By Conor Martin
University College Dublin are looking forward to their first Sigerson Cup final in six years after they did just enough to edge out the University of Limerick 2-12 to 1-14 in their Electric Ireland Higher Education GAA Sigerson Cup Semi-Final at SETU Carlow Campus last night.
The pace was set early when Diamruid Moriarty got UCD up and running in the first minute with a point from open play, before Paul Keaney instantly replied for UL, only for Daire Cregg to put the Dublin college back in front.
After a fairly even start by the two teams, it was UL who made the first real breakthrough as they looked to put daylight between themselves and UCD.
They then hit a purple patch of scores, which started when Keaney found the net after reacting quickest after UCD goalkeeper Killian Roche didn’t clear his lines. By the 17th minute, UL were five points up after Ciaran Downes, Jack McCabe and Darragh Cashman all followed up Keaney's goal.
However, that would be UL’s final score of the half, as UCD enjoyed their tidal wave of scores, which started with Aaron Lynch converting a mark. Moriarty would point for the first time since opening the scoreboard at the start, as Lynch, David Garland and Cregg helped UCD draw level in the 27th minute. The equalising score was followed by one final first-half point when Moriarty finished the first-half as he started it, with a score to put UCD into the lead.
Restarting the second-half with a one-point lead, UCD left off where they had finished the first. Jonathan Lynam extended that lead with his side's first goal of the evening, whilst Moriarty stretched that lead with another score.
Paul Walsh got UL up and running after the restart, but Garland would quickly restore the sizeable UCD lead.
Suddenly, UL sprung back into life and kicked four unanswered scores courtesy of Downes and Frank Irwin, with the latter’s second point reducing the gap to one. It was all to play for.
Inside the final quarter of the match, things were getting tense. Cregg picked up a caution for his troubles while Garland and Walsh sent their frees over the bar.
Garland thought he had the 34-time Sigerson Cup winners home and dry when he got himself amongst the goalscorers in the 53rd minute. But UL weren’t going to let their Sigerson dream die without a fight.
Conor Flaherty, Downes and Brian McNamara kept their side alive, while at the other end, Cregg gave UCD a two-point lead, which was followed by an Irwin score for UL, but the college from Limerick couldn’t find another score as UCD advanced to the Sigerson Cup Final by the barest of margins in an enthralling encounter.
The Dublin College will take on Ulster University in the final next Wednesday, February 14th, as they go in search of title number 35.
Scorers for UCD: D Garland 1-3 (2f), D Moriarty 0-4, D Cregg 0-3 (1f), J Lynam 1-0, A Lynch 0-2 (1 mark).
Scorers for UL: P Keaney 1-1 (1f), C Downes 0-4 (1f), F Irwin 0-3 (2f), P Walsh 0-2 (f), B McNamara, C Flaherty, D Cashman, J McCabe 0-1 each
University College Dublin : K Roche; L Smith, R Brickenden, D McElearney; R O’Toole, S Callinan, S Coffey; P Duffy, J Lynam; D Gilmore, D Cregg, D Moriarty; A Lynch, B O’Carroll, D Garland. Subs: C Bolton for Moriarty (34), L Costello for Lynch (50)
University of Limerick: C Flaherty; C Moriarty, M Dempsey, C Keogh; D Cashman, C Glennon, D Walsh; C Ryan, B McNamara; F Irwin, P Keaney, S McDonnell; P Walsh, C Downes, J McCabe. Subs: F Kelly for Glennon (h/t), J Fallon for McDonnell (h/t), D Heneghan for Keaney (33), G Hassett for McCabe (40), C McHale for Walsh (50)
Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare)