Fresher hurlers come from behind in extra time to win All-Ireland

Aidan Geraghty

DCU's fresher hurlers after their John Corcoran Cup victory. Credit: DCU Dóchas Éireann

DCU Dóchas Éireann 1-15
University of Limerick 1-13

John Corcoran Cup final

DCU’s freshers hurling team tasted All-Ireland success for the first time in its history on Thursday, March 2nd, with a 1-15 to 1-13 win over the University of Limerick at the Mardyke in Cork.

A late equalising point for UL forced another 20 minutes, and a four-point lead in the additional period for the Shannonsiders gave the impression that all hope was lost for DCU. A resilient comeback just moments from time ensured that the John Corcoran Cup headed north on the M8.

The two teams traded blows for the duration of the first half. On six different occasions, DCU took the lead only to be pegged back by their mid-western opponents.

A controversial penalty for Limerick after 25 minutes was not converted, but a goal from play five minutes later sent the sides into the dressing room with UL leading by two: 1-5 to six points.

The teams again traded points for the duration of the second half, this time with UL maintaining a slim but crucial lead.

A Donal Burke free with five minutes to go levelled the scores, before the Dubliner gave his side a one-point lead with another free with only a minute of regulation time left.

Despite holding a single-score lead for most of the three minutes of injury time, DCU were lucky to make it to extra time. A 55-yard Limerick free dropped short to create a goal chance.

The close-range effort was heroically saved by Wexfordman Oisín Foley in the DCU goal, but another free for UL before the final whistle once again levelled the sides, forcing another 20 minutes to be played.

It looked as if DCU would be punished for allowing their opponents a foothold in the game. UL kept ticking over to give themselves a four-point advantage at half-time in extra time: 1-12 to 11 points.

Just after the restart, another free from Burke reduced the deficit to only three, but the real turning point was Colin Currie’s goal for the Glasnevin side to cancel out Limerick’s hard-fought lead.

The flawless free-taking of Donal Burke afforded DCU the opportunity to take the lead in the dying embers of extra time. The Na Fianna clubman pucked one over from 65 yards out.

The final minutes weren’t without a scare for Eoin Roche and his team, however. What would have been the winning goal for UL was denied, when Aron Shanagher’s shot found nothing but the ash at the end of Foley’s hand.

Traditionally, hurling has been the weaker of the two major codes in Gaelic games in DCU, with the University’s football teams being far more renowned. This season, however, an overachieving Fitzgibbon Cup side laid the foundations for a change in that culture and this result is a further indicator of the strides taken by the small ball game in Dublin 9.

DCU fresher football captain Brendan McCole attributed part of the motivation for his team’s All-Ireland success the following night to Eoin Roche’s hurlers.

“We were definitely aware of (the fact that they had won the All-Ireland),” McCole said, in his interview with Jerome Quinn (see page 18).

DCU’s senior hurling team already has a strong core. Future Dublin stars Paul O’Dea and Eoghan McHugh represent Na Fianna in Nick Weir’s team, and the addition of Donal Burke and Colin Currie next season should be seamless given the presence of their fellow clubmen in the senior setup.

DCU: Oisín Foley (Crossabeg/Ballymurn, Wexford); John Curran (Dungarvan, Waterford), Darren Byrne (Blackwater, Wexford), Darren Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks, Kilkenny); Oisín Lanigan (St. Vincent’s, Dublin), Shane Howard (Fingallians, Dublin), Daire Gray (Whitehall Colmcille, Dublin); Ciarán Dowling (Lucan Sarsfields, Dublin), Fergal Whitely (Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin); Conor Burke (St. Vincent’s, Dublin), Conor Hearne (Shelmaliers, Wexford), Donal Burke (Na Fianna, Dublin); Edmond Delaney (Conahy Shamrocks,Kilkenny), John Donnelly (Thomastown, Kilkenny), Colin Currie (Na Fianna, Dublin).

DCU scorers: Donal Burke 0-6f, Colin Currie 1-2, Edmond Delaney 0-2f, Ciarán Dowling 0-2, Darren Mullen 0-1, Daire Gray 0-1, Fergal Whitely 0-1.

UL: Páraic O’Loughlin (Clonlara, Clare); Gavin Dunne (Holycross-Ballycahill, Tipperary), Nathan Fox (Parteen, Clare), Mark Kearns (Mooncoin, Kilkenny); Conor Doheny (Dicksboro, Kilkenny), Kyle Hayes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry, Limerick), Cathal Noonan (Killanena, Clare); Rónán Hardiman (Athenry, Galway), Ciarán O’Connor (Kilmallock, Limerick); Ross Malone (Oranmore-Maree, Galway), Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones na Sionna, Clare), Eoghan Murray (Cappoquin, Waterford); Michael Mackey (Adare, Limerick), Michael O’Shea (Smith O’Brien’s, Clare), Jack Kenny (Kilnadeema-Leitrim, Galway).

UL scorers: Eoghan Murray 0-7f, Ross Malone 1-0, Michael O’Shea 0-2, Mark Hughes (sub) 0-2, Michael Mackey 0-1, Ronan Hardiman 0-1.

Aidan Geraghty
Image credit: DCU Dóchas Éireann