A superb performance from Conor McGraynor failed to prevent DCU from succumbing to a one-point loss to UCD in the Intermediate Football League on Wednesday last.
The Wicklow footballer was at the centre of everything good about DCU’s play, scoring two vital goals and setting up two more, while his direct running at the UCD defence was the visitor’s most potent attacking weapon.
Despite McGraynor scoring the game’s opening point after 90 seconds, it was UCD who dominated for much of the opening half, surging into a 1-7 to 1-2 lead by the 15th minute.
This advantage was largely thanks to centre-half forward Eugene Sheehan, who scored three points in the opening quarter, and when full forward Pat Reilly plucked a high ball from the skies and set up Mike Dineen for a green flag, DCU looked set for a long afternoon.
The visitors, however, failed to give up despite the momentum and indeed most of the refereeing decisions going against them as two goals in a ten-minute spell at the end of the first-half swung the pendulum back in their favour.
First, McGraynor set up the excellent Brendan McElroy for a three pointer before McGraynor himself pierced through the UCD defence and sent a dinky chip into the top corner of the net.
As the half-time whistle approached, DCU were rampant, scoring 1-2 without reply in a blistering five-minute spell. John Quinn was rewarded for his tireless work with a wonderful point on 27 minutes, while Colin Compton and a McGraynor free swelled DCU’s tally.
DCU introduced Stephen Gilmore at half time, meaning he was up against his brother Adrian, who lined out at wing-forward for the South Dublin University and when McGraynor goaled after easing through the UCD rearguard, it seemed that Stephen would have the bragging rights in the Gilmore household.
Following McGraynor’s goal on 33 minutes, DCU led by 3-6 to 1-9. That said, they could only muster 1-2 in the remaining 27 minutes as UCD, led by the magnificent Eugene Sheehan, and abetted by some questionable refereeing decisions, started to recapture their early first-half form.
UCD regained the momentum with a Sean Brady goal just 120 seconds after McGraynor’s effort, while both Brady and Sheehan remained wholly accurate from placed balls to give UCD a slender lead they would never relinquish.
Another goal in the final quarter following a speculative high ball into the square from McGraynor kept the game tight. Regardless, DCU still left fortress Belfield with no points, but a lot learned and some encouraging signs for the year ahead for Tommy Conroy and his management team.