IT Carlow 3-9 UCC 0-14
UCC’s dreams of retaining the Sigerson Cup for the first time in a quarter of a century were blown out of the water in Carlow, when a slow start cost them dearly against the home side.
A hotly-fancied IT Tralee side fell victim to Pat Critchley’s Carlow students in the previous round but it seemed as if UCC hadn’t really heeded the lesson of that result as they struggled to get out of the blocks and match the pace of their hosts in the early exchanges. An absolutely immaculate surface greeted the players and IT Carlow took full advantage as they moved the ball quickly into danger men Evan Lowry and Cian Farrell up front.
Some poor finishing meant that the game was tied at just a point each when IT Carlow made their first real breakthrough after 12 minutes. Farrell, who may yet feature for his native Offaly in Saturday’s Allianz League clash with Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, played in an excellent low ball into big full forward Padraig O’Toole and while Eoghan O’Brien got a hand on the Wicklow man’s shot, he didn’t get enough to stop it bouncing up and into the net.
Laois attacker Evan Lowry soon tapped in a second goal and when Farrell added another couple of points, one from a mark and one free, suddenly IT Carlow were eight points to the good, 2-4 to 0-2.
Somewhat ironically, one of the best players on the field for the home team was a Cork man, Ballinascarthy’s Seán Ryan, who made several key plays including winning the turnover that led to the first IT Carlow goal.
A great score from a mark by Killian Spillane shifted momentum and UCC cut the gap to five points by half time. Yet it was evident that manager Billy Morgan still was far from happy as he brought on four half-time substitutes.
That seemed to pay dividends as Sean Powter got on some good ball, David Shaw hit two excellent points, and Kerry panellist Diarmuid O’Connor proved influential at midfield.
Points from Farrell kept IT Carlow’s noses in front but when UCC fired three points in two minutes to draw level with 12 minutes of normal time remaining, it looked as if they had ridden out the storm and were set to advance.
They were completely on top now, with Diarmuid O’Connor getting on a lot of ball at midfield while Mark Cronin, Sean Powter and Killian Spillane all carried plenty of ball in towards the forward line. David Shaw offered a serious physical presence close to goal, and few would have backed IT Carlow to effectively go out and win the game a second time.
Yet UCC’s shooting deserted them, as bad shot selection and poor execution meant that in that 12-minute period, they shot five wides and no points. Even Sean O’Shea was guilty of two poor wides in that time, as the champions left the door open for an upset – and IT Carlow duly accepted the invitation.
Two frees from Farrell edged them back in front and with UCC chasing the game in stoppage time, they made the win save through a second goal from Padraig O’Toole, slammed in after Evan Lowry led a breakaway move following a turnover at midfield.
There was still time for Diarmuid O’Connor to fire over one last point as he shot for goal from 25 metres out but let his kick fly a fraction too high.
At that stage the ship had sailed and nothing only a long and forlorn bus journey home remained for the group that 12 months previously, recorded a 4-21 to 0-5 victory over the same opposition in this fixture.
Scorers for IT Carlow: Cian Farrell 0-7 (0-4 f, 0-1 m), Padraig O’Toole 2-0, Evan Lowry 1-2.
Scorers for UCC: Sean O’Shea 0-4 (0-2 f), Mark Cronin 0-3 (0-1 f), David Shaw 0-2 (0-1 m), Killian Spillane (m), Rory Cunningham, Brian Hartnett, Daniel O’Brien, Diarmuid O’Connor 0-1 each.
IT CARLOW: Killian Roche; Trevor Collins, Richard Hitchcock, Josh Moore; Cathal Walsh, Ronan Ryan, Conor Doyle; Niall Hughes, Sean Ryan (Ballinascarthy); Chris Byrne, Adam Steed, Padraig O'Toole; Cian Farrell, Jack Walsh, Evan Lowry.
Subs: Patrick O'Connor for Hitchcock (52), Tommy Griffin for Ryan (54), Gearóid Murphy for Steed (57), Paul Farrelly for Walsh (57).
UCC: Eoghan O'Brien; Liam O'Donovan (Clonakilty), Graham O'Sullivan, Cian Gammell; Padraig Feehan, Daniel O'Brien, James McEntee; Padraig Lucey, Brian Hartnett (Douglas); James Naughton, Seán O'Shea, Colm O'Callaghan (Éire Óg); Mark Cronin (Nemo Rangers), Rory Cunningham, Killian Spillane.
Subs used: Dylan Casey for Feehan (half-time), Sean Powter (Douglas) for O’Callaghan (half-time), Diarmuid O'Connor for Lucey (half-time), David Shaw for Naughton (half-time), Gary Murphy (Castletownbere) for Cunningham (54).
Referee: Patrick Maguire (Longford)