Tuesday 26 September 2017

Conor McGraynor snatches Sigerson for DCU at death

DCU1-14 UCC2-10 (After extra-time) Independent.ie Sigerson Cup final

Donal Wrynn, DCU, centre, scores his side's first goal despite the efforts of UCC's Alan O'Donovan and goalkeeper Michael Martin
Donal Wrynn, DCU, centre, scores his side's first goal despite the efforts of UCC's Alan O'Donovan and goalkeeper Michael Martin
Conor McGraynor, DCU, in action against Padraig O'Connor, UCC
Luke Connolly, UCC, is shown a yellow card by referee Eddie Kinsella

Denis Hurley

Conor McGraynor's point in the final minute of extra-time gave DCU a third Sigerson Cup title in six years as they denied UCC at the Mardyke yesterday.

Having led by two points at half-time in the additional 20 minutes, DCU fell behind to a David Culhane goal after the restart but, as so often in this campaign, they dug deep into their reserves to seize victory.

In normal time, the game had ebbed and flowed, though in a disjointed manner as neither side reached the heights that they were capable of. The opening exchanges of the first half saw the sides match each other point-for-point, and the game was tied at 0-3 each at the end of the first quarter.

While UCC included the fit-again Paul Geaney, it was his fellow Kerryman Conor Cox who shone brightest in attack, while captain Tomás Clancy also had a nice point.

Conor McHugh was the stand-out DCU forward, scoring two of their early points, though Donal Wrynn shot over when a goal was on, while UCC goalkeeper Micheál Martin also had to punch Enda Smith's delivery away with Wrynn loitering.

Geaney often dropped deep as UCC defended stoutly and prevented DCU making headway during the middle period of the half. Two Cox points were all that they could muster themselves, though they were denied a goal as Seán Kiely was penalised for a foul on goalkeeper Tadhg Lowe as he bundled the ball into the net.

DCU did finish the first half well, however, and managed to level the game by half-time as Enda Smith and Eoin O'Connor were both on target. Indeed, they might well have led as Diarmuid O'Connor found Donal Wrynn with a lovely pass but from a tight angle his goal attempt found the side-netting.

At 0-5 each on the changeover, it was anybody's game, but the knowledge of what was at stake seemed inhibiting as each side wasted chances to make a further impact on the scoreboard. The first 10 minutes after the resumption only brought points from Enda Smith and UCC sub Alan O'Donovan, but in the 41st minute came the first significant breakthrough as DCU got a goal.

Donal Smith, brother of Enda, sent over a good delivery from the left-hand side and Wrynn rose highest to beat Martin and palm the ball over the line, with Enda Smith making sure of the goal.

UCC produced an immediate response as Geaney played in David Harrington, but Lowe stood up well to his shot at the expense of a '45, which Luke Connolly sent over.

Gary O'Sullivan added another for the hosts to leave just a point in it, but when Conor Boyle responded for DCU on 57, it looked as though the game was theirs as they led by 1-7 to 0-8.

UCC didn't panic and they got their reward when O'Donovan got on the end of a Connolly ball to flick past Lowe. It looked to be the winner, but there was still time for the DCU goalkeeper to send the game to extra-time as he landed a monster free.

From there, it was nip and tuck again before McGraynor had the final say.

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