Spillane strike sinks favourites as UCC book semi-final spot
UCC blew the competition wide open when they shocked a star-studded DCU in their quarter-final meeting at Belfield yesterday.
Holders DCU were the tournament favourites and, on paper, Billy Morgan's Cork side were dwarfed by the Dublin university when it came to big name experience at inter-county level.
Even though DCU were without injured trio David Kelly, Donie Shine and Bryan Cullen, they were expected to still have enough in the tank to reach the last four.
But in a triumph for substance over style, UCC paid no respect to their opponents' illustrious reputation and shaded a gripping battle.
Two magnificent early points from DCU's Donegal star Michael Murphy seemed to set an ominous pattern, but a dogged UCC never allowed too much of a gap to open up.
And, through inside forwards Barry O'Driscoll from Nemo Rangers and Daithi Casey from Dr Crokes, UCC had impressive finishing class of their own, which in the end, their opponents found too difficult to contain.
DCU dominated the possession in the first half, but failed to make it count.
On a number of occasions they carved openings with strong runners from deep, but the final ball let them down -- much to the relief of the underdogs.
In the 11th minute Chris McGuinness missed a clear goal chance and a minute later DCU's Dublin star Paul Flynn spilled the ball just as he was ready to unleash a close-range crack at goal
Inspired by this let off -- and with Eoin O'Mahony getting to grips with the threat of Murphy -- UCC gradually gained a foothold in the game. As Daithi Casey kicked some great points under pressure, they were well worth their 0-7 to 0-6 interval lead.
The decisive score came in the 52 minute when O'Driscoll set up JB Spillane to crash to the net for UCC.
The green flag stunned the holders and they peppered the UCC goal, but a flicked on effort from Cavan's Michael Lyng came back off the post and an effort from Dublin's Paddy Andrews also found the woodwork as the eventual winners rode their luck to leave DCU frustrated.
Not for the first time UCC had Casey to thank for a vital contribution when they needed to relieve the pressure.
DCU came looking for a point to force extra-time, but a well disciplined UCC defence shepherded them into cul de sacs to ensure a famous and well deserved victory.
SCORERS -- UCC: D Casey 0-4 (1f), JB Spillane 1-0, B O'Driscoll 0-3 (1f, 1 '45'), J Fitzpatrick 0-2, S O'Brien, J Buckley, M Griffin 0-1 each. DCU: M Murphy 0-5 (3fs), M Lyng 0-4f, C Begley 0-2, J McCarthy, K Nolan, C McGuinness 0-1 each.
UCC -- K O'Halloran; P Crowley, E O'Mahony, J O'Sullivan; S Kelly, A Greaney, B Daly; W Kennedy, J Fitzpatrick; K O'Driscoll, M Collins, JB Spillane; B O'Driscoll, D Casey, S O'Brien. Subs: J Buckley for Kennedy (24), N Daly for Greaney (53), M Griffin for O'Brien (55), D Nation for Fitzpatrick (60).
DCU -- R Hennelly; P McMahon, K Gavin, S Ormsby; J McCarthy, K Nolan, C Begley; M McElhinney, N McAdam; C Cregg, M Lyng, P Flynn; P Andrews, M Murphy, C McGuinness. Subs: A McFadden for Cregg (36), C Rafferty for Flynn (39), F O'Shea for McAdam (53).
Ref -- C Reynolds (Down)
TODAY: NUIM (Maynooth) v UUJ (Jordanstown), 2.0; UCD v UCC, 3.30.