UCD pip Ulster University in dramatic Sigerson Cup semi-final
Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup Semi-Final (aet)
UCD 0-18 ULSTER UNIVERSITY 1-13
By Colm Shalvey
UCD are through to their third consecutive Sigerson Cup Final after they edged through a dramatic clash with Ulster University that went right to the wire in Inniskeen on Wednesday night.
The 2016 champions and last year's runners-up looked to have done enough in normal time, but it eventually took another 30-plus minutes of frantic action before their place in Saturday's final was confirmed.
A late Gareth McKinless point saw Ulster University force extra-time, but although a Mark Bradley goal moved them ahead, UCD hit six of the last seven points.
Liam Casey opened the scoring for UCD, but Frank Burns marked his return from injury with a good point at the other end. A tight first half continued with Eoin Lowry and Ronan McNamee swapping points, before an Evan O'Carroll '45 edged UCD ahead for a third time.
A well-struck free from the left wing by Terence O'Brien saw UU go in level at 0-3 apiece.
UCD almost doubled their tally within seconds of the restart, only for Jack Barry's effort on goal to be blocked, before Michael McKernan moved UU ahead for the first time.
Dual star Con O'Callaghan levelled it up, before UU enjoyed a purple patch with points from Rory Brennan, Niall Madine and Lee Brennan (the latter from a '45 after the Tyrone forward saw his shot at goal deflected around the post).
Frank Burns landed a fine score for the Poly, but a string of frees from O'Carroll and Conor McCarthy kept UCD in touch going into the final quarter.
Two spectacular long-range points from play by Monaghan attacker McCarthy had UCD in the driving seat and even after McNamee got a well-taken score in response, Liam Silke had the Dublin college two to the good inside added time.
A 50-metre free by Lee Brennan halved the gap late on and when a last-gasp chance fell to McKinless from an awkward angle on the left wing, the Derry man swung over a brilliant equaliser.
UU got the ideal start to extra-time when a flowing move released Bradley to produce a trademark jink and fire home the only goal. Frees by O'Carroll and McCarthy brought UCD back within a point, however, before the latter levelled it up again.
O’Carroll joined McCarthy on six points when he landed another free from distance, but UU replied one more time when Rory Brennan blazed a goal chance over the bar to make it 1-13 to 0-16 at the end of the 20 added minutes.
It took another two five-minute periods of extra-time to separate these teams, with the first of those ending scoreless as the rain poured down. UCD sub Brian Ó Seanacháin broke the deadlock and O'Callaghan then tapped over a close-range free to double their lead.
A third late reprieve proved beyond reach for UU, whose last attempt was an O'Brien free that couldn't get through a wall of UCD defenders.
UCD will play NUI Galway in the final at Santry Avenue, Dublin on Saturday afternoon.
Scorers for UCD: Evan O’Carroll 0-6 (5f, 1 ’45), Conor McCarthy 0-6 (3f), Con O’Callaghan 0-2 (1f), Liam Silke 0-1, Brian Ó Seanacháin 0-1, Liam Casey 0-1, Eoin Lowry 0-1f.
Scorers for UU: Mark Bradley 1-0, Lee Brennan 0-3 (1f, 1 ’45), Frank Burns 0-2, Rory Brennan 0-2, Ronan McNamee 0-2, Niall Madine 0-1, Michael McKernan 0-1, Gareth McKinless 0-1, Terence O’Brien 0-1f.
UCD: Charlie Manton (Tipperary); Luke Fortune (Cavan), Cillian O’Shea (Dublin), Peter Healy (Antrim); Stephen Coen (Mayo), Conor Mullally (Dublin), Jimmy Feehan (Tipperary); Barry O’Sullivan (Kerry), Jack Barry (Kerry); Liam Casey (Tipperary), Conor McCarthy (Monaghan), Brian Byrne (Kildare); Con O’Callaghan (Dublin), Evan O’Carroll (Laois), Eoin Lowry (Laois). Subs: Brian Ó Seanacháin (Kerry) for Casey (39), Tom Hayes (Cavan) for Lowry (43), Liam Silke (Galway) for Byrne (48), Jim Rossiter (Wexford) for McCarthy (70), Paddy O’Connor (Sligo) for Feehan (70), Larry Moran (Longford) for O’Connor (77).
UU: Seán Fox (Tyrone); Malachy Magee (Down), Michael McKernan (Tyrone), Michael McAvoy (Derry); Rory Brennan (Tyrone), Ronan McNamee (Tyrone), Gareth McKinless (Derry); Terence O’Brien (Derry), Jonny Munroe (Tyrone); Ryan McAnespie (Monaghan), Mark Bradley (Tyrone), Eoin McHugh (Donegal); Frank Burns (Tyrone), Niall Madine (Down), Lee Brennan (Tyrone). Subs: David Mulgrew (Tyrone) for Madine (54), Dáire Gallagher (Tyrone) for Burns (55), Danny Tallon (Derry) for McAnespie (59), Frank Burns for Munroe (70), Eoghain Murray (Tyrone) for McNamee (75), Ryan McAnespie for McHugh (77).
Referee: Seán Hurson (Tyrone).