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Ranch lose final but win hearts of Sigerson faithful

St Mary's 1-9 UCC0-16

Silver lining: St Mary’s Colm Byrne closes down Padraig Clifford
Silver lining: St Mary’s Colm Byrne closes down Padraig Clifford
UCC captain Cian Kiely lifts the prize

By Conor McKenna

St Mary's lost the final of the Sigerson Cup after Gavin McGilly's side suffered a four point defeat at the hands of UCC.

St Mary's will be frustrated but proud with the manner of this performance, as the local college defended reasonably well in numbers and the game was very even up until the final stages.

UCC had the better players without question and Sean O'Shea was majestic, with the Kerry star registering 0-7 over the course of the game in what was a fantastic individual performance.

A red card in the second half was a killer blow to St Mary's, as they were competing very well up to that point before Aaron Boyle was sent off.

UCC just had more in the tank to enable them to close out the match and St Mary's simply ran out of steam come the closing stages.

It was St Mary's - known as The Ranch - who opened the scoring courtesy of Shane McGuigan's effort in the opening minute.

Team captain Stephen McConville doubled his side's advantage with a short-range free, before Padraig Clifford opened his team's account.

St Mary's opted to operate with Cathair McKinney as a permanent sweeper in order to frustrate UCC, but a place ball effort from the excellent Sean O'Shea levelled procedures.

Points from Graham O'Sullivan and Padraig Lucey gave the Cork college a two point lead, but it was the Ulster side who registered the games opening goal courtesy of Moy's Ryan Coleman.

Coleman hit a speculative ball into the forward line, which beat the goalkeeper and made it's way into the back of the net.

O'Shea responded with a free for UCC to level procedures before Stephen McConville restored his side's advantage.

An outstanding effort from O'Shea brought the sides level and St Mary's were opting to bring 15 players behind the ball at times, which made life very difficult for the UCC forward line.

Corner back Graham O'Sullivan fired his team ahead with an excellent effort and two further scores from Sean O'Shea gave UCC a 0-9 to 1-3 lead at the interval.

It was O'Shea who opened the second half scoring with a short-range free which was cancelled out by a score from Mary's corner back Michael Rooney.

McGuigan and Cian Kiely traded scores before an excellent effort from Ryan McCusker reduced the deficit to two.

The gap had been down to one point before St Mary's were dealt a major blow when Aaron Boyle was sent off to leave his side a man down heading into the final quarter.

An excellent effort from Shane McGuigan brought his side level though, before it was cancelled out by a fabulous strike from O'Shea.

Three successive points increased UCC's lead to three points and at this stage momentum was with the Cork outfit and they were in poll position to close out the match.

A great score from McGuigan reduced the deficit to three but the southern college held on to lift the trophy, with a late point from Conal O'Hainifin the icing on the cake as his side were crowned champions, after a solid and very efficient performance.

St Mary's are an inspiration to every team in Ireland, no matter club, county or college, as to how to make the most out of limited playing resources.

UCC may have won the competition, but St Mary's were the story of the Sigerson Cup, as the west Belfast side came very close to being crowned champions for the second time in three years.

UCC: M White; M Flood, K Flahive, G O'Sullivan (0-2); D O'Brien, B Begley, C Kiely (0-1); P Lucey (0-1), J Kennedy; P Clifford (0-2), S O'Shea (0-7, 5f), C Horgan; C Geaney, K Spillane, E Courtney.

Subs: D Shaw for Horgan (h-t), J Naughton (0-1) for Courtney (52), E Finnerty for Spillane (52), G Murphy (0-1) for Geaney, C O'Hainifin (0-1) for O'Brien (60).

ST MARY'S: M Reid; L Rafferty, C Dillon, M Rooney (0-1); C Byrne, R McCusker (0-1), A Duffy; J Og Burns, L Devlin; S McConville (0-3, 3fs), S McGuigan (0-4, 1f), A Boyle; N Toner, R Coleman (1-0), C McKinney.

Subs: D McKinless for Byrne (53)

Referee: D Gough (Meath).

Belfast Telegraph

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