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UCD lose out to Ulster University in the Sigerson Cup Final

UCD lose out to Ulster University in the Sigerson Cup Final

Thu, 15th February 2024

By Conor Martin

University College Dublin suffered Valentine's Day heartbreak as their bid for a 35th Sigerson Cup title was ended by a dominant Ulster University side as the Ulster college triumphed 3-12 to 0-15 in the Electric Ireland Higher Education GAA Sigerson Cup Final in Tralee last night.

In the opening stages, both teams managed to land punches on one another as they settled into the game. Darragh Canavan hit the ground running from the word go to put Ulster into a first minute lead. Daire Cregg would kick two points in quick succession, one from a free and one from open play, before Ruairí Canavan tied things up.

Moments later, the game would turn on its head and UCD would find themselves suddenly seven points down when Ulster University found the back of the net in the 11th and 12th minutes courtesy of goals from Niall Loughlin and Oisin McCann, before Loughlin put UU well in control with another point to the tally.

UCD rallied and steadied the ship with four unanswered points when Cregg and David Garland kicked a free and score from play, each.

As the wind and rain blew across Austin Stack Park, Ulster University went into the half-time break with a nine-point lead when Darragh Canavan contributed two more scores to his team’s tally, Ben McCarron then became the third man in an Ulster University jersey to raise a green flag when he scored in the 28th minute. Ruairí Canavan followed up his brothers scores with the final point of the first-half, as UCD had it all to do in the second-half.

The two sons of Tyrone legend Peter Canavan continued on from the excellent first-half performances with two more scores, extending the lead to 11 points, leaving UCD staring down the barrel.

To put it bluntly, it was a case of do or die for UCD. Their Sigerson dream was dying right in front of their eyes.

In the 36th minute, a Garland free kick started a second UCD revival. He and Cregg would lead the resurgence as the pair added points in the form of frees and a mark and were within five points of their opponents thanks to Liam Costello before Cregg added another.

They had kept Ulster University scoreless for 13 minutes when Josh Largo Ellis ended the wait for another UU score.

Once more, Garland and Cregg were driving UCD forward and because of said duo, the gap was down to four with nine minutes left to play.

Looking to extinguish UCD hopes once and for all, Ulster University saw out the game with a free from Ruairí Canavan before Eamon Brown and Darragh Canavan. Cregg kicked UCD’s final point of the game before said Brown and Darragh Canavan scores, but the Dublin college couldn’t find a three-pointer late or any other route back into the game as Ulster University showcased some excellent defending to see out the deserved win as they claimed their sixth Sigerson Cup and their first title in 16 years.

Ulster University: R McGeehin (Donegal); R Boyle (Monaghan), C Diamond (Derry), S Donaghy (Tyrone); J Largo-Ellis 0-01 (Fermanagh); R Magill (Down), P Óg McCartan (Tyrone); O McCann 1-00 (Tyrone), B McCarron 1-00 (Derry); R McCaffrey (Fermanagh), C Cush (Tyrone); C Daly (Tyrone); D Canavan 0-05 (Tyrone), N Loughlin 1-01 (Derry), R Canavan 0-04 (0-03f) (Tyrone)

Ulster University Substitutes: E Magee (Armagh) for McCartan (inj, 22), É Brown 0-01 (Down) for C Daly (44), Dara Curran (Tyrone) for N Loughlin (62), Jack Cunningham (Armagh) for C Cush (62), D Fullerton (Tyrone) for R Canavan (64)

University College Dublin: K Roche (Laois), L Smith (Dublin), R Brickenden (Mayo), D McElearney (Monaghan); R O’Toole (Monaghan), S Callinan (Mayo), S Coffey (Meath); P Duffy (Dublin), J Lynam (Westmeath); D Gilmore (Derry), D Cregg 0-09 (0-04f, 0-01m) (Roscommon), D Moriarty (Meath), A Lynch (Meath), C Bolton (Kildare), D Garland 0-05 (0-03f) (Monaghan)

University College Dublin Substitutes: L Costello 0-01 (Galway) for L Smith (ht), Cormac Egan (Offaly) for P Duffy (36), S Forker (Dublin) for D Moriarty (36), B McNulty (Leitrim) for A Lynch (44), Theo Clancy (Dublin) for D Gilmore (60)

Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary)

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