St Mary's flying Ulster flag as UUJ stumble yet again
It was a mixed bag for the Ulster Colleges in round two of the Sigerson Cup, with St Mary's once again proving they are more than the sum of their parts with a dramatic 2-14 to 2-13 extra-time win away to DCU.
It took a late goal by promising Crossmaglen and Armagh youngster Oisin O'Neill - a nephew of Oisin McConville - to force the issue to extra-time after two Enda Smith goals for DCU.
However, Paddy Tally's men booked their place in round three and took another step closer to the Sigerson weekend - hosted at the Connacht Centre of Excellence this year - with a goal from Brian Óg McGilligan, son of the 1993 All-Ireland winning midfielder Brian senior.
The 'Ranch' again confound the doubters with their indominable spirit.
In what was expected to be the tie of the day, UCD served up a serious example of why they are favourites to retain the Sigerson Cup by swatting aside a feeble Jordanstown team on their own home turf in this round two tie.
John Divilly's men were one point clear at half-time, 0-8 to 0-7, but restricted their opponents to one point from play in the entire second half, while recording only three wides in a display of excellent shooting.
Question marks will once again arise over Jordanstown. Time and again they approach the Sigerson Cup with what looks like the best team on paper, but they have issues with getting the team to gel. Once UCD scored seven of the first eight points of the second half, UUJ manager Martin McHugh sent on Eoin Donnelly - who had failed a late fitness test - but the Fermanagh captain was dismissed within four minutes by referee Padraig Hughes on a black card.
By that stage, their challenge had already wilted. The final nail in the coffin came when 2015 Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey put Monaghan's Conor McCarthy through with a handpass after a typically surging run, and McCarthy produced a low finish past the despairing reach of Sean Fox.
"They went at it, and it worked out. In fairness, we were a little bit hungrier and that's no offence to Jordanstown. But our lads were getting in around the 50-50 ball and we had a right cut up front," said Divilly afterwards.
"We have some quality players - if we can get ball to them, we expect them to score."
As for the hunger of champions, Divilly explained: "We didn't win it for 20 years before the last. Our philosophy is to go for it as hard as you can. This competition is all about getting to the weekend. If you are in the weekend, you have a chance of winning something."
His opposite number McHugh stated he may not be back next year. "Looking at them today, it will take a good team to beat them," he said.
"We tried a lot of things today. We tried dropping a sweeper back to give us more cover.
"They are a very powerful, well-drilled team and you have to credit them. They have a lot of work done."
UUJ: S Fox; R Brennan 0-1, R McNamee, M McEvoy; R McHugh, G McKinless, S Sheridan; N McKeever, F Burns; T O'Brien, E Rafferty 0-1, E McHugh 0-1; P McBrearty 0-5, 3f, R McAnespie 0-1, M Bradley
Subs: E Donnelly for Rafferty (43), T Clarke for E McHugh (54)
Yellow cards: McKinless (18 & 45), E McHugh (36), McNamee (50)
Black cards: E Donnelly (47, replaced by M Walsh), F Burns (64)
Red cards: McNamee (45)
UCD: C Honan; E Murchin, M Fitzsimons, N McInerney; C Mullaly 0-1, S Coen, J McCaffrey; B O'Sullivan; J Barry 0-1; A McDonnell 0-4, C McCarthy 1-2, E Wallace 0-2; P Mannion 0-7 6f, C Basquel, L Moran
Subs: J Rossiter for McInerney (HT), B McGinn 0-1f, for Moran (HT), T Hayes for McDonnell (56), S O'Dea for Wallace (55), E Lowry for McCarthy (58)
Yellow cards: Moran (27)
Black cards: 0
Red cards: Basquel (45)
Referee: Paudie Hughes (Armagh)