UNIVERSITY College Cork captured the prestigious O’Connor Cup for the first time since 1990 with a stunning 2-14 to 1-13 victory against University of Ulster, Jordanstown in Sunday’s final.
In their first final appearance in 22 years, UCC had Kerry ace Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh and Cork’s Ciara O’Sullivan to thank for their scoring prowess as UUJ lost in the showpiece decider for a third successive year.
Ní Mhuircheartaigh scored 0-9, including six frees, while O’Sullivan chipped in with 2-1 for the newly-crowned champions on a sun-kissed afternoon at Queen’s University, Belfast.
Spectators at the Dub were treated to a cracking final that saw UCC, ironically tipped as outsiders by UUJ and Monaghan boss Gregory McGonigle, score a famous four-point win.
At half-time, UUJ led by a single point, 0-9 to 1-5 as UCC shot eleven wides before the break.
McGonigle graciously admitted afterwards that UCC deserved their win but his side, champions in 2008, had recovered from a sluggish start to lead at the midway point.
With just four minutes on the watch, UCC led by 1-1 to 0-0 as O’Sullivan netted her first goal following Ní Mhuircheartaigh’s opening point.
But UUJ, inspired by Sinead Fegan and Aimee McAttamney, hit back to establish a slender interval lead.
The second half was nerve-jangling stuff but O’Sullivan’s second goal, brilliantly taken in the 39th minute, would prove decisive.
The Cork attacker exchanged passes with Ní Mhuircheartaigh before clipping a precise shot over the advancing Shannon Lynch.
That goal handed UCC a 2-7 to 0-11 lead, soon stretched out to four points, before UUJ hit back in the 42nd minute when Clara Fitzpatrick stormed through from midfield and netted at the second attempt.
UUJ were now within a point but that’s as good as it would get for McGonigle’s charges, who tasted final defeats against Dublin City University in 2010 and 2011.
Ní Mhuircheartaigh kept the scoreboard ticking over and UUJ’s search for a way back into the game would prove in vain.
Meanwhile, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, won the Giles Cup for the very first time after a thrilling extra-time victory, 3-11 to 2-13, against NUI Maynooth, who won this competition in 2010.
The sides were deadlocked at 1-9 apiece at the end of sixty minutes as Orlagh Egan, scorer of eight points, was off target with a late free that would have won the game in normal time.
Deirdre Lawless netted for Mary I in the first period of stoppage time but the real drama was reserved for the second period, as the pendulum swung from NUI Maynooth and back in Mary I’s direction.
Debbie Geraghty scored her second goal, brilliantly lobbing Mary I goalkeeper Brid Madigan, to put NUI Maynooth back in front but almost immediately, the winners were back in front when Paula Donnelly netted.
Approaching the finish, the sides were deadlocked at 2-13 to 3-10 but there was one final twist in the tale as Sarah Lynch kicked the winning point.
A memorable day had begun with Athlone IT, runners up in 2004, claiming victory in the Lynch Cup final.
AIT claimed a 1-11 to 1-10 victory against Trinity College Dublin and they had to come from four points down at half-time to do it.
Trinity led by 1-6 to 0-5 at the break but AIT hung in there and Emma Curley’s brilliantly-taken penalty in the final minute brought silverware to the midlands.
On Saturday, Loreto Grammar School Omagh were crowned Tesco Senior A post-primary schools champions.
Loreto defeated Coláiste Ide agus Iosef from Abbeyfeale in Limerick by 1-19 to 2-12 in Kinnegad.
And there was a comprehensive victory for St Augustine’s of Dungarvan in the C final as they defeated Ursuline College (Sligo) by 6-13 to 0-3 in Birr.
O’Connor Cup final: University of Ulster, Jordanstown 1-13 University College Cork 2-14
Giles Cup final: NUI Maynooth 2-13 Mary Immaculate College, Limerick 3-11 (After extra-time).
Lynch Cup final: Athlone IT 1-11 Trinity College Dublin 1-10
Tesco Post-Primary Schools A final
Loreto Grammar School, Omagh (Tyrone) 1-19 Coláiste Ide agus Iosef, Abbeyfeale (Limerick) 2-12.
Tesco Post-Primary Schools C final
St Augustine’s, Dungarvan (Waterford) 6-13 Ursuline College (Sligo) 0-3.
O’Connor Cup final scorers:
UUJ: S Fegan 0-5 (2f), C Fitzpatrick 1-0, S Coyle 0-3f, O Fegan & A McAttamney 0-2 each, C Carey 0-1.
UCC: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 0-9 (6f), C O’Sullivan 2-1, O Farmer 0-2, R O’Sullivan & S Lambert 0-1 each.
Giles Cup final scorers:
NUI Maynooth: O Egan 0-8 (3f), D Geraghty 2-1, E Dillon 0-3, E Pherelli 0-1.
Mary I scorers: O Finn 0-6 (4f), N Carroll 1-1, K Campbell 0-3, D Lawless & P Donnelly 1-0 each, S Lynch 0-1.
Lynch Cup final scorers:
Athlone IT: E Hunston 0-5 (4f), E Curley 1-0, A Dolan 0-2, M Murray, Jo-Hanna Maher, K Ward & C Gannon 0-1 each.
Trinity College scorers: J Comerford 1-3, C Smith & M Ni Mhuineachain (2f) 0-2 each, J Brady, K O’Shea (f) & S Melvin 0-1 each.
By Jackie Cahill
25 March 2012; Rosin O’Sullivan, University College Cork, is presented with the O’Connor Cup by Pat Quill, President of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association. O’Connor Cup final, University of Ulster Jordanstown v University College Cork, Queen’s University Belfast, University Road, Belfast.