All Ireland Junior College Final Match Report
All Ireland Junior football final
By Michael O Connor
NUI Galway rounded off a busy GAA season by capturing the All Ireland Junior football title with a six point win over UCD in a perfectly prepared Clan Na Gael grounds in Roscommon. The Galway college suffered a major pregame blow with influential wingback Stephen Metcalfe losing out due to injury whilst UCD lost dominant midfielder Aaron Breen in the warm up. This season was one of the strongest for the Galway college with appearances in all bar one of the adult third level finals. NUI Galway were under the cosh early on as an impressive start by UCD led to opening scores from Tom Dalton and a booming 50 metre punt by centre back Evan Whelan. Indeed for most of the first half the hard running and athletic forward division of UCD caused NUI Galway numerous problems and only for a goal line clearance by NUI Galway and half a dozen speculative UCD efforts that went wide it could have been a different final result. NUI Galway finally got on the scoresheet after Adam O Donoghues’ effort skimmed the crossbar. By the 12th minute two successful efforts by Francis Devitt gave the Western college the lead. The game’s top scorer Matthew Bennett opened his account before impressive Galway college netminder Darragh Fallon sent over a long range free that was replicated by Niall McSweeney in the UCD goal after 24 minutes.
The final piece of action of the first half fell to UCD who sent over a free as they would have been content to be just in deficit by the minimum, (0-5) to (0-4). NUI Galway for their part were dependant on Killian Golden, Eoin Cleary, Darragh Fallon, Matthew Bennett and Adam O Donoghue for inspiration. The dearth of first half scores did not do justice to the efforts of two well motivated sides and straight after the throw in Barry Kehoe had the sides on level terms.
NUI Galway were beginning to look slightly more dominant and with scores from Adam O Donoghue and Francis Devitt once more reopened a two point lead. A further score from Tom Dalton had UCD dreaming of success as now they seized the initiative but again spurned scoring chances between the 37th and 45th minutes.
Three goals in three minutes turned the game on its head and from a NUI Galway perspective they were fortunate that two goals fell to Matthew Bennett in one minute as they surged (2-7) to (0-6) clear entering the final ten minutes of the second half. When it appeared that the game was over as a contest Thomas Cullen grabbed a deserved UCD goal in the 51st minute. Three minutes later Ciaran McNulty narrowed the UCD deficit to just a goal and indeed NUI Galway were on the backfoot. Ten more minutes action including injury time was experienced and only one score. This score settled the contest as NUI Galway were awarded a penalty and it was Conor Moriarty made no mistake and NUI Galway were champions.
The winners were served well by Darragh Fallon, Eoin Greavy, Eoin Cleary, Brian McDonnell, Kyle Sloan, Adam O Donoghue, Shane McCarthy, man of the hour Cillian Golden, Matthew Barrett and Francis Devitt. UCD needed goals and with 11 wides they stunted their challenge despite solid efforts from Niall McSweeney, Cormac McGuigan, Tom Browne, Tom Dalton, Evan Whelan, Ciaran McNulty, Cian Jones, Thomas Cullen and Cualin McSeain.
NUIGALWAY: Darragh Fallon (Claremorris, Mayo) (0-1), James Monagle (Carndonagh, Donegal), Eoin Greavy (Bonniconlon, Mayo), Oran Gallagher (Moygownagh, Mayo) Eoin Cleary (St Patricks, Carlow), Kyle Sloan (Glautier, Waterford), Brian McDonnell (Kilcar, Donegal), Adam O Donoghue (Castleisland Desmonds, Kerry)(0-2), Paul McGroddy (native of Louisburgh and currently plays for Na Dunaibh, Donegal), Shane McCarthy (John Mitchels, Kerry), Cillian Golden (Balla, Mayo), Matthew Bennett (Rosenalis, Laois) (2-1) , Francis Devitt (Drumkerrin, Leitrim)(0-3) Kevin Horgan (Oranmore Maree,Galway), Brian Kelly (Cashel, Longford).
SubsL Colin Moriarty (Dingle, Kerry) (1-0) for McGroddy,, James O Donnell (Belmullet, Mayo) for Kelly, Jack Brennan (Charlestown, Mayo) for Barrett, Patrick Maher (St Mary’s Sligo) for Devitt, Jonathan McHugh (Ardara, Donegal) for Horgan.
UCD: Niall McSweeney (Waterford)(0-1), Rian Oates (Moycullen, Galway), Cormac McGuigan (Louth), Adam Hanratty (Louth), Matt Banville (Wexford), Evan Whelan (Louth) (0-1), Tom Browne (Kildare), Liam O Braonain (Carlow), Culainn McSeain (Corafean, Cavan), Cian Jones (Dublin), Tom Dalton (Waterford) (0-3), Barry Kehoe (Kildare) (0-1), Ciaran McNulty (Monaghan) (0-1), Philip Rodgers (Cavan), Thomas Cullen (Kildare)(1-0). Subs: David Madden (Kilkerrin/Clonberne, Galway) for Jones, EoinShortall (Westmeath) for Banville, Odran Dooley (Ballinasloe, Galway) for Rodgers,
Referee: Aaron Clogher (Padraig Pearses)
After the game NUIGalway GAA Officer Michael O Connor presented the All Ireland Junior football cup to winning NUIGalway captain Shane McCarthy.