Wednesday 13 December 2017

Byrne has last word in stirring DCU show


DCU's Gary Kelly celebrates after team-mate David Byrne, left, scored their side's winning point against Dublin at Parnell Park
DCU's Gary Kelly celebrates after team-mate David Byrne, left, scored their side's winning point against Dublin at Parnell Park
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

DUBLIN were second best against a determined DCU outfit, who drained themselves of every ounce of energy and got their reward by dumping Jim Gavin's team out at Parnell Park.

Considering the chilly temperatures, a strong wind which blew down the pitch from the Killester end, and rain that made the pitch heavy and sticky, the players of both teams deserve credit for putting on an entertaining spectacle for the supporters.

The majority were Dublin fans, and most could rationalise the defeat without too much sadness. One young fan wistfully commented, "bye-bye O'Byrne Cup", before adding, "DC Pooh!"

Maybe Jim Gavin was thinking likewise, but he took a typically pragmatic view afterwards.

"It is always disappointing to lose a game, but in terms of a workout it was excellent," he said.

"Both teams will have learned a lot from it. DCU are a very well conditioned team, very well coached. They justified the win in the wind. We gave guys opportunities there the last few weekends. It's about playing a pre-season tournament and getting a good physical workout as well, so to that end all objectives were achieved.

"We have games ourselves, and we have a standby plan, as you always do, so we will implement that. There is great competition in the squad, so we'll use those internal games to our benefit."

He fielded a decent side with a backbone of All-Ireland winners such as Rory O'Carroll, Mick Fitzsimons, Bryan Cullen, Philly McMahon and Kevin McManamon, and gave younger guys including Eric Lowndes, Paul Hudson and Cormac Costello a run.

McMahon started the match a little too eager for referee David Gough's liking, and inside two minutes he had received a yellow card after a goalmouth scramble in the DCU area.

Dublin hit the DCU woodwork three times in the first half, but still managed to reach half-time with 0-6 on the board, all scored by their full-forward line.

The lively McManamon got two from play, and corner-forwards Hudson (one free) and Costello (one free) notched up two each.

DCU -- with Davy Byrne, Eoin O'Connor, Conor McHugh, Michael Quinn and Conor McGraynor particularly prominent -- battled hard, and McGraynor came up trumps with a morale-boosting goal in the seventh minute.

The big Wicklow man latched on to a long pass by Fionn O'Shea to beat O'Carroll and powerfully slam the ball past goalie Sean Currie from 20 metres.

McHugh from a free, Byrne and McGraynor got DCU's other scores of the half, and the sides were level at the break, 0-6 to 1-3. Dublin faced into the strong breeze in the second half, but they cut swathes through the DCU defence to get to 0-12 by the 44th minute.

Shane Carthy's score from a '45', even though he slipped when taking it, was the pick of those Dublin points, and DCU looked shell-shocked.

It looked like it was Dublin's day, but two crucial goals -- ironically by Dubliners Byrne and Micheal McCarthy -- switched the momentum back to the college boys.

Byrne's 43rd-minute goal came against the run of play, but that didn't matter to DCU.

The Ballymun Kickhams player's long-range shot was wind-assisted as it sailed all the way into the net. Still, where was the problem? By the 52nd minute, Dublin had reached a tally of 0-15, while DCU were stuck on 2-3.

And then, the madness, some of it glorious, began to unfold over the closing 12 minutes.

DCU sub Scott Oates came on after 58 minutes and almost immediately scored from a free. On 61 minutes, Dublin's O'Carroll received a black card, and was replaced by Niall McGovern.

At the other end, another DCU sub, Gary Kelly, clipped over a point in the 62nd minute. Just a minute later yet another replacement, Tom Flynn of Galway, provided the opening for McCarthy to slot in goal number three for the students.

Just one point between them, and seven minutes left. Was it any wonder the exchanges got somewhat heated?

Lowndes saw yellow for Dublin; McCarthy of DCU was booked, and his team-mate Tom Flynn also got a yellow card.

Sensationally, Paul Flynn was given a straight red with three minutes left for play. It was unclear what he did, but it was enough for the ref to take serious action. In the midst of it all, Dublin sub Daniel Watson kicked over a fine point to leave his side a point ahead on 0-16 to 3-6 with four minutes of normal time left.

Who wanted it more? The answer was DCU as the game went into added time. First, Kelly plundered a score, and then Byrne, with a super connection, curled the ball over the bar off the outside of his right boot to win it for his team and set up a semi-final against Meath at Navan next Sunday.

DCU coach Mick Bohan was delighted with the performance. "It was competitive. From our perspective it's about trying to build a squad for the Sigerson Cup. This is a stepping stone, but these days are morale-building days," said Bohan.

"We've got Meath in Navan, and this is exactly what we want.

"Since I've been involved, we've won two Sigersons and two O'Byrne Cups, and there's no coincidence that the years we've won the Sigerson, we've done well in the O'Byrne Cup, so we've certainly used it as a building block for the Sigerson competition."

Scorers -- DCU: D Byrne 1-2, C McGraynor 1-1, M McCarthy 1-0, G Kelly 0-3 (2fs), C McHugh (f), S Oates (f) 0-1 each Dublin: C Costello (2fs), P Hudson 0-5 each, K McManamon 0-2, J Whelan, S Carthy ('45'), E Fanning, D Watson 0-1 each.

DCU -- J Farrelly; W Lowry, C Dunleavy, C Cafferky; E Murray, D Byrne, P Dooney; E O'Connor, B Donnelly; F O'Shea, M Quinn, P Fox; C McHugh, C McGraynor, D Wrynn. Subs: C Ward for F O'Shea (h-t), T Flynn for W Lowry (45), F Kelly for E Murray (47), G Kelly for P Fox (51), S Oates for C McHugh (58), M McCarthy for B Donnelly (61)

Dublin -- S Currie; S George, R O'Carroll, M Fitzsimons; E Lowndes, B Cullen, D Daly; D O'Mahony, S Carthy; H Dawson, P McMahon, J Whelan; P Hudson, K McManamon, C Costello.

Subs: E Fanning for H Dawson (h-t), D Watson for K McManamon (48), K Nolan for M Fitzsimons (51), P Flynn for S Carthy (53), C Walsh for D O'Mahony (53), N McGovern for R O'Carroll (61, BC)

Ref -- D Gough (Meath)

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