Jones 72).
Referee: Mr. D. Deady (Cork).