UCC’s reward for beating NUIG at Mallow last weekend is a place in Wednesday’s Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup final against St Mary’s, Belfast, in Portlaoise at 7.30pm.
The Ulster students created a major shock in dethroning UCD in the other semi-final, though UCC captain Cian Kiely wasn’t that surprised.
The popular money was on a Cork-Dublin showdown, the two fancied sides from the outset, but St Mary’s put an end to that and will be formidable opponents in the decider.
“They are a fine side, champions a couple of years ago. St Mary’s are strong,” he said.
A howling wind blew straight down the pitch which made the toss more than interesting.
“I actually lost it,” added Kiely, who gave nothing away in what his decision would have been had we won it. It doesn’t matter now. We won and I’m not giving away my secrets at this stage,” Kiely joked.
Galway played with it from the start, but a couple of Sean O’Shea goals put them on the back foot.
“The main thing in the first-half was working the ball through the hands because the wind was so strong.
“Shooting for points was impossible in those conditions and Sean’s two goals were just a fantastic boost for us.”
College turned around a point to the good, but all hopes of a routine semi-final victory were shattered within a minute of the resumption, when Galway’s John Maher cracked in a super goal.
“We’re strong all over the pitch and even though they got an early goal, we scored our third goal almost straight away.
“I thought we reacted well to situations and the players did a great job, including Conor’s goal after they had cut the lead to a point.”
Geaney popped up at the far post to punch home Paudie Clifford’s well-weighted pass for a 4-9 to 1-13 lead after 52 minutes.
And despite late Galway pressure with marksman Martin Daly accurate from frees, UCC managed to keep their goal intact even with three minutes tacked on for injuries and substitutions.
“It’s a great feeling to be in a Sigerson final. We knew it was going to be a very, very hard game because Galway have fantastic players all over the pitch.
“One concern we had was that we had two relatively easy games coming in and we hadn’t been really tested yet. It was a good, physical game.”
Last season, Galway stunned College in the quarter-final at the Mardyke, but College’s nose for goals on this occasion proved the difference.