By Darren Casserly
NUI Galway have been knocked out of the Sigerson Cup, following a 2-12 to 1-14 defeat to University Collage Cork in Dangan, despite a monstrous scoring tally of 1-9 for Robert Finnerty. A missed 66th minute free by Dessie Conneely sealed UCC’s progress to the next round and NUI Galway’s undeserving elimination from the Sigerson cup.
As the old saying goes, goals win games and never was there a more apt example of that than this tie, which, for NUI Galway, started like a house on fire, as they went four points to no score up after five minutes. Then, what must have been déjà vu to many in the crowd who had witnessed the Fitzgibbon cup game earlier in the day, UCC came roaring back, first through a goal from Galwegian Rory Cunningham and then through a free from Kerry senior footballer Sean O’Shea and suddenly, in the space of a minute, the scores were tied.
A goal from the half back James McEntee gave the Cork side the lead followed by five unanswered points and in the space of ten minutes, NUI Galway had gone from four points up to seven points down on what looked like it was going to be a bad day at the office for NUI Galway sports teams. However, a Robert Finnerty–led comeback meant that the Galway side went into the break three points down, but with momentum very much on their side.
The second half was a relatively more cagey contest than the first half and it was a dream from a football purist point of view, but not either side’s defence. Robert Finnerty continued his hot streak into the second period, levelling the sides ten minutes after the restart. The lack of scoring options for the Galway side proved telling as UCC were able to find scorers all over the park. While the introduction of halfback Kieran Molloy at the break added to the short list of NUI Galway scorers, the clinical Robert Finnerty was able to keep NUI Galway in touching distance.
The teams were still neck and neck going into the final minutes of the game, and it looked like it could go into extra time when UCC gave away a free in the dying seconds of the match, but a narrow miss from Dessie Conneely sealed NUI Galway’s fate in this thrilling showdown that really deserved no losers.
NUI Galway: Ronan Ó Beolain, Kevin Carr, Eoin O’Donoghue, Stephen Brennan, Patrick O’Donnell Kevin McDonnell, Sean Mulkerrin, Aiden Claffey, Cein Darcy, Matthew Ruane, Finian Ó Laoi, Nathan Mullen, John Maher, Robert Finnerty, Dessie Conneely
Subs: Kieran Molloy for Carr (half-time), Padraig Costello for Maher (36), Gavin Burke for Claffey (40), Iarla O’Sullivan for O’Donnell (46) Conor Bohan for Brennan (57).
UCC: Eoghan O’Brien, Liam O’Donovan, Daniel O’Brien, Michael Flood, Ross Dunphy, Brian Hartnett, James McEntee, Padraig Lucey, Padraig Feehan, Sean O’Shea, Killian Spillane, Colm O’Callaghan, Mark Cronin, Rory Cunningham, James Naughton
Subs: Diarmuid O’Connor for Feehan (46), Gary Murphy for Cunningham (51), Colm Barrett for Spillane (57)