Bannigan’s injury time scores send DCU into Sigerson Cup Quarter Final

Conor Breslin

DCU 0-11 Garda College 0-09

DCU’s Michael Bannigan was the hero of the hour as he kicked three late points deep into injury to give DCU a two-point win over a tricky Garda College in the opening round of the Sigerson Cup at St Clares.

DCU went into the match hot favourites, however, with ten minutes remaining in the match and following the dismissal of Dublin senior footballer Paddy Small, the home side looked set for an early championship exit.

However, the final minutes of normal time in the second half, proved pivotal for the North Dublin college. Garda and Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton was perhaps the star of the game, with superb accuracy in his kickouts, as well as adding three points to his name from frees. That all changed on the hour mark after Patton also received marching orders due to a late and dangerous challenge on Michael Bannigan. With consistent fouling from the Garda defence, Monaghan native Bannigan struck 3 points in stoppage time to set DCU up with a two-point victory.

An Garda opened the match lively, with Galway’s Paul Mannion proving a little bit to strong for the DCU defence as he contributed two-points to give the Garda college an early advantage. The only goal attempt of the match came in the eighth minute with a long ball fielded inside to midfielder Ciaran McGinley. After beating both Brendan McCole and goalkeeper Evan Comerford, it left McGinley with an open goal shot which somehow went wide.

DCU found it difficult to break down the Guards defence but eventually found their rhythm with points from Bannigan, Thomas Edward Donohue and David Garland. Garland also popped up with a lovely assist. Thirty metres out he chipped the Garda defence to find Mark Barry sprinting inside unmarked, however Barry only settled for a fisted point.

The visitors were letting their presence known with hard physicality shown throughout the field. They also kept their distance with points from Mannion, Paul McKeon and frees converted from goalie Shaun Patton to ensure the underdogs were 0-6 to 0-4 ahead at half time.

DCU still made it difficult on themselves in the second half with poor hand passes, bad decision making and failure to break down the Guards defensive line. Again, the Guards found gaps in the DCU defence with Colm O’Brien firing in a long ball to McGinley. With McKeon bursting off the shoulder, he looked set on goal but had to settle for a point due to the high pressure applied by corner-back Conor Morrison.

The home side eventually started to crawl back, forcing turnovers on the Guards and even coming up with two points from Michael Bannigan and Brian Stack to put just one score between the teams. However, bother came for DCU on the 49th minute after Dublin star Paddy Small received a black card, having already received a yellow. With Patton again scoring from a free, the Guards looked like they were in sight of a last eight spot.

DCU now down to fourteen never gave in. Points from Bannigan and substitute Tom Fox gave DCU the lead for the first time with five minutes to go. The Guards were able to bring the match back in their favour, with long running bursts through the centre and consistent fouling from the DCU defence gave the Guards the opportunity to take the lead with two frees once again struck over by Patton.

However, Patton saw red on the hour mark for a rash challenge. From this the Guards ultimately collapsed, which led to half-forward Bannigan cancelling out the Templemore side’s cushion with a free converted from an extremely tight angle under immense pressure to bring the sides level. With eight minutes of injury time added Bannigan was able to pop over two more frees to set up a quarter final showdown against Queens University Belfast next Sunday.

Speaking to DCU captain Brendan McCole after the game he said, “We said going into the match we would give the Guards the respect they deserved, with ten minutes left in the game we were a point down so we had to dig deep and thankfully we came out on the right side.”

“We knew if we could put pressure on their sub-keeper by pressing his kickout out as much as possible, we could get possession and force ourselves into a good position in the final stages of the match. Thankfully it worked out,” said McCole

DCU Team: Evan Comerford; Conor Morrison; Brendan McCole; Daniel Corcoran; Kevin Flynn; Sean McMahon; Declan Monaghan; Jordan Morrissey; Sean Bugler; Brian Stack (0-1); Michael Bannigan (0-6); Mark Barry (0-1); Thomas Edward Donohue (0-1); Paddy Small; David Garland (0-1); Subs: Tom Fox (0-1) for Barry (29); Cian McKeown for Corcoran (52); Shehroz Akram for Monaghan (55);

Garda College Team: Shaun Patton (0-3); David Dunne; Shane Nerney; Dara Petit; Tom Brereton; Dale Masterson; Jack Bellamy; Tom Clarke; Ciaran McGinley; Kevin O’Sullivan; Ryan Harkin; Kieran Doherty; Paul Mannion (0-3); Paul McKeon (0-3); Colm O’Brien; Subs: Jason Kane for O’Brien (36); Aidan Walsh for Mckeon (39); Jamie Thackaberry for Bellamy (50); Manus Breathnach for Petit (60);

Conor Breslin

Image Credit: DCU Dóchas Éireann