Sigerson Cup: St Mary's reach first final in 24 years

February 17, 2017

St Mary's Stephen McConville (in possession) and Conor Meyler with Kevin Crowley of UCC.
©INPHO/James Crombie.

St Mary's 2-7
UCC 2-6

St Mary's stunned UCC this afternoon at the Connacht Centre of Excellence to advance to their first Sigerson Cup final since 1993.

Paddy Tally's side recovered from the concession of two early goals to lead by 1-6 to 2-2 at half-time and although they fell behind again in the second-half, Ciaran Corrigan's 51st minute strike and a late Cory Quinn point secured their path to tomorrow's final as UCC finished the game with 13 men.

It took the Cork students six minutes to make an incredible start to this semi-final, bagging two goals in the space of 10 seconds via Rebels midfielder Ian Maguire and Cathal Bambury.

Bambury's goal arrived as the result of a mis-cued short kick-out from 'keeper Mark Reid and the Dingle clubman made sure to take full advantage with the finish, which had the umpire quickly reaching again for his green flag.

UCC's two goals in the space of 10 seconds! Video by Jerome Quinn Media for Higher Education GAA.

St Mary's response to such a disastrous start was a brilliant one, rattling off 1-3 without reply to leave the sides level within 10 minutes, and it was brace of frees from Kieran McGeary that had the Belfast lads back believing.

Crossmaglen's Oisin O'Neill, operating at centre-field, fired over the trailers' third from a free a minute later and by the 16th minute the ball would be in UCC's net after an O'Neill shot came off the bar and Matthew Fitzpatrick was quickest to tuck away the rebound.

Bambury nudged Billy Morgan's men back in front but it was the Saints that possessed all the momentum at this stage, as Fitzpatrick and O'Neill lofted over scores for their first lead on 28 minutes that drew a mighty roar from their travelling support.

Cork's Brian O'Driscoll squared matters for a third time prior to Conall McCann, younger brother of Tyrone star Tiernan, being black-carded for a foul on Stephen Cronin.

St Mary's still managed to take in the lead at the half however, with O'Neill's second point from play, and third over of the afternoon, leaving them in front by the bare minimum at the break.

UCC had a stiff breeze to operate with in the second-half and got three unanswered points in its first 17 minutes, with a brace (one a free) coming from Killian Spillane - nephew of Kerry legend Pat - either side of O'Driscoll splitting the uprights.

St Mary's lost McGeary to a black card in the meantime and they were chasing the game until they fashioned a brilliant sweeping move which had Corrigan rising highest to palm past Micheál Martin and into UCC's net.

Ciaran Corrigan's goal for St Mary's in the 51st minute. Video by Jerome Quinn Media for Higher Education GAA.

Seven tense minutes followed before Quinn demonstrated nerves of steel to drive over a colossal point for Tally's charges, doubling the lead as the game approached injury-time.

UCC lost Adrian Spillane and Alan O'Donovan to red cards in the late minutes and could only manage an O'Driscoll free in the dying stages, which left them one short and St Mary's, who last won this competition in 1989 against the same opposition, with a final berth to savour.

St Mary's - M Reid; R Mooney, A McKay, K Mallon; C Byrne, K McGeary (0-2f), A Nugent; C Corrigan (1-0), O O'Neill (0-3, 2f); K McKernan, B Og McGilligan, S McConville; C McCann, M Fitzpatrick (1-1), C McShane. Subs: C Quinn (0-1) for C McCann (BC), C MacIomhair for K McGeary (BC), D Kavanagh for B Og McGilligan.

UCC - M Martin; C Begley, F Clifford, J Foley; K Crowley, S Cronin, T O'Sullivan; I Maguire (1-0), R O'Toole; B O'Driscoll (0-3, 1f), A Spillane, J Kennedy; R Buckley, K Spillane (0-2f), C Bambury (1-1). Subs: K Flahive for C Begley, A O'Donovan for R O'Toole, S Sherlock for R Buckley.

Referee - J Molloy.

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