McCarthy masterclass sees UCD edge NUI Galway in dramatic Sigerson Cup final
CON O’CALLAGHAN’S remarkable GAA career got even better yesterday with the Dublin star adding a Sigerson Cup title as UCD outlasted NUI Galway in a cracking final in Santry.
Young Footballer of the Year O'Callaghan took time out of Cuala's All-Ireland club SHC preparations to play for his college but it was forward colleagues Conor McCarthy and Liam Casey who did the crucial damage.
Even the 39th minute introduction of Kieran Molloy, who had already qualified for an All-Ireland club SFC final with Corofin in Tullamore before speeding up the motorway, could not deny John Divilly's side claiming their second title in three years.
Maurice Sheridan's NUI Galway were faster out of the blocks racing into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead midway through the first half with Galway’s Enda Tierney and Damien Comer proving a handful for the UCD defence.
The Dublin college showed obvious effects of their 100-minute marathon victory over UUJ on Wednesday night and could have been further behind were Comer not unlucky to see his palmed effort hit the frame of the goal in the 19th minute.
Amazingly, the ball stayed in play and was worked all the way down the other end where it fell into the hands of man-of-the-match McCarthy, with the Monaghan ace racing through before firing to the right corner past Tadgh O’Malley.
That gave UCD a lease of life and with Laois duo Eoin Lowry and Evan O’Carroll impressing in attack, they pushed into an unlikely lead before captain Comer and Tierney struck a point apiece to leave it 1-5 to 0-8 at the break.
Tipperary’s Casey fired over upon the resumption and were it not for some errant free-taking, UCD could have surged ahead. Instead, a speculative shot on goal from Comer caused trouble for UCD' Charlie Manton.
The ball rebounded off the goalkeeper's knees and into the waiting hands of Sean Kelly who palmed it to the net. McCarthy fired back at the other end with two points, however, to set up a thrilling final quarter, 1-8 apiece.
The Sigerson Cup looked to be on its way west for the first time in 15 years when Adam Gallagher hit the net in the 50th minute goal but UCD's nerve told with McCarthy and Casey having the last laugh to secure their 34th Sigerson Cup title.
SCORERS – UCD: C McCarthy 1-6 (3f), L Casey 0-3, E Lowry 0-2 , E O’Carroll and C O’Callaghan 0-1 each.
NUI Galway: A Gallagher 1-3 (3f), S Kelly 1-0, D Comer and E Tierney (1f) 0-3 each.
UCD – C Manton; L Fortune, C O’Shea, C Mullally; P Healy, J Feehan, S Coen; B O’Sullivan, J Barry; L Casey, C McCarthy, B Byrne; E Lowry, E O’Carroll, C O’Callaghan. Subs: B Ó Seanacháin for Fortune (half-time), T Hayes for O’Carroll (59).
NUI GALWAY – T O’Malley; K McDonnell, S Mulkerrin, S Brennan; G O’Kelly Lynch, R Greene, C Kelly; C D’Arcy, P Cooke; A Gallagher, O Gallagher, E Tierney; B Donovan, D Comer, S Kelly. Subs: R O’Toole for Kelly inj (34), K Molloy for Greene (39), E Finnerty for O Gallagher (43), R Forde for Donovan (46), M Daly for D‘Arcy (57).
REF – J McQuillan (Cavan)