Wind, rain, pressure and all, Mark Coleman slots the most glorious line ball
UCC 0-18 DCU 0-17
The rain was falling, the wind was howling and the grass was dug up.
The scores were level but the time was up. Extra-time looked a stone cold certainty, until a sliotar slipped away from a DCU body and out of play.
In any normal circumstances, you wouldn't worry about a line ball from the guts of 45 yards out, in the wind, rain and all the elements could offer. But Mark Coleman isn't any normal player, and his skill and ability over a line-ball isn't any normal kind of thing.
Coleman took his time and speaking on commentary duty of the Electric Ireland stream, Nicky English sent a warning.
"When you have Mark Coleman on your side, this is a chance," said the Tipp man.
The Blarney man was revelling in it.
And so with a flick of those golden wrists, he sent the ball rocketing into the Dublin sky, cutting through the air with a certainty and with a laser-like accuracy. At this moment, you could feel DCU hearts aching and eventually breaking as the umpire went for the white and Coleman leapt for joy.
— BlarneyGAA (@BlarneyGAA) February 8, 2020
Fergal Horgan, to his credit, gave DCU a chance to level it up but Tom Kingston's side won one last ball to keep them at bay. This was a smash and grab from UCC who trailled DCU by three at one point in the second half, and looked for all the world a beaten docket.
But from there, they didn't give up. They battled back like champions with sub and Waterford man Neil Montgomery single-handedly dragging them back into the game. Almost immediately upon his introduction, the Abbeyside man shot over an inspirational score and he did the same again moments later, to revive a wilting UCC team.
They rose from the dead and came out kicking. Wednesday's final in DCU will be a difficult one for anyone connected with DCU to watch, but it will be some game between IT Carlow and these Munster men.
Hard hits, plenty of rucks, scraps and hard earned balls, it was pure January hurling and a true endorsement of everything Fitzgibbon hurling is from minute one.
In the early exchanges, UCC were way sharper with Kingston and Conway striking over points for fun. DCU weren't at the races whatsoever in their home patch and were it not for the brilliance of Oisin Foley in the goals, this game could have been over before it got going.
From Foley's lead, James Bergin took up the mantle and his influence ensured DCU went into the break level, and lucky. UCC will have wondered how the score read 0-11 0-11 at half-time.
But DCU continued to pump up the pressure. Darren Mullen and Conor Burke were roaring into the game in the half back line and Rory O'Connor was deadly from the placed balls, and coming into it from open play.
They raced into a three point lead and looked like winners until Montgomery arrived on the scene, and Mark Kehoe awoke after having a quiet game for the most part. The Kilsheelan Kilcash club man's late point was worth the admission fee alone.
Then the stage was left to Coleman, who was worth double that.
Afterwards, Coleman played it down. There's no playing that one down.
Injury time is up
The scores are level
The rain is falling, the wind is howling, grass dug up.
But Mark Coleman steps up...
Holy mother of Christ
UCC 0-18 DCU 0-17 - full time.
What a player, what a skill 🔥😱pic.twitter.com/LqkCWp5ZMr
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) February 8, 2020
"It's not something I practice hugely, it's just once you have the technique, it's a matter of topping up and topping up. This time of the year, I haven't practiced them at all so I was even surprised it got off the ground to be honest. So I was happy enough yeah..."
Shane Hurley;David Lowney, Robert Downey, Killian O'Dwyer; Mark Coleman (0-1 sideline), Paddy O'Loughlin Niall O'Leary, Paddy Cadell, Billy Hennessy; Robbie O’Flynn (0-1), Conor Boylan, Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-1); Shane Conway (0-8, 0-7f,), Shane Kingston (0-3), Mark Kehoe (0-1)
Subs: Michael O'Halloran (0-1) for Billy Hennessy (40), Neil Montgomery (0-2) for Conor Boylan (43), Bill Sheehan for Robbie O'Flynn (55), Andrew Casey for Fitzgibbon (60)
Oisin Foley; Lee Gannon, Paddy Smyth, Conor Firman; Brian Ryan, Conor Burke, Evan Shefflin; Damien Reck, Rory O'Connor (0-11, 0-10f); John Donnelly, Rian McBride, James Burke (0-1), Donal Burke (0-1) , Jim Ryan, James Bergin (0-2)
Subs: Darren Mullen (0-1) for Evan Shefflin (23), Adrian Mullen (0-1) for Jim Ryan (27), Fergal Whitely for James Burke (50), Fintan McGibb for James Bergin (60)