UCD put four goals past a hugely disappointing UL to move one step closer to a first Sigerson Cup success in 20 years, but they suffered an injury scare over Dublin star Jack McCaffrey.
The 2015 Footballer of the Year walked off with an ice-pack strapped to his right leg in the 15th minute of yesterday’s semi-final in Belfast.
The news won’t have pleased Dublin manager Jim Gavin, but it looked like a precautionary measure.
The game was already over as a contest, with the management team of John Divilly, Brian Mullins and Sean Boylan well aware of a much tougher test to come against DCU in today’s final.
UCD ripped through a disappointing UL, with Kildare star Niall Kelly bagging two goals.
The star-studded Dublin side scored an unanswered 2-5 in the opening 16 minutes.
Tipperary’s Liam Casey set the tone with a second-minute goal before Laois’ Eoin Lowry ran through a porous Limerick defence to drill a rocket across the goalkeeper after 13 minutes.
Paul Mannion hit two points from play, before being rested early in the second half, and John Heslin nailed four frees in the first half for UCD in what was am impressive performance from the Westmeath man.
Aidan Rowan got UL on the board with an 18th-minute point but it was temporary respite.
Kelly drilled home the first of his two goals in the 20th minute, after an unselfish pass from Heslin, to help UCD lead by 3-9 to 0-2 at the break.
Kerry’s Brian ó Se hit 0-4 for UL, three in the second period, from play and placed balls.
They had the wind after the break, and with UCD running their bench and absolutely no intensity in the game, they were at least able to make a better fist of things after the break.
They chipped over a few points through Denis Daly, Rory Deane and Kevin Moore before Niall Kelly grabbed his second goal, after intercepting a poor pass back to the UL goalkeeper Colm O’Driscoll in the 48th minute.
Galway’s Ian Burke scored UL’s only goal in the 54th minute with a low left-footed finish.
He then missed an injury-time penalty, with UCD 'keeper Eoghan Keogh diving to his right to push his shot round the post.
Scorers – UCD: N Kelly 2-0, J Heslin 0-5 (4f), L Casey 1-1, E Lowry 1-1 (1 ‘45), P Mannion 0-3 (1f), C McCarthy, T Moolick 0-1 each. UL: B ó Sé 0-4 (1f, 1 ‘45), I Burke 1-0, D Daly 0-2, A Roan, R Deane 0-1 each, K Moore 0-1 (f).
UCD – E Keogh (Laois); R Wylie (Monaghan), D Hyland (Kildare), M Fitzsimons (Dublin); S O’Dea (Limerick), D Byrne (Dublin), J McCaffrey (Dublin); J Barry (Kerry), L Casey (Tipperary); N Kelly (Kildare), J McEntee (Meath), C McCarthy (Monaghan); J Heslin (Westmeath), E Lowry (Laois), P Mannion (Dublin). Subs: N McInerney (Roscommon) for McCaffrey (15), S Coen (Mayo) for Hyland (h-t), P Kingston (Laois) for McCarthy (h-t), R Carr (Louth) for Mannion (40), T Moolick (Kildare) for Kelly (51).
UL – C O’Driscoll (Cork); E Kelly (Kerry), C Long (Kerry), P O’Connor (Kerry); A Rowan (Longford), D Daly (Kerry), F Boland (Mayo); G Hegarty (Limerick), R Deane (Cork); D Neville (Limerick), S Killoran (Roscommon), C Sheehan (Limerick); I Burke (Galway), K Moore (Limerick), B ó Sé (Kerry). Subs: D Larkin (Wexford) for Hegarty (20), P White (Limerick) for F Boland (22), L Boland (Tipperary) for Larkin (BC, 26), S Naughton (Limerick) for Moore (44), C O’Dea (Limerick) for Killoran (45), N Donovan (Tipperary) for Daly (51).
Ref – C Branagan (Down)