Smith's late strike fires DCU into decider
DCU 2-8 UCD 0-11
DCU needed a late goal and a point to deny UCD a place in the final at the Mardyke yesterday.
With the game into injury-time, it looked like UCD's second-half flurry would propel them over the line as they led by 0-11 to 1-7, but there was time left for late drama.
After Conor McGraynor was fouled for a penalty, Enda Smith goaled the rebound when his initial effort was saved by Eoin Keogh, and then Colm Begley completed the turnaround with a pointed free.
DCU manager Niall Moyna never doubted his side's character, however.
"No," he said, "this team has been down in matches all year. They were nine points down to UCC in the league semi-final and they came back and won by six.
"This team finds a way. We had a bit of luck today but those are the vagaries of sport.
"We'll take the luck any way we can get it."
It had appeared up until then that the luck wouldn't be on DCU's side.
They had led by 1-6 to 0-4 at half-time and though John Heslin and Niall Kelly got UCD to within a goal early in the second half, that storm looked to have been weathered.
McGraynor pointed and then he took a pass from Smith and barrelled his way through the defence before netting.
That would have made it 2-7 to 0-6 but instead referee Rory Hickey awarded a free out and UCD made the most of the let-off.
Heslin underpinned the fightback as he kicked two points, with Brian Fenton getting another to bring them to within just one.
They had all of the momentum but it took until the 51st minute for them to level, through Kelly.
The lead score was even more elusive but that came too on 59, with Jack Barry at the end of a good move.
It put them ahead for the first time in the game, but it was only fleeting as DCU responded at the death.
The victors had started the game brilliantly, Smith's goal key as they had moved into a 1-6 to 0-2 lead. While UCD rallied slightly before half-time, a DCU win looked likelier at the break.
They would prevail, but it was not straightforward.
Scorers - DCU: E Smith 2-3, C Begley (f), C McHugh (f), C McGraynor, C Meredith, C Moynagh 0-1 each. UCD: J Heslin 0-5 (4fs), N Kelly 0-2, E Nolan, J Barry, C Lenehan, B Fenton 0-1 each.
DCU - T Lowe; J Smith, C Boyle, C Daly; C Moynagh, D Ward, C Begley; F Kelly, S O'Brien; E Smith, C Meredith, D O'Connor; D Smith, D Wrynn, C McHugh. Subs: C McGraynor for O'Connor, R Connor for Kelly (both h-t), N Murphy for McHugh (37), D Mannix for D Smith (47), S Carey for Meredith (49), M Quinn for Carey (52, BC).
UCD - E Keogh; R Wylie, D Byrne, A Ó Murchú; M Deegan, C Mullally, Martin Ó Cathaláin; C Sheridan, J Heslin; B Fenton, J McCaffrey, E Nolan; N Kelly, M Hughes, R Basquel. Subs: M O'Hanlon for Nolan (24, BC), C Lenehan for Sheridan (24, injured), R McDaid for Deegan (30), S O'Dea for Ó Cathaláin (h-t), J Barry for Basquel (45), S Kilcoyne for Lenehan (57).
Ref - R Hickey (Clare).