Tally salutes Mary's saints and scholars
Independent.ie Sigerson Cup St Mary's 0-13 UCD 2-6
St Mary's manager Paddy Tally said it was a dream come true to guide a St Mary's side he has been involved with since 1999 to their second ever Sigerson Cup title.
The small college on the Fall's Road in Belfast - with just 850 students and less than a quarter of them male - defied the odds to shock holders UCD in a gripping final at the Connacht GAA headquarters at Bekan in Mayo.
"It's absolutely amazing. It's been a process over a number of years. We have been very, very close in a lot of quarter-final matches. I felt if we could get to the final weekend we would be hard to talk to.
"These boys are a credit, the way they played the game, the way they dug down very, very deep. A lot of teams would have packed it in with the start we had but they did this in the semi-final as well," said Tally, a reference to his side bouncing back from conceding two early goals in both the semi-final and final.
Tally, a former selector with Mickey Harte in Tyrone, is a PE lecturer in St Mary's and always believed they could add to their only previous crown in 1989, despite the vast resources available to the bigger colleges.
"You have to believe it, you would pack it in otherwise. Last year we were bitterly disappointed we were beaten in the quarter-final by Jordanstown.
"It's a wonderful thing this competition. It's unique that you would play two big championship matches two days running. Really it comes down to whoever has the bigger heart for it, the bigger desire and the greater resilience."
UCD, the most prolific winners and bidding for their 34th crown, got a glorious start against the stiff wind when Colm Basquel fired home two goals in the opening three minutes.
And with Dublin stars Mick Fitzsimons, Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion on board, that should have been enough for UCD to push on and retain their crown.
But St Mary's dug in to claw their way back and hit nine points in a row before Mannion finally hit the target to leave it 0-9 to 2-1 at the break, with Oisin O'Neill, Conall McCann and Conor Meyler kicking great scores.
UCD were wasteful against the wind, shooting eight wides after Cathal McShane crucially extended the Mary's lead four minutes after the restart.
Mary's were always able to respond to a UCD score and while the Dublin side cut the gap to the minimum they couldn't force extra-time.
"No one likes to lose any game, particularly finals but Mary's came with a fantastic game-plan and they executed it perfectly. They deserved their win," said UCD manager John Divilly.
"We had lots and lots of chances there in the second-half to draw level or go ahead and, ultimately, we did not take them."
Scorers - St Mary's: O O'Neill 0-4 (3f), K McGeary (f), C McCann & C McShane 0-2 each, C Meyler, C Corrigan & C Quinn 0-1 each. UCD: C Basquel 2-1, C McCarthy 0-2 (f), P Mannion, B McGinn & E Wallace 0-1 each.
St Mary's - M Reid; R Mooney, A McKay, K Mallon; C Byrne, C Mac Iomhar, C Meyler; C McCann, O O'Neill; C Corrigan, K McGeary, S McConville; K McKernan, M Fitzpatrick, C McShane. Subs: C Quinn for McConville (45), Hannigan for Mallon (63).
UCD - C Honan; M Fitzsimons, R McDaid, E Murchan; C Mullally, S Coen, J McCaffrey; B O'Sullivan, J Barry; C McCarthy, A McDonnell, E Wallace; P Mannion, C Basquel, B McGinn. Subs: L Casey for McDonnell (30), T Hayes for Mannion (56), L Moran for O'Sullivan (58, black).
ref - Conor Lane (Cork)