Patrick McBrearty to the fore in UU win over Garda College
Sigerson Cup round one: Ulster University 2-14 Garda College 0-11
THE two goals scored made a big difference for Ulster University - but so did the ‘goal’ denied to Garda College just five minutes into the second-half.
UU joint-manager Barney McAleenan hailed Sean Fox’s penalty save from visiting free-taker Daithi Shannon, which prevented the Gardai narrowing the gap to just three points. Last year’s Tyrone U21 ’keeper has held on to the number one jersey ahead of Monaghan senior Rory Beggan, and his spot-kick stop was a key moment for McAleenan.
“That was a turning point, Sean Fox making a very, very good save… Rory was involved with Scotstown, so Sean played in the Ryan Cup and has done very well.”
The men in black had both numerical and wind advantages at that stage, the Jordanstown lads having lost defender Rory Brennan to a red card for striking in the 25th minute. However, they made light of being a player short and, inspired by Armagh’s Ethan Rafferty, went on to score a second goal themselves in the 57th minute, Mayo’s Evan Regan adding to Donegal star Patrick McBrearty’s first-half strike.
That came in the sixth minute, when Antrim’s impressive Niall McKeever took a fine catch, then Rafferty found Ryan McHugh bearing down on goal. His decision to pass left seemed strange but he had made the right choice, his Kilcar clubmate lashing the ball left-footed into the far corner.
When McBrearty took his tally to 1-3 in the 10th minute with a point from play, for a five-point lead, UU seemed well set, especially as Shannon missed a couple of scoreable frees. But Roscommon man Colin Compton kicked two good points and Shannon scored his third free to leave just the goal between the teams.
Then Brennan unnecessarily got involved in a sideline schemozzle, clashing with his opposite number Philip Smith, and referee Paudie Hughes dismissed him, ruling the Tyrone back out of next week’s quarter-final against local rivals St Mary’s University College.
UU’s response was excellent, though, with Rafferty pointing, followed by Cavan’s Killian Clarke powering forward to do likewise, and Donegal man Peter McGee wasted a good chance on the counter-attack in added time so that the hosts led by 1-7 to 0-5 at the interval.
Jordanstown had withdrawn Monaghan’s Ryan McAnespie into defence after losing Brennan and he swept up well and broke forward effectively, while substitute Frank Burns also came on and used possession wisely.
McAleenan wasn’t altogether surprised at the second-half showing, commenting: “Very often good footballers play better against the wind and we certainly did today…We tended to run the ball more in the second half, controlled the ball more, and tried to find the shooters.”
The Ulster side really should have pulled clear early in the second period when McKeever and McBrearty linked up to find Regan in acres of room but his goalbound shot was spectacularly pushed round the post by a flying save from Garda corner-back Gearoid Farren.
Rafferty did at least convert the subsequent 45, but the six-point lead could have been halved moments later. Home skipper Stephen Sheridan slid in and brought down Compton as he raced clear. Shannon struck the spot-kick low to his right but the quick Fox leapt to his left and parried the effort. A defender was adjudged to have touched the ball on the ground, but Gerard Haran’s conversion of the free must have seemed like little benefit to the Gardai.
Still, they did reduce the deficit to four points by the 42nd minute, 1-10 to 0-9, with big Brendan Murphy pushing further forward, only for UU to take complete control. Rafferty was to the fore, scoring a free and a point, then sending the ball in towards the square for Regan to flick to the net.
That made it a burst of 1-4 from the hosts and although Murphy – before his late dismissal for a combination of yellow and black cards – and Conor Shields did reply, the outcome was not in doubt by then.
“We have a big challenge awaiting us in the quarter-final,” concluded McAleenan.
“There’s plenty of improving to be done”.
UU: S Fox; R Johnston, K Clarke (0-1), R Brennan; R McHugh (0-1 free), R McNamee, S Sheridan (capt.); N McKeever, M Argue (0-1); C Grugan (0-1), E Rafferty (0-4, 0-1 45, 0-1 free), D Savage; E Regan (1-0), R McAnespie, P McBrearty (1-6, 0-5 frees). Subs: F Burns for Savage (42), C Clarke for Rafferty (58), S McArdle for Argue (60); Yellow cards: Sheridan (25); Clarke (44); Red card: Brennan (25).
Garda College: C Kenerick; G Farren, G Petit, P Smith; B Devlin, S O’Malley (capt.), BJ Molloy; P McGee, B Murphy (0-2); C Shields (0-1), P Morris, B O’Hare; C Compton (0-3), D Shannon (0-4, frees), G Haran (0-1, free). Subs: M Holland for Morris (h-t), J Kerrigan for O’Hare (41), P Fallon for Devlin (53), J Kearney for Molloy (60). Yellow cards: Petit (9), Morris (15), Haran (25), Murphy (45);
Black card: Murphy (61); Red card: Murphy (61 - yellow and black cards).
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).