Roscommon's Heneghan steals the show to bring the Sigerson Cup back to Galway
NUIG 0-12 UL 1-6
Of a wet, windy night in Carlow, it took a man from Roscommon to light the whole thing up.
They'll hear a lot more about Cathal Heneghan yet. The Roscommon forward came on at half-time of this Sigerson Cup final and with his pace, trickery and sense of adventure, he swung this game and brought the Sigerson Cup back to Galway for the first time since 2003.
They came for David Clifford, but as he danced his way to three second half points, they stayed for Cathal Heneghan. One of his points was worth the entry fee alone.
It was still a pity about the atrocious weather conditions which, in whipping the ball here, there and everywhere, turned the first half into a game of glorified hand-ball. Usually, we'd be the first to give out about such a conservative style but with a cross-wind howling like the mother of all hair-dryers, you could see where the players were coming from.
Saying that, Fionn McDonagh and NUIG's tigerish corner back Gavin Burke kicked scores you'd be proud of on a calm day. It was tied at 0-3 apiece going into the break but Maurice Sheridan and his team wouldn't have been happy with that scoreline. They had played more of the football and looked a much more balanced team.
They were missing something though and the second half was only a couple of minutes old when Cathal Heneghan solved the mystery. Having picked up an injury recently, the Michael Glaveys club-man was held in reserve but once let loose, he changed this game in a way UL never really looked like matching.
Within minutes of his introduction he'd whipped over a tidy one but it was the second one, finished off after two dazzling dummies that had everyone talking. He's been playing for Roscommon in the League and he looked like a championship starter here.
A score worthy of winning any game
Take a bow Cathal Heneghanpic.twitter.com/RZdwcaeJqW
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) February 16, 2022
To their credit, UL didn't die with Clifford scoring a penalty and sub Paul Walsh giving them a bit of punch in attack. Indeed, it looked all to play for when, with five minutes left, the margin was down to one but with Neil Mulcahy lording it at full back - he held David Clifford scoreless from play - and with Cathal Sweeney doing his bit up front, NUIG were too good.
It was all about Heneghan though and it says it all about him that, even though he only came on as a sub, he was still the man-of-the-match. And deservedly so.
"We're a team of football players," he began. "From 1 to 35, we've all dug deep this year and finally, we've got over the line. I'd like to wish our hurlers the very best of luck now on Saturday, fingers crossed for the double," he added.
"Go raibh maith agat," he said for a finish. "Go raibh míle maith agat," he finished off. The TG4 boys will have loved that.
“We always get behind eachother in times of toughness!” 👌👊
Is é Cathal Heneghan @nuigalwaysport Laoch na hImeartha inniu! 🥳🥳 Comhghairdeas leat 👏👏👏 @glaveys @RoscommonGAA
@ElectricIreland @HigherEdGAA @GAA_BEO
#FirstClassRivals | #SigersonCup | #GAABeo pic.twitter.com/b3NjxMRdHq
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) February 16, 2022
What a performance.