NUI Galway 2-9
Kevin O’Brien reports from Santry Avenue, Dublin
TIPPERARY FORWARD LIAM Casey scored the final two points of the game as UCD were crowned Sigerson Cup champions for the second time in three years.
Second-half goals from Sean Kelly and Adam Gallagher left underdogs NUI Galway leading by 2-8 to 1-9 heading into the final 10 minutes, but UCD were the more composed side down the home straight.
Man-of-the-match Conor McCarthy and Con O’Callaghan kicked a score apiece, before Casey fired over an equaliser and then fisted the winner when this contest seemed destined for extra-time.
McCarthy finished with an impressive tally of 1-6 for UCD and, while O’Callaghan was well-marshalled by Sligo defender Kevin McDonald for most of the opening 50 minutes, he stepped up when the game was in the melting pot late on.
UCD started with just six players who featured in last year’s shock final defeat to St Mary’s – Conor Mullally, Stephen Coen, Barry O’Sullivan, Jack Barry, McCarthy and Casey.
Dublin pair Eoin Murchan and Jack McCaffrey would have also been included in John Divilly’s defence had it not been for injury.
Appearing in their first Sigerson final in 15 years, NUIG employed former Galway U21 star Sean Kelly as a sweeper in the opening half.
That left Dublin native Conor Mullally as a spare defender to cover in front of dangerman Damien Comer, but the Galway powerhouse had 0-3 on the board by the interval and won a handful of frees that were converted.
The sides were locked at 1-5 to 0-8 at the interval, with McCarthy’s brilliant goal from 13m the highlight of the opening half.
Peter Cooke was dominant at midfield for NUIG, but they scored just twice in the 25 minutes after half-time. Fortunately, both of those scores were goals. Kelly’s 38th minute goal arrived after UCD keeper Charlie Manton fumbled a Comer point attempt that dropped short.
Kieran Molloy, who raced from Corofin’s game in Tullamore to join the action as a second-half sub, started a move that saw Adam Gallagher dispatch NUIG’s second three-pointer.
In the meantime, UCD were happy to take their scores as NUIG dropped bodies back and looked to play on the counter-attack. With the sides deadlocked in the final minutes, Casey kicked one score and fisted another to seal the victory for the Belfield boys.
Scorers for UCD – Conor McCarthy 1-6 (0-3f), Liam Casey 0-3, Brian Byrne, Evan O’Carroll, Eoin Lowry and Con O’Callaghan 0-1 each.
Scorers for NUI Galway – Adam Gallagher 1-3 (0-3f), Damien Comer 0-3, Sean Kelly 1-0, Enda Tierney 0-3 (0-1f).
1. Charlie Manton (Fethard, Tipperary)
4. Conor Mullally (Cuala, Dublin)
3. Cillian O’Shea (Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin)
22. Peter Healy (St Enda’s, Antrim)
2. Luke Fortune (Cavan Gaels, Cavan)
7. Jimmy Feehan (Killenaule, Tipperary)
6. Stephen Coen (Hollymount-Carramore, Mayo)
8. Barry O’Sullivan (Dingle, Kerry)
9. Jack Barry (Na Gaeil, Kerry)
10. Liam Casey (Cahir, Tipperary)
11. Conor McCarthy (Scotstown, Monaghan)
13. Brian Byrne (Naas, Kildare)
20. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala, Dublin)
14. Evan O’Carroll (Crettyard, Laois)
15. Eoin Lowry (Killeshin, Laois)
25. Brian O Seanachain (Ballydonoghue, Kerry) for Fortune (ht)
26. Tom Hayes (Cootehill, Cavan) for O’Carroll (58)
1. Tadgh O’Malley (Leitir Mór, Galway)
2. Stephen Brennan (Claremorris, Mayo)
3. Seán Mulkerrin (Oileán Árainn, Galway)
34. Kevin McDonnell (Castleconnor, Sligo)
7. Gerard O’Kelly Lynch (St Mary’s, Sligo)
6. Ruairí Greene (Killannin, Galway)
17. Colm Kelly (Ballyshannon, Donegal)
8. Céin D’Arcy (Caherlistrane, Galway)
9. Peter Cooke (Maigh Cuilinn, Galway)
10. Adam Gallagher (Mayo Gaels, Mayo)
11. Owen Gallagher (St Joseph’s, Glenavy, Antrim)
12. Enda Tierney (Oughterard, Galway)
13. Brian Donovan (Monaleen, Limerick)
14. Damien Comer (Annaghdown, Galway)
15. Seán Kelly (Maigh Cuilinn, Galway)
25. Ronan O’Toole (St Loman’s, Westmeath) for Kelly (ht)
5. Kieran Molloy (Corofin, Galway) for Greene (39)
27. Eoin Finnerty (Mountbellew Moylough, Galway) for Gallagher (43)
24. Ryan Forde (Annaghdown, Galway) for Donovan (46)
19. Nathan Mullen (Mullinabreena, Sligo) for D’Arcy (58)