Hot favourites UCC were bundled out of the Sigerson Cup by underdogs IT Carlow on Sunday, the four-point winning margin for Pat Critchley’s side just about reflecting the overall pattern of this absorbing quarter-final, in which UCC never led at the Carlow college grounds.
The home side went in front when their outstanding left-half-forward Cian Farrell pointed from play on five minutes. Kerry star Seán O’Shea levelled matters from a free on 11 minutes.
IT Carlow went on to strike a rich scoring vein midway through the half, full-forward Padraig O’Toole scoring a well-worked goal on 15 minutes. A minute later they raised a second green flag from right-half-forward Evan Lowry. Lowry quickly tacked on a point from play and, after 17 minutes, Pat Critchley’s side were 2-4 to 0-2 to the good.
UCC, fielding nine players from Kerry clubs in their starting line-up and featuring a number of big-name players, trimmed the arrears to five points by half time (2-5 to 0-6) and, having introduced a raft of half-time substitutes, continued to eat into the Carlow lead throughout the second half.
With subs Dylan Casey, Sean Powter, David O’Connor and David Shaw now in their ranks, O’Shea was the go-to man for the visitors but he was expected to carry great a burden in attack. Substitute David Shaw from Dr Crokes did make his presence felt with three well-taken second-half points from play. But the Cork students were simply unable to open up a home defence which performed heroically throughout, with Trevor Collins, Conor Doyle and Ronan Ryan emerging with enhanced reputations.
The visitors enjoyed a far greater share of the possession but, in truth, Carlow goalie Killian Roche was not put under a lot of pressure in terms of shots on his goals at any stage.
UCC were guilty of some slack finishing but their level of possession was sufficient to see Sean O’Shea level matters with a well-judged point from play on 48 minutes (2-7 to 0-13). It seemed at this stage that the Cork college would push on to their expected victory.
But IT Carlow had other ideas. They pulled two points clear with a brace from Cian Farrell. And then, in injury-time, they launched a sweeping move which originated in their own half and Padraig O’Toole finished it off with a superb goal with the game gone into four minutes of injury-time.
A point from play from Diarmuid O’Connor was all UCC could muster as Critchley’s men booked a deserved Sigerson semi-final in a game where UCC never led.
This was a commendable team display from IT Carlow, who were surprise winners away to IT Tralee in their previous outing, which they won by 3-9 to 1-13. Remarkably they replicated the score of 3-9 in Sunday’s win.
Scorers for IT Carlow: C Farrell (0-7, 5 frees); P O’Toole (2-0); E Lowry (1-2).
Scorers for UCC: S O’Shea (0-4, 2 frees); D Shaw (0-3); M Cronin (0-2, 1 free): K Spillane, R Cunningham, D O’Brien , D O’Connor (0-1 each).
IT CARLOW: K Roche (Clare); T Collins (Laois), R Hitchcock (Laois), C Walsh Wexford); C Doyle (Carlow), R Ryan (Meath), J Moore (Carlow); S Ryan (Cork), A Steed (Kildare); E Lowry (Laois), C Byrne (Kildare), C Farrell (Offaly); N Hughes (Wexford), P O’Toole (Wicklow), J Walsh (Offaly).
Subs: G Murphy (Wicklow) for Steed (51); P O’Connor (Wicklow) for Hitchcock (52); T Griffin (Limerick) for Ryan (55).
UCC: E O’Brien (Kerry); C Gammell (Kerry), G O’Sullivan (Cork), L O’Donovan (Cork); J McEntee (Meath), D O’Brien (Kerry), P Feehan (Tipperary); P Lucey (Kerry), B Hartnett (Cork); J Naughton (Limerick), S O’Shea (Kerry), C O’Callaghan (Cork); R Cunningham (Galway), K Spillane (Kerry), M Cronin (Cork).
Subs: D Casey (Kerry) for O’Callaghan (h/t); S Powter (Cork) for Feehan (h/t); D O’Connor (Kerry) for Lucey (h/t); D Shaw (Kerry) for Naughton (h/t); G Murphy (Cork) for Cunningham (54).
Referee: P Maguire (Longford).