University of Limerick will bid for their first ever Irish Universities Collingwood Cup win when they take on UCC in an all-Munster final at Limerick’s Market’s Field today (kick-off 2.30pm).
The Shannonsiders had to battle hard to make the decider, edging out an impressive Ulster University side with two second-half goals in a testing semi-final tie played in torrential rain at times at UL.
At the same venue, in similar conditions, holders UCD were denied a second successive Collingwood Cup victory when a Simon Falvey goal just before half time proved enough for 10-man UCC to claim the win.
UCC and UCD have a long-standing rivalry and have met on several occasions over the past couple of years, with the Cork side getting the better of UCD in the 2017 Collingwood final at Maynooth, but losing out to the Dubliners in the Colleges and Universities Premier League finals for the last two seasons.
UCD were forced to go into this competition without three regulars — goalkeeper Conor Kearns, defender Liam Scales, and winger Neil Farugia were all required by new Ireland U21 manager Stephen Kenny’s three-day training camp, which clashed with the annual Collingwood Cup tournament.
UCC looked the sharper side from the start and they created the better chances in the opening half. They had the ball in the UCD net twice, but both attempts were ruled out for earlier infringements.
Another let-off for UCD came when centre back Josh Collins found himself in the right position to head Ethan Hurley’s effort off the goal line as UCC threatened to finally go ahead.
Little was seen of the Belfield side as an attacking force with the Cork defenders keeping a tight rein on Yoyo Mahdy and Conor Davis, with only winger Jason McClelland testing UCC keeper David Coffey with a low drive.
The goal eventually arrived on 43 minutes via ‘route one’. Coffey launched a high clearance into the UCD half and a mix-up between goalkeeper Gavin Sheridan and Collins allowed Falvey to nip in, get a touch on the bouncing ball and steer it into the unguarded goal.
Sheridan did make amends after the resumption with a brilliant full-length save from Falvey, after the Cork attacker was put through by Garan Manley.
UCC were reduced to 10 men on the hour when Owen Collins picked up a second yellow card, but they kept their shape and defended in numbers, with centre back Rob Slevin outstanding, as they relied on a couple of counter attacks set up by some great work by Manley.
Matthew McKevitt went close when he got on the end of Manley’s through-pass, but his finish was off target.
Gary O’Neill and Timmy Molloy tried to get UCD back into the game, but the sparkle was missing and the holders bowed out.
In the second semi-final, Ed O’Dwyer and substitute Iliah Corcoran grabbed the two second-half goals against Ulster University to book UL’s place in today’s decider.
O’Dwyer scored the opener on 68 minutes in a goalmouth scramble following a corner. Jack O’Mahony was unlucky not to equalise shortly afterwards, but his effort came off the post and out over the end line.
Corcoran finally clinched the win for the home side in the closing minutes with a well-struck shot to keep UL’s dream of winning their first ever Collingwood Cup very much on track.