By Sam Curtin
It was a case of near misses for UCC in both the hurling and football county championships as the students bowed out at the opening and semi-final stage of the Cork Premier Senior championships (Divisions/Colleges).
The hurlers were the first team in action as they faced a tough challenge coming up against Imokilly at Pairs Uí Rinn. The East Cork side who were three in a row winning county champions from 2017-19. UCC led 1-19 to 1-17 going into the closing stages before Cork star Seamus Harnedy showed his class along with Barry Lawton and Ciarán Joyce who drove the side back into the lead. A county star in his own right, Shane Conway of Kerry levelled for the students before Mark McCarthy broke UCC hearts by getting his third point of the match in the last minute of injury time.
As a whole, the game took time to catch fire with both sides being tentative in their decision making which was reflected in the numerous wides hit in the opening 15 minutes. The turning point came when Harnedy set up Anthony Spillane for a goal which gave the East Cork side a five point lead before the students came back into the game to go in two behind at the break.
Once play resumed, the students roared into the contest through Eoin Power’s goal which put them ahead before Shane O’Regan levelled the game at 1-16 apiece. Despite the students going back in front with time seemingly on their side, the divisional outfit’s class and experience ultimately told in the end to progress to the next round. As for UCC, they can take encouragement from the fact they ran the perennial contenders so close and can hopefully build on it going into their Fitzgibbon Cup defence.
Scorers for UCC: C Bowe, S Conway (0-3f) 0-7 each, E Power 1-1, M Kehoe 0-2, E Carey, P Cadell, N Montgomery 0-1 each.
UCC (Cork clubs unless stated): D Heffernan (Blackrock, Limerick); C McGoldrick (Éire Óg), N O’Leary (Castlelyons), D Moran (Castlemartyr); E Carey (Kilworth), P Cadell (JK Brackens, Tipperary), J Keating (Kildorrery); K Walsh (Ballincollig), E Power (Ballina, Tipperary); C Bowe (Moyne-Templetuohy, Tipperary), S Conway (Lixnaw, Kerry), N Montgomery (Abbeyside, Waterford); B Kelleher (Carrigaline), M Kehoe (Kilsheelan-Kilcash, Tipperary), O McCarthy (Inniscarra).
Subs: J Ryan (Doon, Limerick) for Walsh, F O’Leary (Inniscarra) for Kelleher (both 37), K O’Leary (Castlelyons) for McCarthy (48), K O’Dwyer (Killenaule, Tipperary) for Power (56, injured).
While the hurlers were always going to be up against it, the draw seemed to be at least slightly kinder to their football counterparts as UCC met Muskerry in the first round of the Bon Secours Premier Senior Football Championship (Divisions/Colleges section). The students had to fight hard, coming behind on numerous occasions after Fintan Gould rolled back the years to his Cork days by firing home an early score and a brace of goals from Chris Óg Jones for the divisional side which set the tone for a frenetic half of football where the students managed to get to the interval at 2-5 apiece through goals by Conor Geaney and Kerry senior football panelist Diarmuid O’Connor.
After the break however, the students began to make their class tell and outscored their opponents by eight points to six to progress to the next round. Their opponents were their nemesis from last year, North Cork divisional side Duhallow.
Scorers for UCC: C Geaney 1-4 (0-2 f), D O’Connor 1-0, S Quilter 0-3, I Jennings 0-2, C Hayes 0-2, S O’Sullivan, D Geaney 0-1 each.
UCC: G Creedon (Kilshannig); C Gammell (Legion), B Curtin (Kilshannig ), E Fitzgerald (Gneevegulla); E Dodd (Canovee), D Phelan (Aghada), D Casey (Austin Stacks); D O’Connor (Na Gaeil), C Nyhan (Ballinascarthy); I Jennings (Kilmacabea), S Quilter (Austin Stacks), M O’Gara (do); S O’Sullivan (Adrigole), C Geaney (Dingle), D Geaney (do).
Subs: D O’Leary (Laune Rangers) for S O’Sullivan (35), C Hayes (Kieran O’Rahilly’s) for D Geaney (48) D Holland (Arigideen Rangers) for I Jennings (49), D Burke (Na Gaeil) for S Quilter (59).
Pairc Uí Rinn was once again the venue for the Divisions/Colleges section with the prize being a quarter final berth in the championship proper. It was a close, nervy affair where scores were like gold dust especially in the first half with the first score only coming in the 15th minute for Duhallow through former Cork hurler Mark Ellis from Millstreet. The score seemed to give the side confidence as they took control of the next quarter and went in 0-5 to 0-1 to the good at half time.
After the break, Diarmuid O’ Connor who had been nullified by the Duhallow defence, began to exert his influence on the game. Despite this, the students struggled to get closer than two points with Cork U20 star Conor O’Callaghan ultimately making the difference for the North Cork outfit and ended as the game’s highest scorer with five points. A star in the making no doubt and will certainly cause trouble for any team for the remainder of the competition. For the UCC, it’s back to the drawing board and regrouping for another tilt at regaining the Sigerson Cup.
Scorers for UCC: C Hayes (0-3), C Geaney (0-2), D Geaney (Mark), M O’Gara and D Clear (0-1 each).
UCC: G Creedon (Kilshannig, Cork); C Gammell (Killarney Legion, Kerry), B Curtin (Kilshannig, Cork), E Fitzgerald (Gneeveguila, Kerry); E Dodd (Canovee, Cork), D Phelan (Aghada, Cork), D Casey (Austin Stack’s, Kerry); D O’Connor (Na Gaeil, Kerry), C Nyhan (Ballinascarthy, Cork); M O’Gara (Austin Stack’s, Kerry), D Clear (Laune Rangers, Kerry), I Jennings (Kilmacabea, Cork); S Quilter (Austin Stack’s, Kerry), C Geaney (Dingle, Kerry), D Geaney (Dingle, Kerry).
Subs: D Burke (Na Gaeil, Kerry) for Phelan and J McEntee (Currha, Meath) for Nyhan (both h/t), C Hayes (K O’Rahilly’s, Kerry) for Jennings (38), S O’Sullivan (Adrigole, Cork) for Clear (48).
Overall, it was perhaps a slightly disappointing two weeks for both sides. However, with the Divisions/Colleges section being a straight knockout, there is no room forever and the fine margins ultimately went against them. Plenty however, to build on.