Friday 23 February 2018

DCU reach Sigerson Cup last four after dramatic win over 14-man St Marys

DCU 1-11 St Mary’s University College Belfast 0-11 (AET)

Referee Ciaran Brannigan shows Ryan Johnston, St Mary's College, a red card after a first half incident as Emmett Bradley, left, and Jerome Johnston look on.
Referee Ciaran Brannigan shows Ryan Johnston, St Mary's College, a red card after a first half incident as Emmett Bradley, left, and Jerome Johnston look on.

Cóilin Duffy

DCU pulled through in extra-time, after a cracking, tough and tense Sigerson Cup quarter-final against St Marys University College after extra-time at St Genevives in Belfast this afternoon.

The visitors never led in normal time, and indeed had the advantage of an extra man from the 29th minute, after a straight red card for St Mary’s Ryan Johnston, but kicked on in extra-time.

Unanswered points from goalkeeper Tadgh Lowe of Roscommon, Laois’s Colm Begley and Armagh’s Simon McCoy in the second period of extra-time helped Niall Moyna’s charges to a three-point win.

St Mary’s started this game brightly and led by 0-4 to 0-1 inside the opening 10 minutes, after a quartet of unanswered points to an early Conor McHugh score.

Aidan Forker (2), Thomas Canavan and Paddy McBride all contributed the hosts early scores, with St Mary’s looking more impressive.

Mary’s dominated play in the opening half, and pushed 0-8 to 0-3 ahead by the 28th minute, following a Jerome Johnston score, although they could have been further in front at this juncture.

Canavan and Ryan Johnston also had some missed chances, while the latter’s dismissal after an off the ball incident, following a scuffle with Diarmuid O’Connor left the hosts down to 14 men in the 29th minute.

DCU worked hard to add to their tally ahead of the break, but despite strong pressure they failed to score before half-time.

Sligo’s Niall Murphy was in accurate in front of the posts, while DCU were denied twice in quick succession close to the goal-line, with Mary’s keeper Rory Burns initially punching a Conor Moynagh effort out, and then Kevin McKernan was on hand to clear the ball to safety.

The half-time whistle sounded soon after, and after the break DCU introduced Wicklow’s Conor McGraynor and Donal Wrynn of Leitrim in a bid to strengthen their attack.

DCU were kept at bay for 10 minutes after the restart, as St Mary’s defended in packs and worked hard.

Forker claimed the first score of the half at the opposite end in the 40th minute to push his side 0-9 to 0-3 ahead, but DCU would hold Mary’s scoreless over the next 19 minutes, as they launched a firm comeback.

Moynagh and Wrynn bagged points, before Wrynn claimed the only goal of the game in the 44th minute.

The aforementioned duo combined as Leitrim man Wrynn palmed the ball to the net, to cut the deficit to a point.

Substitute Shane Carey from Monaghan levelled the tie at 1-6 to 0-9 with 12 minutes remaining, but defences suddenly got on top.

Mary’s launched a defensive strategy and cleaned up superbly, with some fine catches from the likes of Forker and Daniel McBride at the back, Emmett Bradley at midfield, and some strong defending also from Conor Clarke.

However, they struggled to execute their chances at the opposite end, and although Canavan slotted over a free, immediately after being reintroduced, Roscommon’s Donal Smith forced extra-time for DCU.

St Mary’s were back to 15 men for extra-time, with Neill McNicholl bringing them back to a full complement.

DCU keeper Tadgh Lowe pushed the visitors ahead with a pointed 45 in the 67th minute, but this was cancelled out by Canavan to ensure an 0-11 to 1-8 interval score-line.

DCU were strongest on the restart, as a trio of unanswered scores including Lowe’s second pointed 45’, and points from Begley and McCoy saw them through to the semi-final weekend.

DCU: Tadgh Lowe (0-2, 2 45); Jack Smith, Conor Boyle, Conor Daly; Dessie Ward, Conor Moynagh (0-1), Colm Begley (0-1); Tom Flynn, Steven O’Brien; Diarmuid O’Connor, Conor Meredith, Davey Byrne; Enda Smith, Niall Murphy, Conor McHugh (0-3, 2f). Subs: Rory Connor for Boyle (20); Conor McGraynor for D O’Connor (HT); Donal Wyrnn (1-1) for Murphy (HT); Donal Smith (0-1) for Ward (43); Shane Carey (0-1, 1f) for Meredith (45); Simon McCoy (0-1) for E Smith (55); Fintan Kelly for Flynn (64); Evin Keane for Byrne (77).

ST MARYS UNI COLLEGE: Rory Burns; Aaron Beattie, Conor Clarke, Harry Loughran; Paddy McBride (0-1), Aidan Forker (0-3, 1f), Ciaran McCooey; Daniel McBride, Emmett Bradley; Jerome Johnston (0-2), Ciaran McGeary, Ryan Johnston (0-1, 1 45); Kevin McKernan, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Thomas Canavan (0-4, 3f). Subs: James Morgan for Beattie (20); Neill McNicholl for Canavan (44); Conor McCann for Loughran (49); Barry O’Hagan for Fitzpatrick (59); Thomas Canavan for McNicholl. Neill McNicholl (Extra-man for extra-time).

REFEREE: Ciaran Branagan (Down)

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