CARNDONAGH’S DEIRDRE FOLEY and Roisin Curran from Cloughaneely helped University College Dublin to the O’Connor Cup on Saturday.
The south Dublin college beat University of Limerick – captained by Four Masters’ Kate Keaney – in a tantalising finish as UL, chasing a third title in succession, were seven down before landing the last six points of the game.
Photo caption: University College Dublin players celebrate with the O’Connor Cup after the O’Connor Cup final in Tralee on Saturday. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
There was some consolation for UL as they claimed the Lynch Cup with a 3-10 to 1-7 victory over DIT, who had Orla McGonigle from Gaeil Fhánada as part of their panel.
And the Giles Cup went to St Pat’s Drumcondra, who saw off Mary Immaculate College with just a single point to spare, 0-12 to 1-8. Aine Coll from Cloughaneely and Naomh Muire’s Hannah Gallagher and Caroline Sharkey are also with the teaching college.
The O’Connor Cup final was the highlight of the weekend and it was quite an afternoon for Galway’s Nicola Ward as she scored the only goal of the game as UCD held out for a 1-7 to 0-9 victory over University of Limerick, who were denied a third successive crown in Tralee.
Cloughaneely’s Roisin Curran, University College Dublin, in action against Aine Seoighe, University of Limerick in the O’Connor Cup final on Saturday. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Ward lined up against her twin sister Louise, who was in the colours of UL, and claimed family bragging rights as the UCD’s women’s team added to the recent Sigerson Cup collected by the men.
Kate O’Sullivan scored the opening point of the game for UCD but the first half was low-scoring and the teams went in level at the break, 0-2 apiece.
Niamh O’Dea, scorer of two goals in Friday’s semi-final against DCU, equalised with a point on 14 minutes and the Clare star rattled the UCD crossbar with a vicious drive soon after.
Referee Seamus Mulvihill with team captains Kate Keaney, right, University of Limerick, and Ciara Murphy, University College Dublin before Saturday’s O’Connor Cup final. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Roisin Leonard handed UL the lead six minutes before the break but Emma Guckian’s point ensured parity at the midway point for UCD.
The second half began in blistering fashion as Ward found the net from distance in the 35th minute.
It was a fortuitous effort but set UCD on the road to an historic success – their first in this competition in a decade.
Roisin Curran, Niamh Collins and Emma Guckian added points as UCD, appearing in their first final since that 2006 win, steamed into a 1-5 to 0-2 lead.
Leonard pointed UL’s first score of the second half, a free, with 17 minutes left but Curran and Elaine Scally kept the scoreboard ticking over for UCD with points.
Now 1-7 to 0-3 clear, this one looked done and dusted but UL scored the remaining six points of the game to ensure a nervy finish for the new champions.
Carndonagh’s Deirdre Foley in possession for University College Dublin against University College Cork in O’Connor Cup semi-final on Friday in Tralee. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Leonard was prolific in the closing stages and her free deep in stoppage time left the bare minimum between the sides.
But UCD held out and goalscorer Ward claimed the player of the match award to crown a memorable day.