UUJ were left to question the value of their participation in the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup when they were clinically outgunned by a committed, superbly fit UCC side in the Sigerson Cup yesterday at the Parnells club complex in Coolock, Dublin
The Cork team’s 1-14 to 0-9 triumph testified to the authority they revealed for lengthy segments of the contest, never more so than in the opening minutes when they reeled off a staccato-fire scoring burst that saw them grab 1-4 which left the Belfast side chasing the game from that stage onwards.
Indeed, when Kerry player Peter Crowley tucked away the only goal of the game, he merely emphasised the gulf between the sides.
“We left ourselves with too much to do by the half-way stage. The elements were unreal and this is indicated by the fact that UCC scored only a point after the break,” said UUJ Development Officer Paul Rouse.
“Our team could not be faulted in terms of effort and courage but on the day UCC were just too strong in vital areas.”
Yet UUJ can justifiably claim that lady luck did not smile on them. UCC were able to maximise their mini-tornado advantage in the first-half to assemble a 1-13 to 0-2 lead by half-way — the point of no return for their opponents, in fact.
And if Crowley made the initial incision in UUJ’s morale with his goal, it was another Kingdom marksman, Paul Geaney, who inflicted mortal wounds by posting five points before the break while Crowley tacked on a brace of points to complement his goal.
It was left to Kilcoo clubman Paul Devlin to pilfer four points in all for UUJ and although UCC scored only once in the second half when confronted by the gale, their comfortable half-time cushion proved more than enough to see them through.
Dean McNally, axed from the Tyrone squad on Saturday, was UUJ’s outstanding player, his heroics at full-back supported by the endeavour of Derry defender Chrissy McCaigue, who is expected to fill the full-back slot against Galway in the Allianz League on Sunday.
In contrast to UUJ’s ailing fortunes, St Mary’s University College cemented their drive for Sigerson glory by overcoming IT Tralee by 1-15 to 0-9 at Blackwater in Kildare. powered by Tyrone ace Peter Harte, St Mary’s booked their quarter-final place in some style even though they got off to a poor start.
IT Tralee opened brightly to lead by 0-4 to 0-2 at the end of the first quarter but the west Belfast side stirred themselves and with the industrious Harte the fulcrum of their attacking strategy they built up a 0-7 to 0-4 interval lead.
They went on to cement their advantage in the second-half, their dominance particularly marked in the last quarter when they hit 1-5 to secure their comfortable victory.
St Mary’s will confront a much more formidable hurdle in the last eight when they take on UCC but coach Paddy Tally, who trained the first Tyrone team to win an All-Ireland title in 2003, believes his side can take considerable heart from yesterday’s performance.
“We were not all that impressive in the early stages but we recovered well and showed more composure in the second-half.” said Tally.