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Ryan stars for MTU in Sigerson

12 January, 2023

Irish Examiner match report 10/01/2023 by Stephen Barry

UCD hang on for win over MTU Cork but suffer Egan injury blow 

Cormac Egan was picked as one to watch in all Sigerson Cup previews but an ill-timed injury could rule him out for the coming month of college action.

MTU Cork 0-13 UCD 2-11 

UCD held on for a four-point victory away to MTU Cork in their Sigerson Cup opener but they may be without Offaly star Cormac Egan for the entire competition.

Daire Cregg and David Garland had combined for 2-8 to give UCD an 11-point lead over MTU before the Cork side made them sweat for a finish, kicking the last seven points as Ryan O'Donovan took his personal tally to 0-10.

Egan was picked as one to watch in all Sigerson Cup previews but an ill-timed injury could rule him out for the coming month of college action.

“He’s out for a couple of weeks,” said UCD manager John Divilly. 

“Unfortunately, he picked a knock up with Offaly under-20s last week so he mightn’t see any Sigerson at all, unfortunately for him.

“That’s the way it goes. That’s why there’s a panel there.” 

Egan’s injury on county duty is an example of just one of the challenges third-level managers face organising a cohesive team so early in January. Divilly played footballers from 12 different counties against MTU but collective training has been impossible with their college term yet to resume.

“It’s our first time on the field together for seven weeks. We haven’t been on the field since the League final because of exams and lads are away.

“We’re not back in college for another two weeks so I’m happy the guys still gelled as a team and put all the logistics behind us to go out and play well for 50 minutes.

“The last 10 minutes was not good stuff so that’s something we need to correct if we want to try to compete with Galway or Maynooth next week.

“A few lads came off there with niggles so we’ll just have to assess it. They’re all going back now and some lads will be involved in FBDs, and O’Byrne Cups, and McKenna Cups the next few days so we’ll try to pick a team next Monday night again and see where we’re at.” 

This wasn’t officially a must-win game but with either reigning champions University of Galway or League champions Maynooth University the backdoor opposition, winning was at least highly advisable. MTU now face a do-or-die test against the losers of that match, while UCD face the winners with a bye to the quarter-finals up for grabs.

“Either one are a formidable outfit but it’s a chance for us to see can we learn from tonight’s mistakes and put a few things right for next week.” 

Their first-half display was relatively polished given the lack of on-field preparation as the quicker transition and greater incision of UCD’s forwards sent them into the break with a four-point lead.

While MTU played a running game and committed bodies forward, when it broke down UCD’s speed of supply into Cregg and Garland caused trouble. They only missed five chances across the hour. MTU missed as many from placed balls alone.

Referee Jonathon Hayes called four off-the-ball frees on corner-backs in the first-half, two for each side, with O'Donovan and David O’Connor profiting early to help MTU into the lead.

Cregg found Garland for a mark which gave UCD a 4-3 advantage and from that kick-out, they struck for goal. Both midfielders were involved in a move that went through the hands of Cregg before he palmed home Ben O’Carroll’s pass.

When the ball came right back up the other end, Gary O’Rourke was alert to save from Alan Walsh.

They held that lead to the break, 1-6 to 0-5, as MTU sent for Seán Walsh and Conall Kennedy to be introduced at half-time, with captain Rory Maguire switching to defence.

They didn’t find any immediate improvement, with a change to longer deliveries into attack mopped up by the UCD full-back line.

Garland produced a series of ankle-creaking dummies for the opening point, cancelled out by an O'Donovan free, before UCD went on to score 1-4 without reply in the next 14 minutes; the 49th-minute goal finished off by Garland. It could’ve been more had Cregg not palmed wide under pressure when in on goal.

MTU kept motoring with a Walsh point followed by five O'Donovan frees and another from play to give the home crowd hope but that was as close as they came.

Scorers for MTU Cork: R O'Donovan (0-10, 8 frees, 1 45); A O’Shea, D O’Connor (free), S Walsh (0-1 each).

Scorers for UCD: D Cregg (1-5, 0-4 frees); D Garland (1-3, 0-1 mark); D Moriarty, B O’Carroll, C Feely (0-1 each).

MTU Cork: K Twomey (Kilshannig); S Andrews (Shamrocks), C O’Shea (Kilshannig), P Ring (Aghabullogue); T Walsh (Kanturk), S Meehan (Kiskeam), D Linehan (Castlemagner); R Maguire (Castlehaven - capt), L Smith (Glenbeigh/Glencar, Kerry); J Cahalane (Castlehaven), A O’Shea (Listry, Kerry), C Donovan (Macroom); R O'Donovan (Barryroe), D O’Connor (Boherbue), A Walsh (Kanturk).

Subs: S Walsh (The Nire, Waterford) for O’Connor (h-t), C Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials, Tipperary) for Linehan (h-t), É O’Hanlon (Kilshannig) for O’Shea (47), J Cooper (Éire Óg) for Smith (60), P O’Leary (Gneeveguilla, Kerry) for C Donovan (60+7 inj).

UCD: G O’Rourke (Ballyhaise, Cavan); L Smith (Ballinteer St John’s, Dublin), J Moran (Emmet Óg Killoe, Longford), M Stone (Barndarrig, Wicklow); K Kennedy (Ballyboden St Enda’s, Dublin - capt), P O’Keane (St Patrick’s, Wicklow), B Cox (Calry/St Joseph’s, Sligo); R Buckley (Listry, Kerry), S Forker (Castleknock, Dublin); P Ruttledge (Knockmore, Mayo), D Moriarty (Curraha, Meath), P Tolan (Naomh Barróg, Dublin); D Cregg (Boyle, Roscommon), B O’Carroll (St Brigid’s, Roscommon), D Garland (Donaghmoyne, Monaghan).

Subs: D McElearney (Drumhowan, Monaghan) for Kennedy (4-5 blood), C Feely (Boyle, Roscommon) for Tolan (43), McElearney for Forker (43), L Breathnach (Ballinteer St John’s, Dublin) for Cregg (48), J Lynam (The Downs, Westmeath) for O’Keane (55), C Feeney (Adamstown, Wexford) for O’Carroll (60+7).

Referee: J Hayes (Limerick).

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