UCC claim Senior Football League Champions 2018

Report by Adrian McGearty

UCC started proceedings with a strong 9/10 Channel of Jack Kennedy and Sean Powter. Both Inter county stars had a mandate to attack for this game. The first few minutes of the encounter were scrappy at best. UL looked up for the encounter as UL’s Denis Daly and Fintan O Cuanaigh got stuck in as the midfield battle took shape. Kennedy’s high fielding saw UCC’s Padraig Lucey retrieving the ball at half back. Sean O Shea slotted over the ensuing free to make it level pegging after two early UL scores. Cillian Spillane had opened proceedings for the home side prior to some quick-fire points by the opposition.

Fintan O Cuanaigh and Denis Daly joined up well for UL to allow Daly to slot over a clever point. That left a point between the sides. UL’s Eoghan O Conner started to come into the game. The link up play between O Cuanaigh and Daly allowed UL’s Conor Finucane to attack but great defending by UCC’s full back Clifford relieved the danger. Kevin Flavine managed to pick up O’Brien’s scuffed kick out. Jack Kennedy was making a nuisance of himself by getting forward at every opportunity before being fouled by UL’s George Hegarty. Sean O’Shea’s effort was then blocked while the rebound saw Cian Dorgan’s shot come off the crossbar.

From the turn in play, UL recycled the ball to Eoghan O Connor but his effort was managed effectively by UCC goalkeeper Eoghan O’ Brien. The pace of the game meant that Ferna Clifford pushed play forward for UL through Jack Kennedy, who then fed Spillane but his effort went wide. UCC’s kicking became wayward during the midway point of the 1st half as UL went into a 2-point lead. Sean O Shea’s free on the 15th minute left it a one-point game. Hegarty was making himself noticed in the centre of the pitch with some strong tackling. Both teams spurred chances by kicking ball into the keeper’s hands which both keepers Redmond and O’Brien dealt effectively with.

A great interception by UL’s Shane Courtney saw danger being cleared after a good attack from Cian Kiely to Eibhin Courtney. UL’s O Cuanaigh’s influence shone through with layoff’s to Mason. Through the free given, Conor Finucane slotted over. UL carried a 2-point lead but UCC got back into the tie through good interlinking by O’ Shea, Dorgan, Spillane and Eibheen Courtney. UL’s Shane Courtney’s eventual foul that led to O’Shea slotting over the free.

UL went on attack again and O’Cuanaigh had the ball in the back of the of the net but play was called back for over carrying. Kevin Crowley lined up well with Padraig Lucey which saw ball played into Cian Dorgan’s hands, who slotted over to level proceedings. Another O’Shea score put UCC in the lead a minute later. Kevin Crowley marched up field through good interlink play between Powter, Spillane and Kennedy. As the half fizzled out, UL’s Brendan O Keefe foul on O’ Shea saw his effort go narrowly wide. Another UL attack before the half saw Jim Naughton miss a clear edged opportunity to spare UCC’s blushes as the half came to a close.

The second half started at frantic pace again as Cian Dorgan was making life difficult for George Hegarty. Hegarty had already been cautioned in the first half and had to play the percentages as he was on thin ice. A foul on Powter saw ball fed to Courtney to slot over. Stephen Cronin saw more of the ball in the third quarter, feeding Courtney and Spillane on separate occasions. Courtney again was becoming a handful for the UL defence, being fouled by UL’s O’ Dea for O’Shea to slot over the free given. O’Dea soon made an amends by making a timely interception after a smooth passage between O’ Shea and Flavine. The game itself was stopped in midway point of second half due to injury to Cian O’ Dea after an attempted block on Padraig Lucey. UL’s impact subs managed to get a foothold on the game as danger men O’ Cuanaigh and Naughton linked well for Naughton to slot over the bar to put 2 in the score. UL broke again moments later from Redmond’s kick out  for the ball to be directed to full forward Keelan Sexton to slot over.

UCC made a double substitution with Sean Sherlock and Andrew Barry making way for Courtney and Lucey respectively. Good interlink play on the 40 saw another free being awarded and O’ Shea being successful with ball out of hand. An excellent goal chance went a begging with a fantastic break from Sean Powter saw his shot directed at UL’s Barry Redmond who pulled off a fantastic save. The ball was then fed further up field to Keelan Sexton again to slot over to make it a one-point game. UCC came back with both subs Sherlock and Barry interlinking well to allow Sherlock have a shot at the posts but the shot went narrowly wide. UL refused to throw in the town as they retreated back. Denis Daly intercepting Stephen Cronin, the ball was fed to UL’s Sexton. He was deemed to be fouled by Foley. Jim Naughton scored the free to level proceedings with just over ten minutes to play.

Jack Kennedy and Sean O Shea linked well before being blocked down by UL’s Brendan O Keefe. UL sought to build on possession but ball again was turned over as pitch conditions began to draw messy ball. UCC started to get into fourth gear as they again attacked the UL gain line. O’ Keefe and Courtney made blocks to prevent the UCC rear-guard. Sean Sherlock managed to break through the gain line and stuck over a much needed point for UCC to put the game out of touch for their opponents. Another quick free by O’Shea after a UL infringement put the home side two up with only injury time to be played. UL continued to attack in the hope for an elusive goal but UCC regained possession. Another block by UL O’Dea saw an interception by Cronin. The game stayed a breaking point until a questionable decision after a great high fielded catch by UCC O Brien was deemed to be over carried. From the ensuing free, Naughton slotted over to leave it two between the sides. UL’s late attack saw Crowley make a great block on Lillis. The ball being distributed by O’Shea which led a black card being issued to Denis Daly for the late challenge on O’ Shea. O Shea slotted the free over to seal the game and the National College’s league trophy for UCC.