Football

Niall Loughlin goal proves the crucial score as Ulster University get the better of Maynooth

The northern college will meet UCD in the final, who edged out UL earlier

Niall Loughlin of Ulster University celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Electric Ireland Higher Education GAA Sigerson Cup semi-final match between Ulster University and Maynooth University at Inniskeen Grattans in Monaghan.
Loughlin crop 8 February 2024; Niall Loughlin of Ulster University celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Electric Ireland Higher Education GAA Sigerson Cup semi-final match between Ulster University and Maynooth University at Inniskeen Grattans in Monaghan. Photo by Stephen Marken/Sportsfile (Stephen Marken / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)
Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup semi-final
Maynooth University 0-11 1-13 Ulster University

A RAZOR-SHARP counter-attacking game saw Ulster University get the better of a resilient Maynooth side, as they withstood a poor conversion rate at a windy Inniskeen to progress.

A Niall Loughlin goal was the only green flag of a match played in wintry conditions to say the least in County Monaghan, as 10 scorers chipped in to deny a Darragh Kirwan-less Maynooth.

A beautifully judged Peter Óg McCartan score raised the first white flag, before late change Darragh Canavan joined him on the scoresheet.

Young Meath stars Eoghan Frayne and Ruairí Kinsella began to shine in the absence of Kirwan, while Colin Walsh and Luke Killian outshone their Ulster University counterparts in the middle.

That had put Maynooth 0-6 to 0-3 to the good, but two Ruairí Canavan frees were quickly followed by a superb driving run and finish from Loughlin that all began with a Canavan turnover.

Brother Darragh and Ben McCarron missed further gilt-edged opportunities for goals, and a score from Wicklow ace Tom Moran left only one in it at half-time.

Darragh Canavan
Late to the party: Tyrone's Darragh Canavan was a late starter tonight.

Quickfire scores from Oisin McCann and Ben McCarron kick-started the Ulster side’s second half, as Maynooth found the wind tricky at the unguarded far end.

Despite a highly effective counter-attacking strategy, Ulster University weren’t exactly shooting the lights out. Yet another goal chance went abegging courtesy of a less decisive Loughlin, as Shane O’Sullivan put the minimum between them once more with 20 minutes to play.

Darragh Canavan ended a wasteful spell, but Colin Walsh instantly replied with a well-taken effort off the ciotóg.

It was a second half low on quality at times, but traded Charlie Diamond and James Fitzpatrick scores defied the conditions and poor shot-efficiency.

Maynooth refused to go away, although a terrific Darragh Canavan pluck from the skies earned a crucial 60th-minute free, with the forward taking a knock for his troubles.

That eventually pushed the lead out to a more comfortable three points, with subs Danny Fullerton and Eamon Brown notching insurance scores on the break.

In the other semi-final, heavy pre-match favourites UCD edged out last year’s beaten finalists UL by the bare minimum.

A glut of scores saw UL race into a 1-4 to 0-2 lead as the game entered the second quarter, with Paul Keaney helping himself to 1-1 in Carlow.

That was as good as it got, however, with UCD raiding their opposition for a spell that saw them record 1-7 without reply.

That was in spite of Ben O’Carroll’s exit before the break, with Offaly star Cormac Egan filling that particular void and midfielder Jonathon Lynam notching the goal when the latter period was barely a minute old.

Mayo’s Frank Irwin, son of a former Green and Red goalkeeper, led the Limerick side’s revival, but a 53rd-minute Garland goal proved just enough to keep UCD in the ascendency until the death.

Diarmuid Moriarty continued his sparkling early season form, with Roscommon’s Daire Cregg and 2020 Sigerson Player of the Year Davy Garland also proving thorns in UL’s side as the three combined for 1-10 of 2-12.

Scorers

Maynooth Ruairí Kinsella 0-2, Eoghan Frayne 0-2 (1f), Kevin O’Sullivan 0-1, Tom Moran 0-1, Luke Killian 0-1, Shane O’Sullivan 0-2, Colin Walsh 0-1, James Fitzpatrick 0-1

Ulster University Niall Loughlin 1-0, Ruairí Canavan 0-2 (2f), Darragh Canavan 0-2, Oisin McCann 0-2, Ben McCarron 0-2 (1f), Conor Cush 0-1, Peter Óg McCartan 0-1, Charlie Diamond 0-1, Danny Fullerton 0-1, Eamon Brown 0-1

Teams

Maynooth C Burke; T Moran, T McPhillips, R Burke; P McDermott, S Greene, D Scahill; L Killian, C Walsh; K O’Sullivan, S O’Sullivan, S Leech; K O’Neill, E Frayne, R Kinsella

Subs used James Fitzpatrick (31 mins), Aaron Brazil (39 mins), Rian Teehan, (53 mins), James Fitzpatrick (61 mins)

Ulster University R McGeehin; S Donahy, R Boyle, E Magee; P Óg McCartan, R Magill, J Largo Ellis; C Diamond, O McCann; B McCarron, R McCaffrey, C Cush; D Canavan, N Loughlin, R Canavan

Subs used Danny Fullerton (53 mins), Emmett Magee (57 mins), Eamon Brown (61 mins)

Referee Paul Faloon (Down)