UCD FINALLY WIPED away two decades of Sigerson Cup hurt as they were crowned champions when they saw off the title holders DCU in this afternoon’s final in Belfast.
DCU entered the game on the back of seeing off hosts Jordanstown yesterday but they misfired in the final as UCD largely bossed this game.
It still took UCD a long time to put their opponents to the sword and they were grateful to the outstanding play of man-of-the-match John Heslin as he shot 0-6.
There was added poignancy to UCD’s victory following the death last April of the Belfield outfit’s long-serving GAA officer Dave Billings.
They were fully deserving victors today in what was UCD’s first appearance in a final since 2003. Former Galway All-Ireland winner John Divilly was part of the UCD team that last won the competition in 1996 and today tasted success as a manager.
UCD overcame the loss of key forwards Paul Mannion (injury) and Niall Kelly (black card) during the first-half. They were boosted by the pre-match availability of 2015 Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey who had limped off with an injury during yesterday’s comfortable semi-final success over UL.
Scores were hard to come by in the opening period due to the heavy underfoot conditions but UCD adapted best. Heslin (2), Mannion and Conor McCarthy were on target and with Stephen Attride’s point the only score that DCU could muster, it was 0-4 to 0-1 in favour of UCD approaching half-time.
Then DCU made a timely burst with Roscommon’s Enda Smith and Tipperary’s Steven O’Brien combining for the latter to net from close range. A pointed free from Shane Carey left DCU in the unlikely position of being in the ascendancy at the interval as they held a 1-2 to 0-4 lead.
UCD steadied themselves after the break with Heslin whipping over three points in succession and the lively McCarthy splitting the posts again to see them in front 0-8 to 1-2 entering the final quarter.
DCU were struggling to make an impact but they refused to wilt. In the 51st minute substitute Conor McHugh made ground on the left flank and fired across a ball that was gathered by Conor McGraynor before he was fouled.
Cavan’s Conor Moynagh came forward from centre-back to take the resultant penalty and he showed superb composure to send goalkeeper Eoghan Keogh the wrong way.
UCD had suffered defeat to DCU in last year’s semi-final as a result of conceding late scores but this time they didn’t let that setback deter them.
DCU failed to add to their tally again and Heslin hooked over a sublime point off his left with four minutes remaining to restore UCD’s lead.
In the closing stages DCU fought desperately to send the game to extra-time but UCD’s defence was resolute and substitute Stephen Coen from Mayo popped up with the insurance point to seal their triumph.
Scorers for UCD: John Heslin 0-6 (0-4f), Conor McCarthy 0-2, Stephen Coen, Paul Mannion (0-1f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for DCU: Steven O’Brien, Conor Moynagh (1-0 pen) 1-0 each, Stephen Attride, Shane Carey (0-1f) 0-1 each.
Eoghan Keogh (Mountmellick, Laois)
Ryan Wylie (Ballybay, Monaghan)
David Hyland (Athy, Kildare)
David Byrne (Naomh Olaf, Dublin)
Conor Mullaly (Cuala, Dublin)
Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala, Dublin)
Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf, Dublin)
Liam Casey (Cahir, Tipperary)
Robert McDaid (Ballyboden St-Enda’s, Dublin)
Conor McCarthy (Scotstown, Monaghan)
John Heslin (St Loman’s Mullingar, Westmeath)
Colm Basquel (Ballyboden St-Enda’s, Dublin)
Eoin Lowry (Killeshin, Laois)
Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin)
Niall Kelly (Athy, Kildare)
Tom Hayes (Cootehill, Cavan) for Mannion (inj) (17)
James McEntee (Curraha, Meath) for Kelly (black card) (29)
Stephen Coen (Hollymount-Carramore) for McEntee (43)
Jack Barry (Na Gaeil, Kerry) for Lowry (53)
Seán O’Dea (Kilteely-Dromkeen, Limerick) for McCaffrey (57)
Tommy Moolick (Leixlip, Kildare) for Casey (58)
Philip O’Donnell (Glenswilly, Donegal)
Killian Daly (Mullingar Shamrocks, Westmeath)
Jack Smith (Skerries Harps, Dublin)
Kevin Feely (Athy, Kildare)
Stephen Attride (Killeshin, Laois)
Conor Moynagh (Drumgoon, Cavan)
Davy Byrne (Ballymun Kickhams, Dublin)
Steven O’Brien (Ballina, Tipperary)
Michael Quinn (Killoe, Longford)
Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber, Mayo)
Enda Smith (Boyle, Roscommon)
Colm Begley (Parnells, Laois)
Rory Connor (Kenagh, Longford)
Ryan Lyons (Erne Gaels, Fermanagh)
Shane Carey (Scotstown, Monaghan)
Shane Carthy (Naomh Mearnóg, Dublin) for Quinn (half-time)
Conor McGraynor (Avondale, Wicklow) for Connor (half-time)
Dessie Ward (Ballybay, Monaghan) for Daly (44)
Conor McHugh (Na Fianna, Dublin) for Carey (47)
Cian Breheny (St Mary’s, Sligo) for Lyons (47)
Conor McNally (Derrynose, Armagh) for Smith (59)
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)
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