Maynooth navigate way past Ulster University in Fitzgibbon Cup
Fitzgibbon Cup Group D: Ulster University 0-7 Maynooth University 4-23
THEIR team bus may have taken a wrong turn on the way to Jordanstown yesterday, but Maynooth weren't lacking direction once they had hurls in hand as they brought an abrupt end to Ulster University's Fitzgibbon Cup ambitions.
Maynooth's sat nav had them at Ulster University in good time – the only problem was they had landed at the Coleraine campus, an hour and 20 minutes away, forcing throw-in to be put back an hour from 2pm to 3pm.
The UU players had a puck-about in the sports hall while they waited and, with dark clouds gathering overhead, Maynooth finally arrived at 2.50pm and were straight off the bus and onto the field.
And no sooner had their feet touched the grass than the storm clouds started to gather for UU's hopes of progressing to the last eight of the Fitzgibbon.
Despite a decent opening 10 minutes for UU, in a first half when they had a huge breeze behind them, Maynooth's hurlers soon started to show there was nothing wrong with their internal sat navs as they took the game by the scruff.
Inspired by former Galway U21 captain Brian Molloy - who finished up with 1-13 to his name - and the excellent Kilkenny star Padraig Walsh, Maynooth stormed into a six-point lead at half-time.
They continued to pile on the misery after the break as UU failed to muster a score, chasing what looked a lost cause from early on.
Boss Ollie Bellew cut a demoralised figure afterwards, but wasn't about to use the delayed start as an excuse.
“If anybody was going to suffer from sitting on a bus for three hours and coming out without a warm-up, it should've been them,” he said.
“We had the time here and maybe that led to a bit of complacency, I don't know. I've no explanation for what happened, it was just an absolute disaster.”
Coming on the back of a spirited performance in defeat to a star-studded University College Cork side last week, Bellew had every right to expect better.
He added: “We knew they could play, we knew they were good, but I just can't understand what went wrong today. I've no idea whatsoever.
“I was confident we would get a performance on the back of Cork. We never spoke about winning, about anything else. But to go from doing what we did in Cork and trying to tighten up on the mistakes we made down there, I'm just genuinely lost for words.”
A penalty from Nicky McKeague put UU 1-2 to 0-3 after nine minutes but Maynooth played smartly against the elements, patiently working their way up the field with short, accurate passes before striking in deadly fashion once they got sight of the posts.
When Niall Kenny bagged their first goal of the day, followed a minute later by their second through Daragh Egerton, Ulster University faced an uphill battle.
Despite the wind blowing down the pitch, Molloy was unerringly accurate either from placed balls or play, and their 2-10 to 0-7 half-time lead was well deserved.
Five points in the opening five minutes after the break ended the game as a contest, Molloy getting the goal his play deserved to extend the Maynooth lead before Eoin Kenny bagged their final major of the day to make it 4-19 to 0-7 as they coasted across the finish line, tagging on scores at will.
No doubt the bus journey home was more enjoyable that the turbulent road that took them to Jordanstown yesterday as Liam Hogan's men now look ahead to next week's tussle with UCC.
UU: S Doherty; A Orchin, G Walsh, T O Ciaran; T Burns, C Johnson, R Brannigan; M Dudley (0-1), J McGreevey; K Rice (0-1), D McKernan, J Connolly (0-1); N McKeague (0-2), D Nugent (0-2, 0-1 free), A Dooey (1-0, pen). Subs: L Dunphy for K Rice (42), R Gillen for N McKeague (42)
Yellow cards: J McGreevey (37)
Maynooth: B Hogan; E Moloney, P Smith, M Campion; K Sheridan, P Deegan, R Donohue; C Breen, D Burke (0-2); D Egerton (1-0), P Walsh (0-5), N Kenny (1-0); B Molloy (1-13, 0-7 frees, 0-1 65), MJ Lalor (0-2), E Kenny (1-0). Subs: G Egan for C Breen (49), S O'Brien (0-1) for E Kenny (49), E Lawless for E Moloney (54), F Bass for M Lalor (55)
Referee: K Brady (Louth)