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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 22 March, 2019
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Sean O'Shea's haul of 0-7 helps UCC deliver first Sigerson Cup title since 2014

2017 champions St Mary’s fell by four points in Portlaoise.

UCC 0-16

St Mary’s 1-9

Kevin O’Brien reports from O’Moore Park

THE ELECTRIC IRELAND Sigerson Cup is heading back to UCC for the first time since 2014 after their talented attack did enough to overcome a defensive St Mary’s outfit tonight.

Kevin Flahive celebrates with his team Kevin Flahive celebrates with his team. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

2017 champions St Mary’s, who stunned pre-tournament favourites UCD in the semi-final, battled hard over the 60 minutes but UCC’s class eventually told. 

The Ranch trailed by four early in the second-half but were back on level terms by the 48th minute after a strong third quarter. St Mary’s had already lost Aaron Boyle to a red card by that stage and UCC outscored their opponents by 0-5 to 0-1 down the home straight to seal the victory.

The Belfast side defended in numbers but ultimately couldn’t contain a talented UCC forward line that saw Sean O’Shea contribute a seven-point haul. His fellow Kerryman Paudie Clifford was a menace from wing-forward and added a brace.

It was a remarkable achievement for a college the size of St Mary’s to reach their second final in three seasons. They played a tough brand of defensive, counter-attacking football, with Armagh midfielder Jarlath Og Burns and Derry forward Shane McGuigan their stand-out performers.

The win brings UCC level on 22 titles with NUIG and are 12 behind overall leaders UCD.

UCC’s attack had scored 15 goals in the three games before this game, but didn’t raise a green flag tonight. Breaking down this packed St Mary’s unit that held UCD scoreless for 38 minutes in the semi-final was a far more difficult task.

Aaron Boyle and Shane McGuigan with Conor Horgan. Brian Ó Beaglaoich takes on the St Mary's defence. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

O’Shea, joint top scorer in the Allianz Football League, kicked five vital frees for the Cork students that were critical against the mass defence in front of them.

St Mary’s set-up in their accustomary formation, which saw Cathair McKinney drop back as a sweeper in front of his full-back line. The Belfast teaching college regularly put 15 men behind the ball and assigned Ryan Mac Oscair as a man-marker on Kingdom star O’Shea.

UCC were intelligent in how they went about their business. With the wind at their backs in the first period and centre-back Brian Ó Beaglaoich breaking the line at pace, they worked scoring chances and drew four frees for O’Shea to convert.

Ryan Coleman’s 16th-minute goal for St Mary’s had more than a touch of fortune to it. His mis-hit point attempt was dropped into the net by Mark White, who was under pressure from the onrushing McGuigan.

Shane McGuigan celebrates scoring a point Shane McGuigan celebrates scoring a point in the second-half. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

That left St Mary’s one in front, but UCC led by three at the interval as O’Shea’s placed balls and a brace from corner-back Graham O’Sullivan pushed them 0-9 to 1-3 in front.

St Mary’s improved offensively after the break, aided by the breeze. Defenders Mac Oscair and Micheal Rooney broke forward for scores as the underdogs moved within a point by the 43rd minute. 

Then St Mary’s lost Boyle to a red card  – he was on a yellow when he received a black for pulling back on his man. A booming point from McGuigan brought them level with 12 minutes to play, but UCC were to finish the stronger.

A triple substitution from UCC boss Billy Morgan gave his team a much-needed spark in attack. They clipped over four successive scores, including one each from subs Garry Murphy and James Naughton to move four clear.

McGuigan landed a point but UCC defended well in the closing stages and another sub, Conal O’Hainifin, added the insurance score in stoppage-time.

Scorers for UCC: Sean O’Shea 0-7 (0-5f), Paudie Clifford and Graham O’Sullivan 0-2 each, Padraig Lucey, Cian Kiely, Garry Murphy, James Naughton and Conal O’Hainifin 0-1 each.

Scorers for St Mary’s: Shane McGuigan 0-4 (0-1f), Ryan Coleman 1-0, Stephen McConville 0-3 (0-3f) Micheal Rooney and Ryan MacOscair 0-1 each. 

UCC

16. Mark White (Clonakilty, Cork)

22. Michael Flood (St Bridgets, Meath)
3. Kevin Flahive (Douglas, Cork)
4. Graham O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses, Kerry)

6. Daniel O’Brien (Glenfesk, Kerry)
17. Brian Ó Beaglaoich (An Gaeltacht, Kerry)
7. Cian Kiely (Ballincollig, Cork)

8. Padraig Lucey (Killarney Legion, Kerry)
9. Jack Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials, Tipperary)

10. Padraig Clifford (Fossa, Kerry)
11. Sean O’Shea (Kenmare Shamrocks, Kerry)
12. Conor Horgan (Nemo Rangers, Cork)

20. Conor Geaney (Dingle, Kerry)
14. Killian Spillane (Templenoe, Kerry)
15. Eimhin Courtney (Eire Og Ennis, Clare) 

Subs:

21. David Shaw (Dr Crokes, Kerry) for Horgan (ht) 
25. James Naughton (St Senan’s, Limerick) for Courtney (52)
26. Eoin Finnerty (Mountbellew, Galway) for Spillane (52)
13. Garry Murphy (Castletownbere, Cork) for Geaney (52)
23. Conal O’Hainifin (Eire Og Ennis, Clare) for O’Brien (60)

St Mary’s

1. Mark Reid (Down)

2. Liam Rafferty (Tyrone)
3. Caolan Dillon (Armagh)
4. Micheal Rooney (Down)

15. Cathair McKinney (Armagh) 

5. Colm Byrne (Tyrone)
6. Ryan Mac Oscair (Tyrone)
7. Aaron Duffy (Armagh)

8. Jarleth Og Burns (Armagh)
9. Liam Devlin (Down)

10. Stephen McConville (Down)
11. Shane McGuigan (Derry)
12. Aaron Boyle (Armagh)

13. Niall Toner (Derry)
14. Ryan Coleman (Tyrone)

Subs: 

23. Daniel McKinless (Ballinderry Shamrocks, Derry)

Referee: David Gough (Meath)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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