Penalty shoot-out agony for St Mary's in Sigerson Cup quarter-final
Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup quarter-final
St Mary's 1-10 UCC 1-10 (after extra-time, UCC won 3-2 on penalties)
THERE was heartbreak for St Mary's University College last night as they became the second Ulster side in the space of seven days to lose out to UCC in the Sigerson Cup on a penalty shoot-out at the National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown.
Having produced heroics against Queen's University just seven days earlier, UCC netminder Dylan Foley pulled off three outstanding saves from the spot on this occasion. Foley's opposite number Charlie Smyth and Darragh Trainor did rattle the net, but the Belfast side were ultimately denied a spot in the last four.
Following traded scores from Shane Merritt and Mary's wing-forward Conor McConville at the start of the contest, UCC bagged a goal through Cathal O'Mahony with seven minutes gone on the clock. Cormac Murphy kicked a fine point on the run, before UCC reinforced their authority with consecutive scores by Killian Falvey and Dylan Geaney.
Jude Campbell raised a white flag to leave the northerners just three points adrift (1-3 to 0-3) at the interval though and they cut even further into their deficit on the resumption with a pointed free from goalkeeper Charlie Smyth. This increased the pressure on UCC, but back-to-back points courtesy of Ruairi Murphy and Fionn Herlihy helped to ease any nerves they might have been experiencing.
Mary's had a similar scoring burst via the boots of Dara O'Callaghan (his first act after coming on as a substitute) and midfielder Michael McCarville, before Bill Curtin strode forward from defence to kick an outstanding point for UCC at a right-hand angle.
Ruairi Murphy was an industrious presence around the middle-third for UCC and he added his second point from distance on the stroke of 50 minutes to offer Billy Morgan's charges some breathing space.
However, Trainor found the range for Mary's to leave the tie delicately poised and with more than five minutes of stoppage-time played, Matt Og McGleenan got on the end of a direct ball inside and fired beyond the reach of Dylan Foley.
While O'Mahony edged UCC back into the ascendancy at the beginning of the additional periods, Armagh duo Louis Hughes and O'Callaghan fired over at the opposite end to give Mary's the lead for the very first time.
This left them with a slender 1-9 to 1-8 cushion heading into the closing 10 minutes of extra-time, but the sin-binning of MacDarragh Hynes did present a temporary numerical advantage to UCC.
Although Mary's wing-back Danny Magee was also black-carded moments after Hynes returned to the action, they appeared set for a dramatic win when a '45' from custodian Charlie Smyth cancelled out an earlier free from O'Mahony.
Yet the latter came to the rescue of UCC with an 86th-minute dead-ball strike and this meant that a penalty battle was required to determine the outcome of the game. It didn't go their way in the end, but St Mary's can nonetheless reflect proudly on the gutsy display they delivered over the course of the action.
St Mary's: Charlie Smyth (0-2, 0-1free, 1 '45'); C Milne, D Trainor (0-1), MD Hynes; C McGettigan, M McCallan, D Magee; M McCarville (0-1), Cormac Smyth; K Burke, M Og McGleenan (1-0), C McConville (0-1 free); C Murphy (0-1, S Donnelly, J Campbell.
Subs: N Burns for Donnelly (h-t), D O'Callaghan (0-2 frees) for Cormac Smyth (41), S Quigley for Campbell (46), R McGrath for Magee (54), L Hughes (0-1) for McConville (61), McConville for Burns (72), Magee for McGrath (75), Cormac Smyth for McGleenan (77)
UCC: D Foley, M Shanley, D O'Mahony, D Bourke; S Merritt (0-1, 45), B Murphy, B Curtin (0-1); R Murphy (0-2), B Hartnett; J Murphy, F Herlihy (0-1), K Flavey (0-1); M Cronin, C O'Mahony (1-3, 0-2 frees), D Geaney (0-1 free).
Subs: M O'Gara for Flavey (44), S O'Connor for Cronin (59), L Wall for Shanley (65), R Quigley for O'Gara (71), Cronin for J Murphy (81).
Referee: B Tiernan (Dublin).