Maynooth complete their historic mission
Kildare college claim the Collingwood Cup for the first time in their history
The NUI Maynooth team celebrate following their Collingwood Cup victory over NUI Galway at the UCD Bowl in Belfield. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho
NUI Maynooth 2 NUI Galway 1
It was, as they say, an education for Ger O’Brien, the St Patrick’s Athletic full back and Maynooth manager who admitted after seeing his side beat Galway to win the Eircom sponsored Collingwood Cup for the very first time that he hadn’t really appreciated how much victory would mean to a college that, despite the small field, hadn’t even made the final in 35 years.
“When I came here first and they told me that (the Maynooth had never lifted the cup) I don’t think I really understood the significance of it,” he said last night as his players celebrated a few feet away, “but I do now. Some of the UCD lads were saying that it was great for us to just make the final but this is terrific. I’m really proud of the lads; it’s down to them and whatever the level, they’ll enjoy their night tonight.”
They certainly earned their night out with a team that might have been expected to be drained by the effort of putting out both of last year’s finalists over the previous two days, scoring early on and then always just about looking to have an edge over an undoubtedly determined Galway side.
“They were in our faces a bit but in the end I think they were probably a bit more tired than us,” acknowledged Sean Hoare, another of the strong St Pats, who was named player of the tournament shortly after the final whistle. “It’s been a tough few days but the adrenalin gets you through.”
The Connacht college, to be fair, had enough themselves to fuel the late pursuit of an equaliser after Mikey Creane, capped another fine performance with a really wonderful goal. By then, though, they had been two down with Conor Mahony’s effort in the 64th minute adding to the advantage his side had held since Niall Lannigan’s one in the opening stages. Both were close range headers and that the Galway defence may find painful viewing in the Setanta re-runs and manager Jumbo Brennan admitted they’d “gone to a sleep” for the second.
Late on, he admitted afterwards, Hoare was relieved to see his goalkeeper gather a header of his when communications had broken down slightly and Nathan Murphy made a couple of important saves even if his back four dealt well with most of what Galway managed to throw at them.
Maynooth looked a little more composed on the ball generally, though, and as Brennan’s men chased things, O’Brien’s ability to spring Shane Barrett from the bench in the second half must have had a slightly demoralising effect. “He’s a very, very mature student,” joked the manager about the former Drogheda United player, “but you can see that he’s lost none of the class.”
For the most part, though, it was a talented youngsters, many of them, including Dave Campbell’s son Daniel, part of the St Patrick’s under-19 set up, who made their mark on this competition and, in the process, a little bit of history for their college.
NUI Galway: Duffy; Preston Kelly, Fadden, Woods, Rodden; Bradshaw; Creane, O’Rourke, Gaffney (Gallagher, 65 mins); Boyce (Darcy, 73 mins); Whelan.
Referee: R Glynn (Dublin).