Two second half goals from Sean Kelly and Adam Gallagher proved not enough on Saturday in Santry as Tipperary’s Liam Casey was the toast of UCD as they won a 34th Sigerson Cup title.
When Gallagher struck the second goal with 10 minutes, it looked like Maurice Sheridan’s team were going to charge to the winner’s enclosure as they led 2-8 to 1-9.
Con O’Callaghan and Conor McCarthy replied to level for the fourth time before Gallagher put NUIG back ahead.
But Casey, who opened his account just after the restart, nailed two white flags in the closing stages before taking a black card for his team as UCD emerged triumphant.
NUIG shot into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead in the opening quarter as Enda Tierney, Gallagher and Damien Comer found the target but Monaghan’s McCarthy was UCD’s chief player in the opening 30 minutes and his 19th minute goal shifted the momentum.
Comer made it 0-6 to 1-1 two minutes later but two more McCarthy minors along with Eoin Lowry and Evan O’Carroll gave UCD a two-point advantage.
Goal chances were at a premium as both Comer and Kieran Molloy, who was introduced in the 39th minute, fresh off his exploits for Corofin’s All-Ireland semi-final win, hit the post while O’Callaghan drilled a 13 metre ball wide.
Comer and Tierney had the teams level at 0-8 to 1-5 at half-time before Casey’s first upon the restart put UCD ahead.
But after Comer forced Charlie Manton into a save, Sean Kelly was perfectly placed to palm to the net for NUIG’s first goal putting them two ahead on 37 minutes.
However, they didn’t add to their tally for 13 minutes as a McCarthy brace levelled matters by the three-quarter mark before Lowry gave UCD the advantage again.
But when Gallagher found the net on 50 minutes, this exciting Sigerson Cup Final was set for a grandstand finish with O’Callaghan and McCarthy responding quickly to ensure parity.
NUIG led again but Casey had the final say. NUIG chased an equaliser with extra-time the expected conclusion but referee Joe McQuillan eventually blew up and the Galway college’s memorable run ended in heartbreaking defeat.
NUIG – Adam Gallagher 1-3 (three frees), Enda Tierney 0-3 (one free), Damien Comer 0-3, Sean Kelly 1-0.
UCD – Conor McCarthy 1-6 (three frees), Liam Casey 0-3, Eoin Lowry 0-2, Evan O’Carroll 0-1, Con O’Callaghan 0-1.