Extra extra – UCD edge epic to reach decider
UU 1-13 UCD 0-18
UCD are through to the Sigerson Cup final for the third year in a row after an exhausting arm wrestle against University of Ulster.
It took 100 minutes and double extra time to separate two shattered teams in Inniskeen, before the 2016 champions scraped through thanks to scores by Brian O’Seanachain and Con O’Callaghan. They will face NUIG in Saturday’s final.
Tyrone’s Mark Bradley got the only goal in the second minute of the first bout of extra-time, after a superb pass by Lee Brennan, but UU only scored one point after that, with UCD finally nudging ahead at a critical stage.
County managers around the country won’t have been impressed by the mammoth effort expended all round.
After a boring first half of normal time which finished 0-3 each, the intensity and pace lifted for the remaining 70 minutes.
Monaghan’s Conor McCarthy lit up the final quarter of normal time with four points in the last 15 minutes to put UCD 0-12 to 0-10 ahead going into injury time.
However, Tyrone referee Sean Hurson played a very generous six minutes stoppage time and Lee Brennan’s free, followed by Gareth McKinless’ 66th-minute point, forced extra time when it finished level 0-12 each.
After Bradley’s goal, UCD took over. Evan O’Carroll was deadly from placed balls and with McCarthy continuing his scoring form they nudged in front in the second half of extra time.
For the second time, the Jordanstown outfit snatched a late point to force an extension in the game. Rory Brennan’s 81st-minute point tying the scores at 1-13 to 0-16 teeing up a further five minutes each side.
However, UU failed to score in either half of double extra time and O’Seanachain’s 86th-minute point, followed by O’Callaghan’s simple tap-over free, finally proved decisive.
The first half was a 30-minute yawn. UU were reluctant to commit bodies to the attack and when they did come out with the ball, frequently got turned over in possession.
Niall Madine, their only player inside the UCD ’45’ for most of the half, showed well and linked up with Mark Bradley who got on a lot of ball. But there was little end product.
Three times UCD took the lead and three times UU equalised.
Tipperary’s Liam Casey got the opening score for UCD in the third minute with a right-footed point which Tyrone’s Frank Burns – a late change in the starting team – cancelled out with a fine long-range effort three minutes later.
UCD hit four first-half wides and Laois’ Evan O’Carroll dropped a simple free short but made amends with a ’45’ soon after.
UU took the lead for the first time in the second minute of the second half through full-back Michael McKernan, who seconds earlier had blocked Jack Barry’s goal-bound shot at the other end.
Inside 11 minutes, UU streaked clear at 0-8 to 0-5 to put the first real daylight between the teams, with points from Rory Brennan, Niall Madine and Lee Brennan’s ’45’.
Liam Casey’s second point and O’Carroll’s free kept UCD in touch, and with Barry and O’Sullivan an increasing influence in midfield, they soon levelled matters with three frees in as many minutes from O’Carroll, O’Callaghan and McCarthy.
After a quiet opening half, McCarthy nailed 0-4, two from play, in the last quarter to give UCD the initiative again.
They led 0-12 to 0-10 going into extra time through sub Liam Silke’s point but, in a very generous six minutes of injury-time, Lee Brennan and Gareth McKinless snatched extra time, for the first time.
Scorers for UU – L Brennan 0-3 (1 ’45’, 1f), M Bradley 1-0, F Burns, R McNamee, R Brennan 0-2 each, T O’Brien 0-1 (f), N Madine, M McKernan, G McKinless 0-1 each,
Scorers for UCD – C McCarthy 0-6 (3f), E O’Carroll 0-5 (3f, 2 ’45’), L Casey 0-2, C O’Callaghan 0-2 (2f), E Lowry, 0-1 (f), L Silke, B O Seanachain 0-1 each
Ulster University: S Fox; M Magee, M McKernan, M McEvoy; R Brennan, R McNamee, G McKinless; T O’Brien, J Munroe; R McAnespie, M Bradley, E McHugh; L Brennan, N Madine, F Burns
Subs: D Mulgrew for Madine (55), D Gallagher for Burns (55), D Tallon for McAnespie (60), F Burns for McNamee (70), R McAnespie for McHugh (78)
UCD: C Manton; L Fortune, C O’Shea, P Healy; S Coen, C Mullaly, J Feehan; B O’Sullivan, J Barry; L Casey, C McCarthy, B Byrne; C O’Callaghan, E O’Carroll, E Lowry
Subs: B O Seanachain for Casey (40), T Hayes for Lowry (42), L Silke for Byrne (50), P O’Connor for Feehan (70), L Moran for O’Connor (77)
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)