Thursday 14 December 2017

Burgess pounces to take cup back to Leeside

NUI Galway 0
(After extra-time)

Hero: Luke Burgess celebrates goal
Hero: Luke Burgess celebrates goal

A contest this tight could only have been won through a moment of assured opportunism, and Dingle native Luke Burgess supplied that -- and more -- as UCC emerged triumphant at College Park yesterday.

His immaculate side-footed strike, nine minutes into extra-time, was the crucial detail of the final, but the Leesiders will also have toasted goalkeeper Kieran McHenry, whose stunning point-blank stop from Brian Conlon's boot only moments later was surely as decisive.

The last time UCC won the Collingwood Cup -- in 2005 -- was not too long ago, but in the meantime UCD, their arch rivals, have laid claim to the accolade of outstanding team in college football, with three wins in the competition.

With the bragging rights wrested away from Dublin after a thrilling semi-final between the pair on Tuesday, UCC would have kicked themselves had they left the trophy behind them -- but NUIG were certainly about to test them here.

If the first half wasn't quite feverish, it was hardly devoid of action either, with both sides exerting plenty of energy when three games in consecutive days might well have knocked the stuffing from them.

NUIG's presence at this late stage was helped in no small by their core of a number League of Ireland players.

After dismissing UL in the first round 6-1, the Corribsiders found the subsequent matches somewhat tougher.

Galway United's Evan Preston Kelly was to the fore, bagging a crucial goal in the semi-final on Tuesday and the right-back brought an impetus to NUI's challenge from the start yesterday.

His Rory Delap-style throw in the 29th minute led to the games first real opening, when Terry O'Doherty met it with an assured touch in the box.

Mickey Creane had the Galway bench on their feet, but his curling effort flashed just the wrong side of McHenry's post.

Cian McBrien couldn't quite meet Enda Dunne's 40th-minute cross with the degree of purchase he would have liked and McHenry rebuffed him easily, after moving swiftly off his line.

UCC should really have wrapped it up in normal time after both Burgess and Eoin Kilcommins spurned bankable opportunities.

As the heavy ground began to drag, the players started to go down with cramp in extra-time. However, substitute Kilcommins showed a little extra vigour for the Corkmen and after he'd chased down the right before picking out Shane Hegarty, Burgess was standing by to sweep home the winner.

NUIG -- Keane, Preston-Kelly, Fadden, Conneely, Browne (Scally h-t); O'Doherty, Keane (Cheevers h-t), McBrien, Dunne; Gaffney, Creane (Lee h-t).

UCC -- McHenry, O'Callaghan (K O'Shea 65) , McSweeney, Forde, Neville; Waters, Burgess, O'Donovan (S Hegarty 65), Holmes; J O'Shea ,E Hegarty.

Ref -- R Glynn (Dublin)

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