Friday 23 February 2018

St Mary's stun Enda Smith-inspired DCU to seal semi-final place

DCU were hot favourites for the game
DCU were hot favourites for the game
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

The last significant action of a pulsating game saw St Mary’s goalkeeper Mark Reid pull off a brilliant save at the feet of DCU’s Enda Smith.

Reid’s save denied Smith his ‘Roy of the Rovers’ moment.’ The Roscommon star had done so much in the game that had he grabbed the winner, and in the process completed his hat-trick, it would have been fitting. But then a loss for St Mary’s wouldn’t have felt right either.

For 80 minutes, the game ebbed and flowed and at various points, both teams looked in control. When St Mary’s opened up a five-point lead five minutes into the second half against a DCU side who had yet to score from play, they looked halfway home.

But two brilliant goals from Smith tipped the balance back in the home side’s favour.

And as the clock ticked into injury time, DCU moved four clear and the looked to have put a foot in the semi-finals in Mayo later this month. But a Corey Quinn point and a well-worked Oisin O’Neill goal brought things level.

From the next kick-out, Smith – who else? – curled over a beauty to surely hand DCU the win. But Mary’s managed one more composed build-up and Tyrone’s Cathal McShane measured the wind superbly to point from a narrow angle to make it 2-10 to 1-13 and force extra-time.   

Extra-time was similarly tight but Reid’s save at the feet of Smith proved crucial and handed Mary’s a measure of revenge.

“That’s massive result for us because it’s as hard as it gets in Sigerson, to come to DCU for it to go to extra-time and then win it,” Mary’s manager Paddy Tally explained.

“Two years ago DCU came to us in Belfast, it went to extra-time and they beat us by a point or two so we knew it was going to be very tight so we are just delighted to come through it.”

Mary’s win saw some stellar individual performances from the likes of Tyrone pair McShane and Conall McCann as well as Down’s Kevin McKernan but this was an against-the-odds victory that came about thanks to the power of the collective.

“The thing about our boys is that we have a system and when we play the system well we are effective but when we deviate we can be caught.

“We came ready today, we worked hard on it to get ready for this one match. So it’s very satisfying from a coaching point of view.”

Scorers – St Mary’s: O O’Neill (3f) 1-3, C McShane 0-3; B Óg McGilligan 1-0, C McCann 0-2, C Byrne, C Meyler, S McConville, K McKernan, M Fitzpatrick, C Quinn 0-1 each. DCU: N Murphy 0-8 (5f), E Smith 2-1, J Durcan, S O’Brien, S Carthy (1f), T Lahiffe 0-1 each.

St Mary’s – M Reid; K Mallon, A McKay, R Mooney; C Byrne, C Meyler, C Mac Íomhar; O O’Neill, B Óg McGilligan; K McKernan, C McCann, C McShane; S McConville, M Fitzpatrick, C Corrigan. Subs: P Og McCrickard for C Byrne (52), J Hannigan for Mac Íomhar (52), C Convery for Fitzpatrick (56), C Quinn for B Óg McGilligan (58). ET: B Óg McGilligan for C Corrigan (61), C Byrne for R Mooney (61), S McConville for K Mallon (63), A Nugent for C McCann (75).

DCU – S Mannion; Eoin Smith, P Durcan, S Lavin; B Kerr, K Feely, S Akram; C McGonagle, M Plunkett; D O’Connor, H McFadden, Enda Smith; J Durcan, N Murphy, R Burns. Subs: S O’Brien for McFadden (28), U Harney for Durcan (h-t), S Carthy for Plunkett (37), D Mannix for Harney (40 inj), J Mealiff for Eoin Smith (53), T Lahiffe for Burns (58), J Durcan for C McGonagle (67), H McFadden for Akram (h-t ET).

Ref – B Cawley (Kildare)

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