NUIG end long wait for Sigerson Cup glory

NUIG 0-12

UL 1-06

NUI Galway overcame University of Limerick by 0-12 – 1-06 to claim their first Sigerson Cup since 2003 on Wednesday night.

In a first half that was decimated by the weather, it was a low-scoring affair.

Fionn McDonagh eventually broke the deadlock for NUIG, grabbing the first score of the game in the sixth minute.

McDonagh was at the heart of things again in the 16th minute, as his attempt at a point fell just short, but Paul Kelly was on hand to fist over.

NUIG full-back Gavin Burke was in immense form, bursting forward from the backline on numerous occasions, and he got his first score after a fine team move just a minute later to put NUIG three points to the good.

Although NUIG’s patience in possession was a common theme throughout, UL did have their chances. Paul Towey eventually got their first point in the 18th minute.

Chances were at a premium for both sides as the heavens opened above IT Carlow. David Clifford was in spectacular scoring form coming into the final, and attempted to lob NUIG ‘keeper Conor Carroll by some distance after spotting him off his line. The strong wind blowing held the ball up, allowing NUIG to flood men back and work the ball out of the defence.

Not to be silenced, Clifford followed up a free from Donal O’Sullivan with a free of his own, a well struck score off the ground against the wind to leave the sides level on three points apiece at half-time.

An inspired half-time substitution from NUIG made the difference, as Cathal Heneghan replaced Cathal Donoghue. His first involvement was to latch on to a mistake from UL keeper Conor Flaherty, stealing in to slot a point over in the first play of the second half.

Heneghan doubled his tally just two minutes later, as he sprinted forward into space to grab another excellent score.

His finest moment came in the 37th minute. After another surging run forward, he shrugged off the UL defender with a fantastic dummy, and accurately landed his point. Scores from captain Matthew Tierney and Tomo Culhane had NUIG six points clear, with UL floundering to get a foothold in the game.

This all changed in the 45th minute, as UL were awarded a penalty after O’Sullivan was fouled in the box. Clifford stepped up and smashed the ball into the top corner to inject some life back into the scoreline for UL.

Quick points from Eoghan McLaughlin and O’Sullivan after the penalty brought UL to within one point of NUIG, but that was as close as they got to overcoming the Tribesmen. A pair of excellent scores from Burke and McDonagh were enough for NUIG to keep UL at arm’s length, and some more good work in possession saw NUIG run the clock down with ease.

UL made one last attempt in injury time following a black card for NUIG’s Tierney, but Towey’s swirling ball towards the NUIG box was gathered easily by Carroll, who ushered the ball out to the full-back line, sealing a Sigerson final victory for NUIG after 19 years.

Scorers for NUI Galway: Cathal Heneghan 0-3, Tomo Culhane 0-3 (0-2f), Gavin Burke 0-2, Fionn McDonagh 0-2, Matthew Tierney 0-1 (0-1f), Paul Kelly 0-1.

Scorers for UL: David Clifford 1-1 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), Donal O’Sullivan 0-2 (0-1f), Eoghan McLaughlin 0-1, Paul Towey 0-1, Paul Walsh 0-1.

NUIG: Conor Carroll; Colin Murray, Neil Mulcahy, Gavin Burke; Rory Egan, Eoghan Kelly, Nathan Mullen; Paul Kelly, Sean Kelly; Gavin Durcan, Matthew Tierney, Cathal Donoghue; Tomo Culhane, Fionn McDonagh, Cathal Sweeney.

Subs: Cathal Heneghan (Donoghue, half-time), Tony Gill, (Durcan, 44’), Ryan Monaghan (Mullen, 60’).

UL: Conor Flaherty; Jack Coyne, Ciaran Donnelly, Paul Maher; Gearoid O’Donovan, Sean Powter, Eoghan McLaughlin; Connell Dempsey, Daniel Walsh; Ciaran Downes, Emmet McMahon, Paul Towey; David Clifford, Dan Gray, Donal O’Sullivan.

Subs: Jack Glynn (Powter, half-time), Paul Walsh (Dempsey, 42’), Oisin Looney (Downes, 55’), James McCarthy (Gray, 58’).

Referee: David Gough.

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