Ulster University Defeat Cavan in McKenna Cup
Dr McKenna Cup Section C: Cavan 0-15 Ulster University 0-19
Ulster University failed to read the script at Kingspan Breffni Park as they came, saw and conquered in a riveting Dr. McKenna Cup third round joust.
Section C’s table-toppers were odds-on to pick up at least a point to cement their place in the semi-finals of the competition only to make a dog’s dinner of their apparently straight-forward task. The much-changed Cavan crew promised much in racing into a 0-5 to 0-0 first quarter lead thanks, in part, to a brace from rookie Shane O’Rourke.
However, the blues flattered to deceive though and they were pedestrian going forward even if the students really ought to have been further behind when Paul O’Connor fisted a point in the 7th minute when a goal beckoned.
The visitors awoke from their slumber at the advent of the second quarter and they went onto give their hosts a lesson in hunger, cohesion and shooting-on-sight. The Ulster University boys came roaring back into the game with four answered points, including gems from the spring-heeled Ruairi McGlone and free-taker Daire Gallagher.
With the ball-winning ability and craft of Down man Niall Madine to the fore and inspirational blocks being put in by the likes of Ruairi Kelly and James Kearney, UU began to look the part.
Gradually, the visitors grew to become the dominant force in the vital diamond area of the field with McGlone and Madine giving the Cavan defence a horrid time in meeting the in-coming ball.
The University attackers continued to eat into Cavan’s long-held lead by stealth and by the 27th minute had managed to cut the host’s lead to the odd point in nine. The admittedly experimental Cavan side continued on its sluggish way with their inability to convert hard-won possession into the hard coinage of scores an increasingly obvious trait of their play.
Both sides rang the changes at half-time which saw the tempo of the game arguably reach new heights but it was UU’s cavalier style which really caught the eye. It was UU who appeared more energised by the introduction of the fresh legs and when classy sub Mark Bradley (man-of-the-match) and Madine pointed 90 seconds into the second half, Cavan were left trailing by 0-8 to 0-9 (for the first time in the match).
Even with 33 minutes of normal time left to play, the smart money was on the students to jettison Cavan from the competition. UU visibly grew in confidence and self-belief
the longer the game wore on and McGlone blasted over from point blank range when a goal looked on after he run through on a one-on-one with Cavan keeper Farrelly.
True to form, one minute later the Aghaloo clubman redeemed himself to put his side two points up (0-12 to 0-10) with 20 minutes to play. Cavan brought on Seanie Johnston but UU’s addition of big guns, Ryan McHugh, Bradley and McBrearty meant the students had little difficulty in consolidating their long run into the winners’ enclosure
Cavan nipped away at UU’s ankles in the final quarter but when Paul O’Connor’s rocket hit the bar (56)and went wide, the Cavan fans must have seen the worst possible scenario unfolding.
The blues huffed and puffed as UU played keep-ball at times with Mattie McGleenan’s side lacking the ingenuity and shooting boots to unhinge a more hungry and cohesive UU crew.
The students earned top marks with exquisite points from influential subs Ryan McAnespie and Paddy McBrearty bookending a fully deserved win for the visitors.
Article by Irish News