Freshers survive late fightback

DCU 0-9

St. Mary’s 0-8

by Eoghan Cormican

At St. Clare’s

Wing back Conor Daly proved an unlikely hero as the Freshers football side were pushed all the way in this fractious first round clash with St. Mary’s.

Daly’s 58th minute minor proved to be DCU’s sole score of the second half, but was just enough to see them advance beyond a dogged and determined Mary’s outfit.

There wasn’t much to excite the small crowd in the opening half, with forwards Scott Oates and Aidan Forker the stand out players for their respective sides.

DCU opened well with Oates pointing inside two minutes and though St. Mary’s levelled matters, Enda O’Reilly, Andrew O’Brien and Shane Carey followed their team mate onto the scoresheet in that opening quarter.

Tom Flynn and Leitrim’s Donnie Wrynn were shading it in midfield, the roaming John Small and Shane Carey motored through the exchanges, and most importantly DCU exuded a sense of purpose and focus on the task at hand.

St. Mary’s were being asked questions about their ability and resolve to remain in the game, but they delivered the right answers kicking three points through Conor Clarke and Aidan Forker to reduce the deficit to the minimum.

Indeed, they were desperately unlucky not to find the net, but for a last ditch block to scupper the rare goal opening.

It appeared the solitary margin would carry to the interval but for the individual brilliance of Shane Carey who threw over three supreme efforts in first half stoppages, to hand Ross Munnelly’s side a 0-8 to 0-4 lead.

On the restart, St. Mary’s came out and scored three unanswered points to completely put DCU on the back foot.

Conor Clarke, Thomas Canavan (free) and Aidan Forker all raised white flags as DCU began to lose their way somewhat.

Tensions between the sides which had been simmering all afternoon boiled over on 41 minutes when Michael Hynes landed a hefty challenge on Scott Oates. A melee ensued in which a spectator lashed out at the St. Wing Mary’s wing back.

In any event, the home side, despite edging the possession stakes, just couldn’t find the range with Tom Flynn, John Small and Conor Moyna spurning opportunities.

With five minutes to go there was still just a point between the sides and DCU’s cause wasn’t helped when substitute Conor McGraynor and Scott Oates registered further wides which would have given the League champions much need breathing space.

Thereafter, a surging run from McGraynor dissected the Mary’s rearguard and the Wicklow man cleverly offloaded to Conor Daly who showed terrific composure to slot DCU’s first score in over thirty minutes.

But tension mounted when Thomas Canavan pointed a short range free subsequently after Niall Ward was dragged to the ground. It was a frustrating score to concede as DCU cheaply coughed up possession, allowing Mary’s break up the field and reduce the gap to the minimum.

A game that was slow to catch fire finished in a welter of excitement and the six minutes of injury time allotted only added to the dramatic conclusion.

Niall Ward was perfectly poised to deliver the equalising score in the 64th minute, but for a superb tackle. The visitors almost snatched a draw from the resultant ’45 but Conor Clarke’s delivery was fisted wide

The referee afforded Mary’s a one final chance, DCU however, were not to be breached securing passage to the second round, although not as comfortable as many pre-empted.

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