Division 3 fresher football final: NUI Galway 4–10 DCU Dóchas Éireann 2–6
By Michael O’Connor
Success comes to all who wait and persevere. 24 hours after suffering a five – point division 1 league defeat, NUI Galway were in Tubberclair aiming to close out term 1 with a trophy. Ultimately it was achieved with less effort than expected against DCU Dóchas Éireann’s well prepared squad.
Many title wins see the forward ranks, or an impressive defender gains the plaudits from the scribes and many of the described did provide capable performances on both sides over the hour.
Yet, in this game it would be most unfair and perhaps even lazy not to reserve special mention for NUI Galway netminder Brian McGuinness who engineered at least half a dozen saves over the hour and especially when the game was in the melting pot and a champion was unsure on the scoreboard.
NUI Galway opened aid by the stiff breeze playing into the clubhouse goals in Tubberclair. One must compliment the quality of the pitch in the Westmeath venue after two days of unwelcome weather. The opening score fell to Marcus O’Neachtain for the city college. Pressure from DCU resulted in a free awarded to Ryan McHugh which he scored with ease.
With six minutes elapsed Donnacha Gately kicked over his side’s third score as it was imperative that scores were made aided by the elements. Bobby Campbell who was impressive throughout continued the positive start with his side’s fourth point as it appeared that DCU Dóchas Éireann would struggle to make an impact with little inventiveness in their attack early on.
The first scorable effort for DCU fell to Conor Nolan but his effort fell tamely in the hands of the Brian McGuinness after seven minutes. Little could be done on the part of the DCU side for much of the first period to even create a chance due to capable NUI Galway and profligate shooting by the capital college.
Finally, DCU with their second meaningful attack of the night won a free sent over successfully by Conor Nolan after 14 minutes action in Tubberclair. A free won by Saran O’Fionnagain, who is from Nobber in Meath, was sent wide by Conor Nolan. Indeed, the Meath bulwark was a key attacking option for DCU as he set up most of their attacks. Nolan was on hand for his second score before Ciaran Fennessy struck for the game’s first goal to send DCU into an unlikely lead.
This was shortlived as Bobby Campbell responded within a minute with NUI Galway’s first of four goals quickly added to by a well taken score from Donnacha Gately. Bobby Campbell sent his side four clear in the 26th minute only for DCU’s David Foley to grab his side’s second goal after being set up by O Fionnegain in a classic move. In a similar move Brian Molloy kept the goal festival alive with the game’s fourth goal, before Campbell and Shay Henry rounded off the first half scoring to leave the winners 2–8 to 2–2 ahead.
It was expected that DCU would engineer a strong second half aided by the strong breeze, yet the third quarter failed to ignite with only a point apiece until the 44th minute. O’Fionnagain saw a goal effort saved on the line by McGuinness, before he set up Joe Keyes for the first score of the new half.
Another block by McGuinness kept the DCU scoreline down before Shay Henry with his second score of the game restored a six – point advantage. Paddy Meade forced a third save from McGuinness as NUI Galway held on for a ten – minute spell.
The game was ended as a contest when two sweeping moves involving at least four players on each occasion ended with a goal each time. Kerry man Donal Hunt and Campbell once again were the net shakers as NUI Galway raced 12 clear with eight minutes to play.
Hunt who will move up the rankings in the coming seasons rounded off the winners’ scoring as NUI Galway sat back in the last five minutes and were content to defend in depth as DCU Dóchas Éireann added consolation scores from Nolan and O’Fionnagain as Michael Galvin ended the contest.
The winners were served well by Brian McGuinness, Jonathan Nestor, Donnacha Gately, Shay Henry, Donal Hunt, Bobby Campbell, Paddy Culhane and Eamonn Keogh. DCU were served well by Paddy Meade, Ciaran Fennessy, David Foley, Conor Nolan and Saran O’Fionnagain.
NUI Galway: Brian McGuinness (Mayo), Padraig Stephens (Galway), Jonathan Nestor (Roscommon), Peter Donoghue (Galway), Eamonn Keogh (Kildare), Donnacha Gately (Roscommon) (0–2), Donal Hunt (Kerry) (1–1), Fionn McDonagh (Galway), Shay Henry (Roscommon) (0–2), Daithi MacGloinn (Leitrim), Bobby Campbell (Kildare) (2–3), Brian Molloy (Sligo) (1–0), Paddy Culhane (Galway), Aaron Deegan (Kildare), Kane Phillips (Mayo).
Subs: Conal Stenson (Sligo), Sean Dowd (Westmeath), Ryan Casey (Mayo), Ryan McHugh (Longford) (0–1), Marcus O’Neachtain (Galway) (0–1), Killian Dolan (Galway).
DCU Dóchas Éireann: Dean McDermott, Joe Delaney, Paddy Meade, Kevin Connell, Ciaran Fennessy (0–1), Ger Flynn, Killian Pierce, David Foley (0–1), Cian Murphy, Ronan Duggan, Conor Nolan (0–4), Fergal Moylan, Jack Murray, Saran O’Fionnagain (0–1), Joe Keyes (0–1).
Referee: Michael Galvin (Tang).