Maynooth resistance finally broken by star-studded DCU


DCU 1-12 NUI Maynooth 1-6: THE NUMEROUS intercounty players in the DCU ranks must have identified the pressing need to break NUI Maynooth’s brave resistance after David Quinn’s 33rd minute goal levelled matters. It became a serious concern when a Mark Hanratty point put them into a lead, 1-5 to 0-7, as their momentum briefly threatened to carry them into this afternoon’s final against UCC.

The response saw DCU regain their lead in a ruthless 60 seconds that saw David Kelly finish off two smartly concocted points. The second score came off a perfect foot pass from Bryan Cullen into the welcoming arms of Paddy Andrews, who transferred on to Kelly. That’s two central figures in the Dublin senior panel supplying the Sligo corner forward.

The Glasnevin college are littered with quality, mostly of a Dublin variety. Ger Brennan was the shining intercounty beacon in the Maynooth side and his influence was evident, even if he was eclipsed by Cullen’s regal display, but really it was the excellence of players like Niall Coyne of Galway, Offaly’s Nigel Dunne and less heralded Dubliner Cian Mullins that kept this contest brimming with possibilities.

That is until the hammer blow was landed on 43 minutes.

It only takes the slightest error for lethal punishment to be inflicted by a team of DCU’s class. A momentary lack of concentration saw Ronan Flanagan gather possession and drop a ball in on top of Kelly, who wheeled off Colin Freeman’s shoulder before blasting a low shot in off the post.

That made it a four-point gap and the game was up for Maynooth.

Up to that juncture, and thereafter, in fairness, they played with a courage that explains how they upset the odds to beat UUJ and make it to the finals weekend on their own campus.

Most importantly, former Galway All-Ireland winner John Divilly deserves genuine plaudits for sending out a team that played without fear.

With Dunne’s accuracy from placed balls responding to the wealth of scoring options available to DCU the contest reached the second quarter finely balanced at 0-4 apiece. Cathal Cregg edged the favourites ahead as Maynooth faltered, spurning three scoring opportunities.

The next point ensured DCU held a two-point margin at half-time. A fine piece of fielding by Cregg, a rapid lay off to Cullen, who showcased his passing range with a fine ball into Kelly provided a textbook example of how Gaelic football should be played.

It could have been worse. Andrews was fouled just before the interval as he zeroed in on goal but Meath’s Brian Sheridan fired the ensuing penalty wide.

Sheridan partially atoned with a score straight after the break but there followed a blot in the script as Paul Cashin struck a brilliant pass for Quinn’s goal. Then Hanratty put them ahead, only for DCU to rediscover their mojo.

Before the fairytale was curtailed by a dose of reality, Maynooth constantly pressed the issue but little things made the difference. It could be a sacrificial foul by Cullen, taking the yellow card that allowed vital seconds tick away, or Andrews’s good sense to draw a free down the other end for Sheridan to hammer in another nail.

Further points from Andrews and the excellent Roscommon minor Donal Shine, from a 45, put an exclamation mark on proceedings to tee up an intriguing collision with UCC this afternoon.

DCU: M Boyle; P McMahon, K Gavin, K Nolan; J Cooper, B Cullen, D Mooney; D Sheridan (0-1), H McGrillen; P Flynn, M Lyng (0-1), C Cregg (0-1); P Andrews (0-2), B Sheridan (0-3, all frees), D Kelly (1-3). Subs: H Gill for D Mooney (29 mins), R Flanagan for C Cregg (38 mins), R Cullivan for P Flynn (51 mins), D Shine (0-1, 45) for B Sheridan (55 mins).

MAYNOOTH: P Geraghty; K Lynch, B Kinahan, C Freeman; P Cashin (0-1), N Coyne, T Johnson; G McArdle, C Mullins; G Brennan, M Hanratty (0-1), D Quinn (Lucan Sarsfields); D Quinn (1-0, Na Fianna), M Newman, N Dunne (0-4, 45, free). Subs: A Walsh for M Hanratty (41 mins), T Gallagher for C Freeman (46 mins), J Califf for G McArdle (52 mins), F Barry for C Mullins (57 mins).

Referee: P Fox (Westmeath).