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IRISH UNIVERSITIES COLLINGWOOD CUP PREVIEW

Serial winner McNally knows Queens will pose toughest of examinations in Collingwood final

UCD manager Diarmuid McNally knows a thing or two about winning the Irish Universities Collingwood Cup having guided the Belfield side to seven previous wins since first taking charge in 2001.

McNally along with the management team of Tony Sheridan and Ger Barron will attempt to take UCD’s total number of overall wins to 48 with another success in the 2022 decider against Queens University Belfast at Oriel Park this Tuesday 2.0. 

The game is a repeat of the 2018 decider at The Dub – Queens home ground and on that occasion in a closely fought tie a magnificent Daire O’Connor goal in added time gave ten-man UCD a 2-1 victory. 

By John Hudson

Timmy Molloy’s first half goal for UCD was cancelled out by a 60 minute free from Ronan Young after UCD were reduced to ten men when Georgie Kelly saw red and a bad injury forced Gary O’Neill to be replaced.

After missing out on holding the competition in 2021 due to the continuing Covid restrictions, the action in the 2022 competition finally got underway in early February under a new format.

The normal three or four-day tournament hosted at one university was replaced by a more conventional format with each of the rounds run over several weeks and culminating with the grand finale at Oriel Park.   

In the early rounds UCD opted not to start any of their SSE Airtricity League promotion winning squad with the new season imminent but they still proved strong enough to make it to another final.  

A comfortable quarter final 3-0 defeat of UCC at Belfield with a brace from Ciaran Behan plus Adam Lennon’s strike saw them into the last four.

Maynooth University were their semi-final opponents and UCD were made to battle before coming away with a 2-1 win at John Hyland Park Baldonnell.

Adam Lennon put them in front on nine minutes when he nipped in from the right to steer Rossa McAlister’s cross home.

Maynooth were level before the break with centre back Aaron McBride heading in a Jack Reynolds corner.  

UCD introduced first teamers Jack Keany, Colm Whelan and Liam Kerrigan for the second half and it was Kerrigan who clinched the win with a top-class goal in the final quarter to clinch their place in the final.

Queens on the other hand visited Dublin venues for their opening round ties. Holders DCU were their first victims going down 5-0 at Glasnevin to a hat trick from Northern Ireland under 21 international John McGovern after Ronan Young had given Queens an early lead plus an own goal.  

The semi final against NUI Galway at the AUL proved a similar comfortable game for Queens who saw McGovern hit a second successive hat trick and Young again getting on the score sheet for a 4-0 victory.

McNally is keen to maintain UCD’s fine tradition in the Collingwood Cup. 

“The Collingwood Cup continues to be an important competition in our season. Unfortunately, the timing of this year’s competition meant the early rounds clashed with the start of the League of Ireland season and our return to the top level.

“We have used players mostly from our Leinster Senior League side in the two games so far and the lads have really performed well in getting us to the final.

“A couple of recent injuries may see more of the League of Ireland squad involved at Oriel but we know it’s going to be a tight game. Queens will be well up for it and they have scored plenty of goals on their way to the final and also kept a clean sheet.”

Queens coach Neil McGaughey feels the Belfast side will eventually get the win that has eluded Queens since their last success in 1985.

“We are delighted to get to the final after a promising league campaign where we just fell short.

“We haven’t won the Collingwood since 1985 and given our past record 37 years is a long time to wait but UCD are a quality side so I expect it will be very tough.

“Losing the 2018 final with the last kick of the game was heart-breaking. We will be huge underdogs this time but we’ll go out and give it everything.

“Its been a long season for the lads balancing this with our NIFL Championship campaign, but it’s great to be able to play with freedom in Colleges and Universities football.”

PATHS TO THE FINAL

Queens University Belfast

Quarter Final

DCU 0 Queens University Belfast 5 (John McGovern 3, Ronan Young + og).

Semi Final

Queens University Belfast 4 (John McGovern 3, Ronan Young) NUI Galway 0.

UCD

Quarter Final

UCD 3 (Ciaran Behan 2, Adam Lennon) UCC 0,

Semi Final

UCD 2 (Adam Lennon, Liam Kerrigan) Maynooth University 1 (Aaron McBride).

Final

Tuesday April 26

Queens University Belfast v UCD

Oriel Park (2.0)

THE final will be streamed live on the FAI YouTube Channel with full commentary from 1.45pm

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