UUJ turn up the heat to leave St Mary's dream in ashes
UUJ fired out a warning that they mean business by overcoming holders St Mary's University College in a power-packed second-half display at the Woodlands Playing Fields in Belfast.
The Jordanstown outfit, who paraded a galaxy of inter-county players, won by 0-17 to 1-09 but found the going tough in the first-half when St Mary's proved particularly resilient.
However, when UUJ turned up the heat they strode through imperiously to a last eight tie with University of Limerick.
St Mary's had hoped to make history by retaining the trophy, but they were unable to match the stamina, power and accuracy of their opponents.
While defeat was a bitter disappointment for St Mary's coach Paddy Tally - it brought the curtain down on what has been a fantastic spell for the club - the manner in which UUJ carved out their victory suggests even better days could be ahead.
With Oisin O'Neill and Cathal McShane to the fore, St Mary's built up a 0-7 to 0-6 interval lead, but that was as good as it got.
UUJ took command in the third quarter and flagged 11 points with their opponents managing just two in response.
The St Mary's defence was unable to contain the movement and creativity of Tyrone duo Mark Bradley and Lee Brennan in particular, while Derry aces Danny Tallon and Terence O'Brien made useful contributions.
Darragh Kavanagh and Oisin O'Neill responded with points, while the latter bagged their goal, but their attack as a whole was firmly shackled.
St Mary's cause was not helped by a black card for Liam Devlin, while UUJ's Eoin McHugh's game ended when he was sanctioned in the second-half.
UUJ coach Paul Rouse hailed his team's effort, insisting they had gone into the game facing a huge challenge.
"We knew we were going to be up against it as St Mary's are the Sigerson Cup holders, but there is a tremendous spirit within this side and they maybe carry a little hurt from some things that were said about them," said Rouse.
"I think the players just realised at the halfway stage that they had been guilty of giving the ball away on numerous occasions in what were easy turnovers," said Rouse.
"We knew that St Mary's were going to make life very difficult for us by getting men round the ball carrier when we attacked.
"But our aim in the second half was to go out and execute our game plan better than we had been doing."
Rouse denied he had prevented his players from having access to the media, preferring instead to dwell on what he feels is the 'tight spirit' within his team.
"We decided that we would work together until our Sigerson journey is over," said Rouse. "Our journey could just as easily have ended yesterday. Every round is a tough round in Sigerson football at this time of the year but there is a very tight spirit bonding this group of players.
"Yesterday's match was only moved to a 4G pitch shortly before it was due to start - factors like this can influence things.
"We are up against University of Limerick in the quarter-finals next week and they have been in the last couple of Sigerson Cup semi-finals, so we know the enormity of the task that we must confront."
UUJ scorers: L Brennan 0-6 (4f), M Bradley 0-3, N Madine, R McAnespie 0-2 each, D Gallagher, D Tallon, R McNamee, T O'Brien 0-1 each
St Mary's scorers: O O'Neill 1-4 (3f), C McShane 0-2, N Toner, D Kavanagh, S McConville 0-1 each