Ryan Cup Final
Wednesday November 25th, 2015.
University College Dublin ran away as comfortable winners in the Ryan Cup Final as first half goals from Paul Mannion and Pádraic Harnan stunned DCU into an insurmountable deficit, as Niall Moyna’s side suffered a dizzying twelve-point loss at Parnell Park.
Both sides agreed free admission to the game as a crowd of around 200 spectators arrived at Parnell Park to witness the season’s first offering of silverware in this bout between the current Sigerson champions and 33-times winners UCD in the winter’s mist.
DCU went into the game having beaten Institute of Technology Carlow, Trinity College Dublin, Maynooth University and most recently University College Cork in by a total score of 16-54 to 6-26 en route to this year’s final.
UCD, too, beat University of Ulster, Jordanstown 1-15 to 1-7 in their semi-final, and it was they who ran into a quick two-point lead as scores from Eoin Lowry and Darragh Murphy either side of Ultan Harney’s score from distance put them 0-3 to 0-1 ahead early on.
They then went on the attack again as David Byrne offered a neat pass to corner-forward Lowry whose well struck effort on goal was finely tipped wide by DCU goalkeeper Brendan Flynn.
DCU were severely pinned back in the game’s early exchanges but responded well as Kevin Feely found Shane Carthy, the midfielder moving the ball forward to Conor McHugh, with the Dubliner smashing home a point from close range to steady the Northsiders’ nerves.
DCU took hold of their forward momentum to gain the upper hand after ten minutes. Steven Attride’s score was followed by Wicklow full-forward Conor McGraynor’s strike from distance that put his side 0-4 to 0-3 ahead.
Another point from the DCU captain and one more for McHugh saw DCU race into an unprovoked 0-6 to 0-3 lead. This was short-lived however as Paul Mannion’s free kick was superseded by the Dublin forward’s well manoeuvred goal for UCD following a desperate scramble inside the DCU penalty area.
UCD’s onslaught saw three more combined points from Mannion, Paul Kingston and Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey before a solitary Conor McHugh effort brought an end to the enduring chaos that had occurred – the score line now set at 1-7 to 0-7 in UCD’s favour.
An aggressive blitz from UCD was the final nail in the coffin as far as the competitive edge to the game was concerned. UCD broke through the ranks of DCU’s absent half-back line to penetrate the open space, Paul Mannion laying the ball off for forward Pádraic Harnan to rattle the ball past the onrushing Brendan Flynn to end the half seven points ahead.
DCU offered a slow-burning comeback in the second half but it was hard-fought as Niall Kelly’s point for John Divilly’s side combined with Conor McGraynor’s wide free kick from distance offered a bleak outlook for DCU.
They plugged away in a spirited underdog fashion. Captain McGraynor at last caught one of his side’s long punted passes into the mixed zone, the forward shrugging off the challenge of Darragh Murphy to arrow a fine point over the tip of the crossbar.
Three successfully converted frees from the combined efforts of McHugh and substitute Ryan Lyons put the score at 2-12 to 0-12 to UCD.
Niall Moyna’s side’s refusal to stop competing gave the impression that one goal for his side could spark the most unlikely of comebacks given the fact UCD were nine points ahead ten minutes previous.
However, Rory Connor’s effort from distance, seeming likely to fly over in inspiring fashion to motivate the Great Escape, failed and fell short.
Ultimately, so did DCU. Six unanswered points from Tommy Moolick, Mannion, Lowry, Paul Kingston and second half substitute James McEntee earned UCD a hard earned and well deserved 2-18 to 0-12 victory.
DCU: Brendan Flynn; Stephen Attride, Dessie Ward, Aiden O’Halloran (Nathan Gavigan); Dessie Reynolds (Conor McNally), Conor Moynagh (Jonathan Bealin), Kevin Feely; Steven O’Brien, Shane Carthy (Mark Plunkett); David Byrne, Ultan Harney, Rory Connor; Tom Lahiff, Conor McHugh (Ryan Lyons), Conor McGraynor (c).
UCD: Eoghan Keogh; Ryan Wyllie, David Hyland, Michael Fitzsimons; Conor Mullahy (Niall McInerney), David Byrne (Robert McDaid) Seán O’Dea; Darragh Murphy (Liam Casey) Tommy Moolick; Niall Kelly (James McEntee) Pádraic Harnan, Jack McCaffrey (Jack Barry); Eoin Lowry (Tom Hayes), Paul Mannion, Paul Kingston.
Image credit: Cóilín Duffy