Maynooth University 0-19
It was a close-run thing but UCC ultimately got their Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup journey off to a winning start at the Mardyke on Tuesday night.
Injury time points from Shane Barrett and Niall O’Leary secured the victory for the hosts after Pierce Blanchfield had capped a fine comeback for 14-player Maynooth University, who had clawed back what had been a seven-point deficit early in the second half.
Despite the advantage in terms of manpower, UCC – without Jack O’Connor, who had scored 1-2 in the first half – struggled to make that count in the second period while Maynooth grew in confidence the closer they came.
To their credit, UCC did ensure that a goal for the visitors never looked likely and the win goes a long way towards securing a place in the knockout stages – Maynooth host UCD next week before the Cork college go to Belfield in a fortnight.
Successive points from Conor Drennan (sideline), Conor Kelly and Billy Drennan had Maynooth 0-5 to 0-3 in front by the 12th minute but UCC tied the game through a pair of Jack O’Connor scores, sandwiching goal opportunities for Shane Barrett and Cormac O’Brien – blocked by Mark Donnelly and off the post, respectively.
UCC got on top after that, with Luke Elliott good in defence, and two Robbie Cotter frees had them 0-8 to 0-6 ahead before Shane Barrett, who had just been denied by Niall Holland, forced a turnover and fed Cotter, who set up O’Connor for a well-taken goal.
They might have had another coming up to half-time as Daniel Hogan was fouled for a penalty but Cotter’s shot went over the bar. Moments later, Donnelly – who had been booked for the penalty – received a second caution and Maynooth’s task was made tougher.
A 1-11 to 0-8 interval advantage was stretched as Cahalane got his second after the restart but UCC would only score four more points before the end of normal time.
Maynooth belied their shortage of players as Billy Drennan remained accurate from frees and his brother Conor landed a huge one from his own 45.
They were within a score when Billy Drennan got his eighth on 52 minutes with impressive sub Emmet Landy getting his third to leave the minimum in it.
UCC’s Cathal McCarthy looked to have given them breathing space but he was blown for over-carrying and Maynooth were level moments later through Blanchfield. However, the hosts had enough in response.
Scorers for UCC: R Cotter 0-6 (0-5f, 0-1 pen), S Barrett 0-5, J O’Connor 1-2, C Cahalane 0-2, C O’Brien, S Daly, N O’Leary 0-1 each.
Maynooth University: B Drennan 0-8f, E Landy 0-3, C Drennan (0-1f, 0-1sl), A Hickey 0-2 each, P Blanchfield, L Hogan, C Kelly, C Fogarty 0-1 each.
UCC (Cork clubs unless stated): B Saunderson (Midleton); C McCarthy (Sarsfields), N O’Leary (Castlelyons), J Boylan (Na Piarsaigh, Limerick); L Elliott (Sarsfields), E Roche (Bride Rovers), R Downey (Glen Rovers); E Carey (Kilworth), S Daly (Randal Óg); C Cahalane (St Finbarr’s), D Hogan (Sarsfields), C O’Brien (Newtownshandrum); J O’Connor (Sarsfields), S Barrett (Blarney), R Cotter (Blackrock).
Subs: B Hayes (St Finbarr’s) for O’Connor (half-time), D Flynn (Ballygiblin) for Carey (37).
MAYNOOTH UNIVERSITY: N Holland; D Fogarty, E Molloy, M Donnelly; J Young, C Boran, L Cassin; A Hickey, P Blanchfield; B Drennan, L Hogan, C Drennan; C Fogarty, C Boyle, C Kelly.
Subs: E Landy for Kelly (half-time), L McHale for B Drennan (54, injured), N Bolger for Blanchfield (60).
Referee: T Walsh (Waterford):