The 2023 Sigerson Cup final will be an all-Munster affair, and only the second ever following on from IT Tralee’s win over Garda College in 1999, after UL and UCC both prevailed in very different styles in their semi-final clashes at Netwatch Cullen Park.
UL were first into action against a highly-rated DCU side, and a rip-roaring first quarter saw the Dublin students take the lead four times, including twice from excellent points from Keelin McGann, but on each occasion UL found a response.
20 minutes into the tie there was finally daylight between the sides as Ciarán Downes pounced on an underhit sideline ball and snatched possession ahead of DCU goalkeeper David O’Hanlon, before steadying himself to carefully place the ball over the heads of the defenders and into the net from 30 metres out.
A monster score from Downes helped UL to push their lead out to 1-7 to 0-4 by half-time, but the contest swung back DCU’s way thanks to the impact of Donegal duo Johnny McGroddy and Oisín Gallen.
Gallen was in inspired form, shooting five points in the second half, with McGroddy adding another, as they cut the gap to three points, then conceded a close-range goal to Griffin before rattling off another three in succession.
DCU had their goal chances too, with Lorcan O’Dell dancing through the DCU defence for their best opportunity, only to blast the ball over the bar from 12 metres out. That miss was to prove crucial as it meant they had to keep chasing the game, and UL capitalised with a string of breakaway scores, including two points from Paul Walsh and a goal from Eoghan McLaughlin to seal a 3-12 to 0-12 win.
The second semi-final was a very different affair, where Dylan Geaney’s first half-goal pushed UCC 1-7 to 0-4 ahead of a TU Dublin side that really struggled to make an impression up front, with only Ryan Deegan causing problems at the UCC end of the field, chipping in with two excellent points.
That interval lead was briefly extended to seven points following a fisted effort from Fionn Herlihy, one of three points form play from the Dohenys club man, but a nice strike from Jack Flynn on the run kicked off a run of four points in a row for TUD.
Cathail O’Mahony stemmed the tide with two quickfire scores, but TUD rallied again and two points each from Shane Cunnane and Seán Guiden, with O’Mahony’s sixth point of the night in between, set up a tense finish. A full-length diving block from Shane Cunnane to deny Seán O’Connor at one end kept their hopes alive, and when Guiden played in Darragh Campion some 15 metres from goal, the smash-and-grab victory was on.
Damien Bourke was to prove the hero for UCC, however, as his immaculately-timed tackle forced a turnover, and the Cork students were able to clear their lines one last time and prevail by 1-12 to 0-13.