Ulster University win Independent.ie HE SFL Ryan Cup
Independent.ie HE SFL Division 1 (Ryan Cup) Final Ulster University 1-15 DCU 0-13 (after extra-time)
Ulster University won the Ryan Cup for the first time since 2013 with a five-point extra-time win over DCU at a foggy Páirc Grattan, Inniskeen on Wednesday 30 November.
The teams belied the difficult conditions to serve up a good contest, where there were seven scorers on either side, with Ethan Rafferty’s goal in extra-time proving to be the key moment at the Monaghan venue.
Patrick McBrearty and Rafferty hit a combined total of 1-9 for Martin McHugh’s side, who will hope to carry this league-winning form into the Sigerson Cup, which they haven’t won since 2008.
Ulster University had the only two points of the opening quarter courtesy of Patrick McBrearty and Eoin Donnelly, but DCU, who had earlier seen Dónie Smith denied by a Ronan McGeary save, eventually got off the mark with a Niall Murphy free in the 17th minute. Ethan Rafferty and Dónie Smith swapped points as the game sprang to life, before Ruairí McGlone doubled Ulster University’s lead.
The Ulster side wouldn’t add to their tally in the last 10 minutes of the first half, however, with points by Tom Lahiffe and Mark Plunkett seeing DCU change ends on level terms at 0-4 apiece.
Frees by Niall Murphy (two) and Caolán McGonagle, either side of a point from play by substitute Frank Burns for Ulster University, saw DCU make a strong start to the second half, but McBrearty hit three points by the end of the third quarter; two from frees.
Cian Breheny and sub Cian Mulligan had DCU three points to the good going into the last ten minutes, but a Niall Madine brace (including a ’45) made it a one-point game and McBrearty equalised from a free in the first minute of added time; making it 0-9 apiece.
Mulligan opened the extra-time scoring for DCU, but a brace of McBrearty frees swung it in favour of Ulster University, who opened up a four-point gap when Rafferty burst through for a superb goal in the eighth minute.
Ulster University led by 1-13 to 0-12 at the break and Rafferty added a point after the restart. Dónie Smith got one back for DCU, but the Poly’s defence stood strong and Niall McKeever sealed their win in added time.
Scorers for Ulster University: P McBrearty 0-7 (5fs), E Rafferty 1-2, N Madine 0-2 (1 ’45), F Burns 0-1, N McKeever 0-1, E Donnelly 0-1, R McGlone 0-1.
Scorers for DCU Dóchas Éireann: N Murphy 0-3 (3fs), C Mulligan 0-3, D Smith 0-3 (1f), M Plunkett 0-1, C Breheny 0-1, C McGonagle 0-1 (1f), T Lahiffe 0-1.
Ulster University: R McGeary; D McKeown, M McAvoy, R Johnston; R McHugh, G McKinless, S Sheridan; E Donnelly, N McKeever; D Gallagher, E Rafferty, R McGlone; C McCann, N Madine, P McBrearty.
Subs: F Burns for McKeown, T Clarke for Gallagher (both H-T), J Kearney, L Connor for McGlone (45), D Gallagher for Kearney (78), B Grant for Madine (80).
DCU Dóchas Éireann: D Mulvihill; Eoin Smith, D O’Neill, B Kerr; T Lahiffe, K Feely, S Akram; C McGonagle, H McFadden; D O’Connor, N Murphy, M Plunkett; C Breheny, Enda Smith, D Smith.
Subs: S Lavin for O’Connor (26), C Mulligan for McFadden (45), E Smyth for Plunkett (53), T Galligan for Murphy (54), D Mannix for Breheny, M Corcoran for Enda Smith, T O’Rourke for Feely (all 60), É Ó Conchúir for McGonagle, J Mealiff for Akram (both 70), J McGuigan for Kerr (72), R McCaughley for Eoin Smith (74).
Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow).
By Colm Shalvey.