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Mannion relief as UCD edge thrilling derby over DCU

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Paul Mannion, University College Dublin, in action against Jack Smith, Dublin City University

Paul Mannion, University College Dublin, in action against Jack Smith, Dublin City University

SPORTSFILE

Pete Dooney, Dublin City University, in action against Paul Mannion, University College Dublin

Pete Dooney, Dublin City University, in action against Paul Mannion, University College Dublin

SPORTSFILE

Conor McGraynor, Dublin City University, celebrates after scoring a goal for his side

Conor McGraynor, Dublin City University, celebrates after scoring a goal for his side

SPORTSFILE

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Paul Mannion, University College Dublin, in action against Jack Smith, Dublin City University

UNIVERSITY College Dublin earned a semi-final date with UUJ after edging a titanic duel against city rivals DCU at Belfield.

Dublin aces Paul Mannion and Jack McCaffrey were prominent as UCD, winners of this competition 32 times, advanced to finals weekend for the first time since 2011.

With DCU being the leading light in the competition in recent years, victory was sweet for their city rivals who haven't won the title since 1996.

The home side – managed by former Galway All-Ireland winner John Divilly – were made to dig deep and they had to stage some desperate defending late on as DCU launched a spirited second half revival.

Mannion kicked 0-5, including four from play, while McCaffrey netted a trademark early goal as UCD kept alive their hopes of reclaiming the holy grail of third-level football.

At half-time, UCD were 2-9 to 1-1 clear but they had to withstand a fierce second-half onslaught from a DCU side playing with the wind.

Mannion, a goalscorer for Dublin in last year's All-Ireland semi-final victory over Kerry, said: "Speaking at half-time, we knew it was going to become more of a running game, with very few balls into the forward line.

"It was just a matter of making the most of that and when we did get our chances, that we take them. I think we managed to do that."

RELISHING

And Mannion is now relishing the prospect of a semi-final clash with Jordanstown in Belfast. UCD netted from their very first attack as another Dubliner, Ryan Basquel, slotted home from close range.

A minute later, McCaffrey steamed forward for a well-taken goal and UCD were 2-2 to 0-0 in front before Craig Dunleavy responded with a seventh-minute goal for DCU.

But UCD recovered to establish an 11-point lead before DCU launched a revival that had them level in the second half.

After half-time, three-time winners DCU, who won last year's corresponding Dublin derby by 10 points, outscored the winners by 2-9 to 1-2. Conor McGraynor's 35th-minute goal sparked the revival and when Dublin's Conor McHugh netted in the 47th minute, the gap was down to just a point, 3-6 to 2-10.

Fintan Kelly surged forward to level proceedings but Mark Hughes bagged a crucial UCD goal 11 minutes from time and that handed the winners a platform they would not relinquish.

With the last play of the game, McGraynor had an outside chance of a winning goal but, as a host of UCD players stood on the line, the forward's drive was deflected over the crossbar.

Mannion added: "It's my first Sigerson I've ever played in – very lucky to be into the weekend. It's been a while since UCD have been there so hopefully now we can put in a performance."

SCORERS – UCD: P Mannion 0-5 (1f), M Hughes 1-2, R Basquel 1-1, J McCaffrey 1-0, J Maloney 0-2, C Lenehan 0-1. DCU: C McHugh 1-3 (0-2fs), C McGraynor 1-2 (0-2fs), C Dunleavy 1-0, D Byrne 0-2, F Kelly, C Begley, G Sweeney 0-1 each.

UCD – E Keogh; R Wylie, David Byrne, R McDaid; P O'Harnan, J McCaffrey, C Lenehan; M O'Hanlon, C Sheridan; M Hughes, P Kingston, B Fenton; J Maloney, P Mannion, R Basquel. Subs: C Downey for Kingston (21), J Hayes for Fenton (43), P Reilly for Lenehan (49), C Driver for Basquel (51), S McEntee for Sheridan (54).

DCU – J Farrelly; E Murray, D Wrynn, C Cafferky; G Sweeney, F Kelly, P Dooney; E O'Connor, T Flynn; Davy Byrne, C Dunleavy, M Quinn; C McHugh, C McGraynor, G Kelly. Subs: J Smith for Murray (15), C Begley for Kelly (22), F O'Curraoin for Dunleavy (h-t), W Lowry for O'Connor (54), F O'Shea for Dooney (58).

REF – C Reilly (Meath).

Irish Independent