Dominant first half sees St Mary's secure Sigerson final berth

St. Mary's duo Caolan Dillon and Liam Rafferty celebrate after the final whistle. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

St Mary’s 0-10 - 0-7 UCD

A solid first half display stood to St. Mary's University College, as they booked a place in the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup Final for the second time in three years, with a three-point victory over UCD in today's semi-final in Mallow.

The Belfast teacher training college, with just 1000 students, again defide the odds against one of the biggest colleges on the island, with a strong performance, in which they held a 0-7 to 0-0 interval lead, and always led this contest.

It took a while for either side to get to grips with this game on the score-board, and it wasn't until the tenth minute before St. Mary's registered their first score.

Both teams were tenacious in the opening stages, and it was a Stephen McConville free which opened the scoring - the first of four points of the half, and six overall from the Down man.

UCD really struggled to get to grips with Gavin McGilly's charges, with Mary's adding four more points to their tally inside six minutes.

'The Ranch' were aided by a stiff wind assistance in the opening half, with McConville keeping them ticking over nicely from frees, as they kept UCD under pressure defensively.

A Liam Rafferty point from about 45 metres out left them five points clear after 17 minutes, before another McConville score extended the lead to six in the 22nd minute.

McConville converting his latest effort after UCD lost Mike Breen to a black card.

It brought a busy week to a premature end for Breen, after he picked up an All-Ireland Club title with Beaufort last weekend.

UCD were also without another key performer at this stage, with Conor Meyler also shown a black card, with St. Mary's closing out the half with a fine Jarlath Óg Burns score from between the 65 and 45 metre lines.

A big battle faced UCD side on the restart, but the Belfield Boys worked hard, with Barry Dan O'Sullivan finally opening their account in the 38th minute.

This kick-started a good run of play from John Divilly's charges, with a pointed free from Laois's Evan O'Carroll and a fine score from play for Peter Healy cutting the gap to three points entering the final quarter.

St Mary's worked the ball well from defence to attack, with McConville on the end of a fine team move to stretch their lead to four points again on an 0-8 to 0-4 score-line after 49 minutes.

McGilly's side were now showing well in the mid-field sector, with Burns and Niall Toner impressive.

Mary's pushed five points clear following another McConville free, after Shane McGuigan was fouled, but UCD didn't give up.

O'Carroll and substitute Darragh Kennedy helping UCD to cut the gap, but crucially St. Mary's kept on top.

UCD worked hard for a goal that they craved, but it failed to materialise despite the efforts of the likes of Laois's Gary Walsh in injury-time.

A Cian O'Connor point for UCD cut the gap to two points in the 64th minute, but St Mary's closed out this game.

Ryan Coleman secured a three-point win with a fisted effort, with the last act of the game, to secure a place in a mid-week decider against either NUI Galway or UCC, who play the second semi-final tomorrow in Mallow.

Scorers St Mary’s: S McConville 0-6 (0-4 frees); R Coleman 0-2; L Rafferty, J Og Burns 0-1 each.

UCD: E O’Carroll 0-3 frees; C O’Carroll, B Dan O’Sullivan, D Kennedy, P Healy 0-1 each

ST MARY’S: M Reid; L Rafferty, Caolan Dillon, M Rooney; C Byrne, R McSheery, A Duffy; J Og Burns, L Devlin; S McConville, S McGuigan, A Boyle; N Toner, R Coleman, C McKinney.

Subs: R McGrath for C Byrne (49).

UCD:T O’Brien; B Byrne, M Dempsey, P Healy; M Breen, C O’Shea, C O’Connor; D Gavin, S Coen; C Meyler, C McCarthy, L Fortune; C O’Callaghan, E O’Carroll, B McGinn.

Subs: B Dan O’Sullivan for M Breen (15), G Walsh for C Meyler (22, bc), Brian O’Seanacháin for B McGinn (45), D Kennedy for L Fortune (48).

Referee: James Bermingham (Cork)

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