John Heslin the hero as UCD march on
University College Dublin (U.C.D.) 0-15 Athlone Institute of Technology (A.I.T) 0-7
In a repeat of last year's fortunes, John Heslin's reliable point-taking helped University College Dublin (UCD) to a first round-victory at the expense of Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) in the Independent.ie Sigerson Cup in Belfield today.
Last year the Westmeath native landed 0-7 when UCD defeated the midlanders by four points in their first-round clash and Tuesday's meeting signalled more of the same as the home-side breezed past AIT.
UCD's win atones for their last outing against Kildare in the O'Byrne Cup, when the Lilywhites dashed their confidence garnered from wins against Carlow and Louth and disposed of them with 17 points to spare.
With promising inter-county players sprinkled across their panel, UCD dominated the game from the offing. As plenty of attackers filtered back to avert any challenge from AIT's well-built forwards, they kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Stephen Flynn, Kieran Martin and Colin O'Brien all had challenges closed down due to the work of John Divilly-managed side, whose full-back line of Ryan Wylie, Davey Byrne and Martin O'Cathláin was particularly durable.
They held their opponents scoreless for the opening quarter and in the interim landed five-points in all. While Ger Egan's pointed free kicked AIT back in gear, little more came from the visitors as Heslin (two frees) and Ryan Basquel created an 0-8 to 0-1 half-time lead for UCD.
Although they had lost the aid of a light wind, UCD restarted with tremendous vigour as impressive Dublin poacher Jack McCaffrey completed a pair of incisive bursts into the AIT defence, one of which earned a point.
After Meath half-back Paraic Harnan chipped in, Dan Queeney struck back with a royal score to cut AIT's gap down to eight points on 37 minutes. As the AIT defence began to take on a more formidable shape, their attack rallied back. In spite of a trio of John Heslin white-flags for UCD, Ger Egan and Kieran Martin continued to carve into their deficit, which was reduced to seven points with five minutes remaining (0-14 to 0-7).
AIT could not find a late score as they kicked three late wides while Heslin rounded off his tally of eight points to put U.C.D. into a quarter-final tie against GMIT, who defeated 2013 champions DIT in their first-round pairing.
UCD - John Heslin (0-8, 4 frees), Ryan Basquel, Jack McCaffrey (0-2 each), Seán O'Dea, Paraic Harnan, Brian Fenton (0-1 each).
AIT - Ger Egan (0-4, 3 frees), Dan Queeney, Kieran Martin, Michael Day (0-1 each).
UCD - Eoghan Keogh, Ryan Wylie, Davey Byrne, Martin O'Cathaláin, Paraic Harnan, Conor Mullally, Seán O'Dea, Matthew O'Hanlon, Jack Barry, Brian Fenton, Niall Kelly, Jack McCaffrey (capt.), Ryan Basquel, John Heslin, Eoghan Nolan. Subs: Robert Carr for Jack Barry; Ciarán Lenehan for Eoghan Nolan; Conor Sheridan for Brian Fenton; Patrick Reilly for Niall Kelly; Eoin Lowery for Ryan Basquel.
AIT - Mark Langtry, Eoin Kerins, Stephen Flynn, Darren Farley, James Dolan, Kieran Martin, Jack Donoghue, Michael Day, Colm O'Brien, Alan Coffey, Ger Egan (capt.), David Whelan, Cillian Fitzgerald, Dan Queeney, Kieran Kilcline. Subs: Dan Wharton for David Whelan; Anton Sullivan for Colm O'Brien; Jack Wharton for Cillian Fitzgerald.
Referee - John Hickey (Carlow).
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