GAA Football

Video: St Mary's College improve in second-half to defeat NUI Galway in Sigerson Cup

St Mary's Brian Óg McGilligan gets away with the ball during Tuesday's game in Glenavy
Picture by Hugh Russell 
Cahair O'Kane in Glenavy

Sigerson Cup first round: St Mary’s College 1-9 NUI Galway 1-7

“THERE’S no point in playing if you fear the Dublin colleges” was the attitude of St. Mary’s after they turned in a vastly improved second half to edge out NUI Galway in an entertaining Sigerson Cup opener yesterday.

Paddy Tally will take his charges to Dublin for a quarter-final meeting with 2015 winners and last year’s beaten finalists DCU knowing it will represent a considerable step up.

What Niall Moyna would have seen from his viewpoint in Glenavy may not have unduly concerned him but at half-time, St Mary’s would have taken any manner of a victory.

The one they eventually took was laced in grit as they dug their claws in after half-time and took firm control of the game, led by the excellent Oisin O’Neill at midfield.

The Crossmaglen youngster was a constant presence on the ball throughout and with Tyrone pair Conor Meyler and Cathal McShane also to the fore, the teacher training college overturned a three-point deficit to win by two.

“I think we played with a fair bit more intensity but thinking a lot more about the game,” said Tally of his side’s second half display.

“We played smarter in the second half, even though we still made a lot of mistakes and threw away a lot of possession. But certainly we had enough of the second half to win the game. We were three down and really had to fight for that. The greatest thing is the spirit. They don’t believe they’re ever going to get beat,” said the former Tyrone and Derry coach.

St Mary’s had gotten off to the perfect start as well, when Matt Fitzpatrick was on hand to bundle home a third minute goal at the near post. Antrim’s Owen Gallagher produced a fist-pumping celebration to the point with which he instantly replied, setting the tone for a game with plenty of needle and physicality, yet had all but one of its 18 scores from play.

Damien Comer was unsurprisingly the target for NUIG’s diagonal approach and he did have a bit of joy, breaking a few in front of himself, but he was largely well shackled by Dromintee’s Aaron McKay.

Cathal McShane was playing as a one-man forward line for the Belfast side for most of the first half but the ploy started to unravel midway through as the visitors began to take command.

Three scores in four minutes either side of a McShane response drew the sides level at 1-2 to 0-5 before NUIG hit the net on 20 minutes. The diagonal ball was again effective and Comer popped the pass nicely into the run of Owen Gallagher, who steadied to fire emphatically past Mark Reid.

The same man added the next point six minutes later, though a score from McShane before the break helped steady the ship – as did some harsh words in an impromptu huddle before they headed for the changing room.

Trailing by 1-6 to 1-3, there was a different attitude to the eventual winners from the restart. Kevin McKernan was given licence to push on from the sweeping role, while the introductions of Conall McCann and Brian Óg McGilligan helped around the middle.

Ciaran Corrigan kicked two quick points and might have had a goal only for a wonderful, brave save from the impressive O’Malley, who spread himself to deny a point-blank thunderbolt.

Oisin O’Neill carved his way along the endline to fist over and level the sides at 1-6 all on 39 minutes but NUIG struck back when Michael Daly pushed them ahead again some seven minutes later.

Some particularly rash shot selection in the second half was a large part of the undoing of Maurice Sheridan’s side. Kevin McKernan fisted over to level and Conall McCann put St Mary’s ahead with five to play. The lead was kept intact by a brilliant Kyle Mallon block on Aaron Gallagher.

Oisin O’Neill took a great mark from the final St Mary’s kickout and that sprung a move that finished with Darragh Kavanagh slotting over to seal the win.

University Ulster Jordanstown 2-15 Garda College 0-13 (AET)

A BRACE of extra-time goals eventually eased UUJ home against a stubborn Garda College at Templemore yesterday.

In what was a tight and competitive game, the northern students were guilty of passing up a host of chances in normal time. They finally broke the will of their opponents in the extra period, when Ryan McHugh and Michael McEvoy both plundered majors.

UUJ, for whom Donegal star Paddy McBrearty knocked over an impressive seven points – six from frees, looked like they had the result in safe keeping in regulation time.

Late in the action, they had three points to spare over their hosts, but an additional period of play was forced by points from Seamus Carroll and Eoin Cleary, with the last of them arriving deep in stoppage time.

Garda could not, however, take advantage of the reprieve and could only register one more score – a terrific effort from Cleary from out on the left wing. Both UUJ’s goals were fisted to the net. Firstly, McHugh finished off a move involving Mark Bradley and Niall Madine, before McEvoy was the last man to touch the ball in another fine move involving McBrearty, Cathal Boylan and Madine.

The game was not without incident, and in the second half, the referee flashed three red cards– two for UU and one for garda.


St Mary’s:
M Reid; J Brannigan, A McKay, K Mallon; C Byrne, M O’Hare, C Meyler (0-1); D McConville, O O’Neill (0-1); C Corrigan (0-2), K McKernan (0-1), S McConville; J Colton, M Fitzpatrick (1-0), C McShane (0-2); Subs: C McCann (0-1) for Colton (23), R Mooney for O’Hare (23), B Óg McGilligan for McConville (h-t), D Kavanagh (0-1) for Fitzpatrick (41), C Mac Iomhair for Brannigan (50), C Quinn for Corrigan (50)
NUIG: T O’Malley; S Brennan, E O’Donoghue, A O’Connor; S Kelly, K McDonnell, L Burke; E Tierney, P Cooke; S Conroy, M Daly (0-2), A Gallagher (0-2, 0-1 free); R Greene (0-1), D Comer (0-1), O Gallagher (1-1); Subs: J Donoghue for Conroy (23), M McClean for Kelly (30), R Forde for McClean (51), C Bonner for A Gallagher (52), D McCormack for Gallagher (55), C Kelly for McDonnell (58)
Referee: P Faloon (Down)

Scorers for UU: P McBrearty 0-7 (6f), N Madine 0-4, R McHugh 1-1, E Rafferty 0-3, M McEvoy 1-0

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