February 20th 2016
University College Dublin’s strong second half performance against holders and city rivals DCU earned them their first Sigerson Cup since 1996.
The game, a repeat of last month’s League Final which UCD won with ease, took place in very poor conditions in Jordanstown.
UCD opened the scoring in the 4th minute when Dublin’s Paul Mannion was fouled on the 14-yard line. Westmeath’s John Heslin dispatched the resulting free with ease, scoring the first of his six points.
DCU responded quickly through the boot of Stephen Attride. The wing back swerved the ball over with the outside of his boot from distance, just as he had done in the previous day’s semi-final against UUJ.
In the 14th minute UCD’s Paul Mannion scored probably the point of the game. His left-footed free kick from where the sideline meets the 21 yard line was measured to perfection and put his side two points ahead. However that was the last bit of action for Mannion as he limped off with injured quadriceps moments later.
Conor McCarthy then got UCD’s first score from play as DCU struggled to win breaks in the middle of the field. DCU were lucky to not find themselves even further behind as Tom Hayes who replaced Mannion missed what looked to be an easy opportunity for a point.
DCU kept trying to get the scoreboard ticking again but found it very difficult, missing another free. Moments later, after a good run and tidy cut inside two UCD defenders Rory Connor failed to convert on his weaker left foot.
Just when things were beginning to look miserable for DCU, the final four minutes of the half filled them with hope. In the 27th minute UCD’s Niall Kelly was black carded by David Coldrick.
Three minutes later DCU had their first goal. Roscommon’s Enda Smith went on a powerful run through several UCD defenders and a clever hand pass put midfielder Stephen O’Brien one on one with the UCD goalkeeper and he finished well.
DCU brought the half to an end with one more score as Carey finally slotted over his first free, putting his side one point up at the break, leaving the game looking like it was anyone’s to take.
UCD opened the second half scoring after two minutes thanks to another free from Heslin. In the 12 minutes of play that followed this score there were three more points added, all of them for UCD and all of them involved Heslin. The first two were frees he scored himself and the third came from Conor McCarthy after Heslin held the ball up, drew the defenders in and played him through.
DCU were really struggling to create anything up front and with just 10 minutes left to play had not scored in the second half. This changed when substitute Conor McHugh went on a run through the UCD defence and forced a good save from the UCD goalkeeper. The rebound then landed in the arms of Conor McGraynor who was swarmed by a group of UCD defenders and dragged to the floor. DCU were awarded a penalty and it was coolly dispatched into the bottom right corner by centre back Conor Moynagh leaving the game tied with nine minutes to go.
Man of the match John Heslin then added his sixth point as he rounded two DCU defenders and curled the ball over on his weaker left foot, leaving UCD a point ahead with four minutes of regular time to play.
As the game entered additional time UCD put themselves another point ahead. Corner back Michael Fitzsimons’ perfectly executed cross field pass found substitute Stephen Coen who drove the ball over leaving two between the sides.
In the final minute of the added four DCU were left with no option to launch a Hail Mary into the UCD area. A free was given against Conor McGraynor for pushing and as UCD travelled up the field the final whistle was blown, ending UCD’s long wait for the title and DCU’s record of having never lost a Sigerson Cup final.
UCD: E Keogh; R Wylie, D Hyland, D Byrne; C Mullaly, M Fitzsimons, J McCaffrey; L Casey, R McDaid; C McCarthy (0-2), J Heslin (0-6 4f), C Basquel; E Lowry, P Mannion (0-1 f), N Kelly.
Subs: T Hayes for Mannion (17’), J McEntee for Kelly (29’), S Coen (0-1) for McEntee (43’), J Barry for Lowry (53’), S O’Dea for McCaffrey (57’), T Moolick for Casey (58’).
DCU: P O’Donnell; K Daly, K Feeley, J Smith; S Attride, C Moynagh, D Byrne; S O’Brien (1-0), M Quinn; D O’Connor, E Smith, C Begley; R Connor, R Lyons, S Carey (0-1 f).
Subs: S Carthy for Quinn (HT), C McGraynor for Connor (HT),
D Ward for Daly (44’), C McHugh for Carey (47’), C Breheny for Lyons (47’), C McNally for Smith (59’).
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)