By DECLAN ROONEY
UL captain Eimear Scally praised the efforts of DJ Collins’s squad as his side turned on the style to become Gourmet Food Parlour O’Connor Cup winners for the second time in three years.
UL were totally dominant throughout the weekend’s action and after their 22-point triumph over Queens in the semi-final they bossed league champions UCD in the decider.
Cork forward Scally was the fulcrum of their attack and she kicked seven points in Saturday’s final at Grangegorman, while Fiona McHale and Hannah O’Donoghue fired the crucial goals in the second-half. There was a late reply from Chloe Foxe for UCD, but it was a terrific defensive effort from UL and the hunger to fight for each other that stood out for the captain.
“I think there was a few games between championship and league and it was a bit wishy washy with us, but the last few games we have been improving,” said Scally.
“The main thing was work-rate and leadership. It was steady throughout. We really grew into the game and we put the foot down the whole time.
“We had ten different scorers in the semi final. I don’t know how many we got today but you can rely on everyone to take a score.”
The windy conditions ensured UL had the advantage at the interval, but a 0-9 to 0-5 lead at that stage was unlikely to be enough. Instead of retreating into their defensive shells UL stretched their lead in the second period with the outstanding Laurie Ryan and Shauna Molloy driving them from defence.
In Aine McDonagh, UCD had a player in form and she kept her side in the final with a consistent flow of points, but their manager Conor Barry lamented the mistakes that were punished severely.
“We had a tough semi-final against UCC and it took a lot out of us, but at the same time there was nothing short effort wise,” said Barry.
“I think mistakes cost us the game. Full credit to UL they were so clinical when we made the mistakes. You can’t give a team that good those opportunities.”
Even if UCD hadn’t slipped up on occasion you’d have to concede that UL were the better side. Their incredible fitness levels were added to by Collins and his backroom team and he was thrilled with the manner of his side’s victory.
“To see the performance we put in was great,” said Collins. “We let ourselves down badly in the league final. We had a good look at ourselves in January and started correcting things. It didn’t go smoothly but the girls worked so hard.
“All the girls are playing inter-county so we can’t take all the credit of this. It’s about minding them, looking after them and making sure they enjoy it when they come in to us.
“We knew this morning when we were in the room in the hotel that none of us would ever be in that situation together again. It changes, that’s the nature of college sport. You have to keep reinventing every year, but you have to have your values and your style of play is passed from one generation to the next.”
Meanwhile, UUJ are the Gourmet Food Parlour Giles Cup champions for the first time in their history after victory over WIT.
Armagh’s Aimee Mackin was in devastating form with a 2-11 haul for her side as last year’s Lynch Cup winners eased their way to the 2-17 to 1-9 win.
And in the Lynch Cup Technological University Dublin claimed victory over Garda College on a 3-16 to 3-8 scoreline. Two goals from Caoimhe O’Connor sealed the win for the competition hosts.Tweet