A superb second half display from University College Cork saw them past DCU’s fresher A football team in an enthralling encounter at St. Clare’s that ended in a 1-8 to 2-8 loss for the home side in their Division One quarter final.
DCU may have regretted not building on their early lead which saw them go four points up within the opening ten minutes of the game. Points from DCU forwards Ryan Byrne, Chris McNally, Mark Plunkett and Conor Bradley put the visitors facing an uphill struggle from the offset.
Even though UCC did enjoy the lion’s share of possession throughout the first half, they failed to capitalise on their numerous chances created, hitting consistent wides from open play as well as frees from close range.
Contrast to this was DCU’s strategy in attack. While failing to create any clearcut chances the home side did manage a conversion rate of four points from their opening five shots on goal. The lead was further stretched to five points when DCU’s Mark Plunkett was again afforded acres of space in the middle of the UCC defence which the forward gladly accepted, registering his second point of the game.
The game then came crumbling down on top of DCU as UCC scored two goals in under a minute before the break. Another point saw UCC go in two points up at half time having trailed by five less than twenty minutes previous.
The second half saw UCC find the scoring form they lacked in the first, cancelling out DCU’s opening point to go into a three point lead. This was met by a resurgence from DCU in a well taken Patrick Durkin goal, the half-back exploiting UCC’s obvious weakness’ in the centre of defence.
Whereas the opening half had been won and lost in the centre of the pitch, the game had now enveloped into a hectic end-to-end encounter. DCU’s last-ditch defending being emphatically commended by the crowd of home supporters with the side racking up more than ten blocks in the duration of the game.
However it was in attack that DCU were lacking, with the home side unable to break down UCC’s rigid defensive system, forcing the home side to play the ball around the edge of their opponents half-back line, leaving no option but to shoot from impossible distances in futile attempts.
Another point for DCU was met by two more from UCC, the visitors now 2-07 to 1-07 up. A lifeline was thrown DCU’s way when a penalty was won after a strenuous charge at the UCC defence. However it was not to be for DCU as UCC goalkeeper Darragh O’ Shea dived correctly to his right, making a fantastic save from Ryan Byrne’s effort.
Tensions rose late on in the game with both sets of players committing sloppy fouls – serving only as evidence as to the commitment and want of both sets of teams to overcome the other. The creative spark that lay dormant in the opening half was set alight in the closing minutes with more heroics from UCC goalkeeper Darragh O’ Shea preventing a certain DCU equalizer, saving a low-driven shot with his feet.