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Roche shows steel to see DCU students to O'Byrne victory

DCU warmed up for Friday's Sigerson Cup semi-final with Maynooth by avenging last year's O'Byrne Cup final defeat to Louth to claim the title for the first time at Dowdall's Hill yesterday. The win - 1-15 to 0-17 - wasn't without controversy however, after referee Joe Curley blew for full-time after Louth 'keeper Neil Gallagher's kick out following Shane Roche's match-winning point.

Under the new rules governing early season intercounty competitions, the match continues until the ball goes out of play but Curley whistled for the end of the match despite the fact that Gallagher's kick found a DCU player in midfield.

Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick remonstrated with the Meath official after the match but the result stood and with it, Louth surrendered their crown.

DCU made 12 changes to the team which ousted champions CIT from the Sigerson Cup at the quarter-final juncture last Wednesday but still managed to field a starting 15 boasting massive intercounty experience. Bryan Cullen, Philly McMahon and Hugh Gill took their place in the college's defence while Kevin Nolan and Paddy Andrews were both introduced by the 40th minute.

However, it was Wexford man Roche who had the most influential contribution. A blast of eight points from Louth left them 0-17 to 1-11 ahead entering the closing stages but Roche held his nerve to nail four consecutive late frees - the last, deep into injury-time - to pull off the win for DCU.

DUBLIN will face Louth in the Leinster U21 FC quarter-final on Saturday March 6 after they outclassed Wexford, 4-16 to 0-8, yesterday. Jim McEneaney, son of former Wee county manager Eamon, bagged 2-2 from centre-forward as Louth ran rampant despite conceding the opening two points. Westmeath ousted Kildare, 1-6 to 0-6, to set up a last eight clash with Meath while Wicklow will face Laois after they beat Longford 3-13 to 0-10.


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