UCC brush Athlone aside to book their final place in style
SIGERSON CUP SEMI-FINAL UCC 1-20 Athlone IT 1-9:Competition specialists University College Cork have the scent of a 21st Sigerson Cup success in their nostrils.
Billy Morgan’s classy outfit set up a final meeting with Dublin Institute of Technology this afternoon by clinically disposing of hosts Athlone IT in yesterday’s last four showdown.
UCC were rocked by James McGivney’s superb 10th-minute goal for AIT but the 2011 winners recovered to lead by 0-11 to 1-3 at half-time. And in a one-sided second half, UCC outscored their opponents by 1-9 to 0-6, with AIT tacking on some late consolation scores.
Conor Sweeney scored UCC’s 53rd-minute goal and finished with a personal haul of 1-5 but the Tipperary man may not have been in the starting line-up had Kerry’s Paul Geaney been fit.
Geaney missed the quarter-final victory over St Mary’s with a hamstring injury and is still not fit enough to return. In his absence, Sweeney stepped into the full-forward line and the Ballyporeen man repaid Morgan’s faith in him with a clinical display of shooting.
Conor Cox, a current Kerry senior panellist, added 10 points, including seven frees, as UCC cruised to victory.
AIT, to their credit, battled from start to finish and Kieran Martin, Frank Burke and Alan Coffey gave the UCC defence plenty to think about.
But UCC can boast a core group of experienced players as six survivors remain from the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
Lot of hurt
And team captain Kevin O’Driscoll revealed that last year’s semi-final defeat to NUI Maynooth hurt UCC badly.
He said: “We really felt after last year that we didn’t perform on the day. We carried a lot of hurt onto this year. A lot of that panel are still here and we felt we had to make amends. This will drive us on a lot.”
O’Driscoll added: “We were expecting a really close battle, coming to play the hosts at home, with the crowd behind them. But it just seemed to happen for us on the day and everything came right.”
Clinical UCC registered just four wides during the entire game and played some lovely football in the second half.
Sweeney’s goal was well-taken but UCC could have added at least one more before full-time. AIT’s Westmeath goalkeeper Gary Connaughton denied Eoin Buckley from close range while a Luke Connolly shot struck the crossbar.
UCC: S Mellet; P Crowley, E O’Mahony, P Galvin; J O’Sullivan, N Daly, T Clancy; P Acheson (0-1), JB Spillane; K O’Driscoll, B Coughlan (0-1), L Connolly (0-2); G O’Grady (0-1), C Cox (0-10, seven frees), C Sweeney (1-5, 0-3 frees). Subs: D O’Sullivan for Coughlan (44 mins), E Buckley for O’Grady (53 mins), B Hewitt for Cox (55 mins), F McNamara for Crowley (55 mins), P Murphy for Clancy (55 mins).
AIT: G Connaughton; C O’Brien, K Clarke, E Kerins; L Murphy, T Rahill, J Dolan; C Duggan, G Egan; J McGivney (1-0), K Martin (0-4, one free), P Masterson; A Stone, F Burke (0-2), A Coffey (0-2). Subs: D Meleady for Kerins (half-time), C Shine (0-1) for Duggan (half-time), D Queeney for Masterson (36 mins), A Caul for McGivney (53 mins), C Duggan for O’Brien (57 mins).
Referee:Gary McCormack (Dublin).