Sunday 18 February 2018

Con O'Callaghan returns as UCD outlast University of Ulster in marathon match to reach Sigerson final

UCD 0-18 University of Ulster 1-13 AET

14 February 2018; Con OCallaghan of University College Dublin, right, in action against Michael McKernan of Ulster University during the Electric Ireland HE GAA Sigerson Cup Semi-Final match between Ulster University and University College Dublin at Grattan Park in Inniskeen, Monaghan. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
14 February 2018; Con OCallaghan of University College Dublin, right, in action against Michael McKernan of Ulster University during the Electric Ireland HE GAA Sigerson Cup Semi-Final match between Ulster University and University College Dublin at Grattan Park in Inniskeen, Monaghan. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

It took 100 minutes to separate two shattered teams, and in the end scores by Brian O’Seanachain and Con O’Callaghan in the second period of double extra-time booked UCD’s place in the Sigerson Cup final for the third year in-a-row.

Monaghan’s Conor McCarthy lit up the final quarter of normal time with four points in the last 15 minutes to put UCD 0-12 to 0-10 ahead going into injury-time.

However, Tyrone referee Sean Hurson played a very generous six minutes of  stoppage time and Lee Brennan’s free, followed by Gareth McKinless’ 66th-minute point, forced extra-time when it finished level 0-12 each.

Tyrone’s Mark Bradley scored the only goal of the game two minutes into extra-time, with a close-range finish from Lee Brennan’s superb pass.

However, UCD took over with Evan O’Carroll deadly from placed balls and McCarthy continuing his scoring form and they nudged in front in the second half of extra-time.

For the second time, the Jordanstown outfit snatched a late point to force an extension in the game, Rory Brennan’s 81st-minute point tying the scores at 1-13 to 0-16 and teeing up a further five minutes each side.

O’Seanachain’s 86th-minute point, followed by O’Callaghan’s simple tap-over free, finally proved decisive.

The first half was a 30-minute yawn, UU reluctant to commit bodies to the attack and when they did come out with the ball, they frequently got turned over.

Three times UCD took the lead and three times UU equalised.

Tipperary’s Liam Casey got the opening score for UCD in the third minute with a right-footed point which Tyrone’s Frank Burns cancelled out with a fine long-range effort three minutes later.

UCD hit four first-half wides and Laois’ Evan O’Carroll dropped a simple free short but made amends with a ‘45’ soon after.

Derry’s Terence O’Brien, not renowned for his dead-ball striking, converted a fine effort off the ground to leave it 0-3 each at half-time.

The intensity and pace of the game was upped significantly after the break.

UU took the lead for the first time in the second minute through full-back Michael McKernan.

Inside 11 minutes, UU streaked clear at 0-8 to 0-5 to put the first real daylight between the teams with points from Rory Brennan, Niall Madine and Lee Brennan’s ‘45’.

Liam Casey’s second point and O’Carroll’s free kept UCD in touch and they soon levelled matters with three frees in as many minutes from O’Carroll, O’Callaghan and McCarthy.

After a quiet opening half, McCarthy nailed 0-4, two from play, in the last quarter to give UCD the initiative again.

They led 0-12 to 0-10 going into extra-time through sub Liam Silke’s point but in a very generous six minutes of injury-time, Lee Brennan and Gareth McKinless snatched extra-time.

Scorers – UCD: C McCarthy 0-6 (3f), E O’Carroll 0-5 (3f, 2 ‘45’), L Casey 0-2, C O’Callaghan 0-2 (2f), E Lowry, 0-1 (f), L Silke, B O Seanachain 0-1 each UU: L Brennan 0-3 (1 ‘45’, 1f), M Bradley 1-0, F Burns, R McNamee, R Brennan 0-2 each, T O’Brien 0-1 (f), N Madine, M McKernan, G McKinless 0-1 each,

UCD – C Manton; L Fortune, C O’Shea, P Healy; S Coen, C Mullaly, J Feehan; B O’Sullivan, J Barry; L Casey, C McCarthy, B Byrne; C O’Callaghan, E O’Carroll, E Lowry. Subs: B O Seanachain for Casey (40), T Hayes for Lowry (42), L Silke for Byrne (50), P O’Connor for Feehan (70), L Moran for O’Connor (77)

Ulster University – S Fox; M Magee, M McKernan, M McEvoy; R Brennan, R McNamee, G McKinless; T O’Brien, J Munroe; R McAnespie, M Bradley, E McHugh; L Brennan, N Madine, F Burns. Subs: D Mulgrew for Madine (55), D Gallagher for Burns (55), D Tallon for McAnespie (60), F Burns for McNamee (70), R McAnespie for McHugh (78).

REF – Sean Hurson (Tyrone).

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