UCC 1-16 UL 0-16 (aet)
Driving rain, a howling wind, extra-time and ultimately a 24th Sigerson Cup title success for UCC. It couldn’t, of course, have been any other way for Billy Morgan’s boys who have proven themselves the ultimate dogs of war in the last few weeks.
This was their sixth game in this season’s competition, just two of which they actually won over the regulation 60 minutes.
They actually began the campaign with a loss, ironically enough to UL, while this was the third time that they needed extra-time.
On the previous two occasions, it went to penalties but this time 80 minutes was enough for them to consign UL to back-to-back final defeats.
Dylan Geaney scored 1-4 for UCC and his goal, the very first score of the game, separated the teams at the SETU Waterford Sports Arena and the Kerry man added an insurance point from a free deep into stoppage-time.
Mark Cronin was terrific again for UCC, scoring 0-5, while his 2019 All-Ireland under-20 winning Cork colleague Cathail O’Mahony contributed two important scores before limping off with an apparent hamstring injury.
It is the second year running that UL have lost a final in pouring rain, coming up short against NUI Galway last season in Carlow.
Trailing 0-6 to 1-5 at half-time of normal time, they penned UCC back in their own half for a portion of the second half and reeled off seven points in a row in that period to take a two-point lead themselves, 0-13 to 1-8.
Clare’s Emmet McMahon was terrific for UL, scoring back-to-back points off either foot during the blitzkrieg.
A topsy-turvy encounter swung back in UCC’s favour as they regained the lead late on before Darragh Cashman’s 65th-minute equaliser for UL which forced extra-time, 0-15 to 1-12.
Cashman wore number 35 on his back and thwarted UCC’s number 35, Michael O’Gara, who suspected he may have won it for the Cork side a couple of minutes earlier.
No matter, UCC were the stronger side in extra-time, undoubtedly drawing on the experiences of the previous penalty shoot-out wins over Queen’s and St Mary’s.
Fionn Herlihy, Seán O’Connor and Cronin stretched the UCC lead out to three points in the first half of extra-time.
All UL could muster in return was a solitary score from McMahon, albeit a beauty off his left foot this time.
It looked as if Cashman may settle it with a late, late goal but he was dragged down by Colm Moriarty, who was promptly black carded, though Geaney’s point from the subsequent free was enough to copperfasten it.
And finally UCC drew breath.
UCC: D Foley; M Shanley, D O’Mahony, D Bourke; B Murphy, S Merritt, B Curtin; B Hartnett, R Murphy; J Murphy, F Herlihy (0-2), K Falvey (0-1); D Geaney (1-4, three frees), M Cronin (0-5, two frees, one mark), C O’Mahony (0-2).
Subs: M O’Gara (0-1) for Falvey (47 mins), L Wall for Curtin (50), S O’Connor (0-1) for C O’Mahony (60), M Cooper for B Murphy (63), S Quilter for Geaney (78), D Peet for Bourke (80).
UL: C Flaherty; C Moriarty, J O’Brien, J Glynn (0-1); D Cashman (0-2), J Coyne (0-2), E McLaughlin (0-1); D Walsh, P Kearney (0-3, three frees); C Downes (0-2), E McMahon (0-4), I Ugweru; J Hayes, A Griffin, M Lenehan (0-1).
Subs: B McNamara for McLaughlin (11-14 mins, blood), P Walsh for Hayes (h-t), S McDonnell for Ugweru (35), McNamara for O’Brien (40), F Irwin for Lenehan (49), C Dempsey for Kearney (58), D Mangan for Griffin (e-t), C Glennon for D Walsh (69), G Hassett for McDonnell (h-t e-t), S O’Leary for Coyne (75).
Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone).