UCC Soccer club pick up Spillane Cup in Belfast.
By Stephen Kestell
UCC began their Harding campaign last week against NUI Galway. Despite the late starting kick off, UCC remained focused and took an early lead through an incredible strike from Rory Doyle. UCC extended their lead further after 25 mins when Charlie Whalley found the end of Darragh Crowley’s knock on. UCC added a third from a free kick, sweetly struck from the boot of Doyle from 40 yards.
UCC were dealt a significant blow when centre back and captain Cathal Crowley went off injured at the interval. NUIG came out strong and pulled the game back to 3-2. UCC struck back when Conor Bowdren broke brilliantly down the right wing and pulled the ball back to Doyle who coolly beat the NUIG centre half with an elegant touch and slotted past the keeper. NUIG were resilient despite the 4-2 score-line and scored a 3rd with minutes remaining.
Into injury time, NUIG won a corner, with everyone forward, it was their keeper who scored the equaliser after connecting with the ball at the UCC back post. The game was blown up immediately and went straight to penalties which NUIG were victorious. The result meant that UCC moved into the Spillane Cup were they faced DCU in the semi-final.
UCC faced tough opposition against DCU who had several League of Ireland players throughout their ranks. It was UCC who started strongest, taking a deserved lead through Doyle. DCU responded quickly with a double to make it 2-1. But UCC reacted brilliantly and got an equaliser through a Darragh Crowley header. UCC controlled the game thereafter and Bowdren was rewarded for his efforts with two fine goals which gave UCC a 4-2 victory and a place in the Spillane Cup Final.
UCC were boosted by the return of Cathal Crowley for the final. UL were dangerous early on particularly from set pieces but UCC were finding a joy on the flanks, with Bowdren in particular causing UL problems. UCC took the lead after 30mins when Bowdren broke down the right, pulled the ball back for Doyle who back heeled first time to the unmarked Darragh Crowley who made no mistake with the finish.
UCC went into the break one nil ahead, and introduced striker Liam Barber at the interval. Barber who made an immediate impact and chipped the keeper from a tight angle after getting on the end of a Doyle through ball to make it 2-0. UCC extended their lead with a quick double from Barber and Doyle. UCC put the game beyond reach of UL when Bowdren grabbed the 5th with a few minutes left on the clock making UCC champions of the Spillane Cup for the first time in their history.
Coach Shane O’Byrne, ‘Excellent experience and a real insight into college competitions for our Freshers. It’s always great to come away with a trophy and we can be proud that we made a bit of history by becoming the first UCC side to win the Spillane Cup’