Monaghan flyer McCarthy the difference as O'Callaghan and UCD advance to Sigerson final
This one went all the way down to the wire.
UCD and UUJ couldn't be separated after 60 minutes in Inniskeen in Monaghan on Wednesday evening. They couldn't be separated after 80 minutes of football so then the game went to extra-time in extra-time.
Twice it looked like the Dublin college had this game won, as they led deep into normal time, and then deep into extra-time, but UUJ just wouldn't give up.
Gareth McKinless was UUJ's first hero as he equalised with nearly the last kick of normal time. In extra-time Tyrone's Rory Brennan saved the Ulster college's bacon once again to send this titanic tussle to another period of extra-time.
With players from both sides out on their feet, UCD eventually went on to close the game out, winning by two on a scoreline of 0-18 to 1-13.
FT in @InniskeenGaa @HigherEdGAA Sigerson Cup Semi Final@UCDGAA 0-18@UlsterUniGAA 1-13
After two periods of extra time...what a match! Hard luck to UU.#SigersonCup #BringItHome pic.twitter.com/KvcOgS1sNJ
— UCD Sports Clubs (@ucdsportsclubs) February 14, 2018
They will proceed to face NUIG in Saturday's final, after the Galway college overcame DIT in Mullingar on the other last four tie of the night.
A massive result for the Galway men in Mullingar https://t.co/PHEiZORWJ9
— 🎧🎥 Baz & Andrew’s House of Rugby🏉 (@SportsJOEdotie) February 14, 2018
The night started on a good omen for UCD. Con O'Callaghan was named in their starting lineup to make his first appearance in this year's Sigerson Cup.
O'Callaghan had been missing in action for John Divilly's men on their route to the last four due to club commitments, but with the All-Ireland club hurling final more than a month away, he was given permission to play in this one.
Dubbed the tie of the competition so far, this tie began as a slow burner, with the sides tied 0-3 0-3 after the first half. It wasn't long shooting into life.
The tight nature of the game was a reflection of the tight bookmakers' odds before throw-in.
The Ulster side started the second half brighter under the lights in Monaghan. Tyrone forward Lee Brennan had found his stride and he kicked them into a 0-7 to 0-4 lead after 50 minutes of play.
UCD weren't long responding with their physically imposing full forward Evan O'Carroll raising a couple of white flags, as did O'Callaghan beside him.
Their lively Monaghan centre forward Conor McCarthy was also getting more and more involved in the game. Corofin's Liam Silke came off the bench and he kicked them into a 0-12 0-10 point lead with the clock ticking.
He came off the bench, perhaps with an eye on Saturday's club semi-final. Little did he know he had more than an hour of football ahead of him.
Then that man McKinless stood up to land a big one to level it up at the death.
— Unit Updates (@UnitUpdates) February 14, 2018
UUJ continued where they left off in extra-time, with Mark Bradley rattling the net to give them a three point lead.
That was as good as it got for them, however.
Conor McCarthy came into his own in extra-time, and his points, both from play and from frees helped peg UUJ back.
A late Evan O'Carroll free looked to have sealed it, but the ding dong nature of the game continued with Lee Brennan tying it at the death.
So on they went to two more five minute periods of extra-time, and Con O'Callaghan's accuracy from placed balls sealed the deal for them there.