1. DCU upseated in first semi-final
Bookmakers odds of 1/4 deigned that a DCU team equipped with stellar inter-county talents were forecast to progress to their third final in four years before yesterday’s semi-final.
Yet they were comprehensively outplayed by a DIT side that displayed a superior work ethic and bossed this game from the off. It may have taken until the 51st minute for them to seal victory when Offaly’s Bernard Allen found the net but DIT were still full value for spoils.
Jason Doherty pointed the way in attack and Aidan O’Shea and David Givney dictated the game at midfield yet their defence was the real source of strength.
To hold a forward line containing Donegal’s All-Ireland winning captain, the main sharpshooter for All-Ireland club finalists Ballymun Kickhams and the Dublin senior’s key half-forward, to a solitary point from play was a stunning feat.
It was frustrating afternoon for Michael Murphy, Dean Rock and Paul Flynn as they collided with a rearguard where Bryan Menton, Nicky Devereaux and Colin Walshe all shone for a DIT team who will be marginal favorites for tomorrow’s decider.
2. UCC march on strongly in second semi-final
Twelve months ago UCC entered a Sigerson semi-final as warm favourites against NUI Maynooth. They tripped up at that hurdle by three points in Galway but yesterday did not repeat their error despite being heavily tipped beforehand against Athlone IT.
UCC were sharp from the off and did not waver when conceding an early goal after a terrific strike by James McGivney. The experience of the six survivors – Jamie O’Sullivan, Eoin O’Mahony, Peter Crowley, Niall Daly, Kevin O’Driscoll and JB Spillane – from the 2011 winning team helped them but the input of newcomers was also invaluable.
The Conor attacking threat surfaced as inside men Cox and Sweeney fired a combined total of 1-15, Peter Acheson lorded matters at midfield while Brian Coughlan and Luke Connolly were creative in the half-forward line. They’ll challenge strongly tomorrow to claim their second title in three years.
Mark Collins in action for Dublin IT. Pic: INPHO
3. Having the inside track on final opponents
In tomorrow’s decider UCC will come up against a player they will be highly familiar with. DIT centre-forward Mark Collins wore the number 11 jersey in Belfield in 2011 when UCC won the Sigerson title and the Cork senior was also in action for Billy Morgan’s side last year.
“It’ll be some experience meeting the boys,” admitted Collins to TheScore.ie. “I was talking to (UCC selector) John Corcoran after our match and it’ll be good to come up against them after they won.”
Collins has previous experience though of featuring against UCC. In October 2011 he lined out for his club Castlehaven when they succumbed to the college outfit in the Cork senior football final.
Mark Collins in action for UCC. Pic: INPHO
4. Lesser lights chance to shine
If All-Ireland senior finals are the preserve of the top-tier counties, the Sigerson Cup displays a democratic streak in offering lesser lights an opportunity on the main stage.
Peter Acheson and Conor Sweeney, vital cogs in the UCC machine, will ensure the Tipperary footballers have an interest in tomorrow’s decider as they start for the college side who traditionally draw their players from Rebel and Kingdom camps.
While for the Killygarry club in Cavan, it will be a special moment as they supply two players – Martin Reilly and Ross Sheridan – to the DIT team that will be bidding to land their college’s first ever Sigerson Cup title in only their second ever final.
5. Rossies family interest
The Roscommon club Padraig Pearses is located close to the Athlone IT campus which hosts this weekend’s Sigerson Cup finals and they would have taken a particular interest in today’s semi-final action.
In the first game, Conor Daly was part of the DCU team that saw their silverware dreams dashed in the semi-final by DIT.
But in the second game, there was some joy for the Daly family as his brother Niall played at centre-back on the UCC side that overturned Athlone IT.