pender-iffic finish to collingwood cup

23 February 2017

Ace marksman Daniel Pender headed a dramatic injury time winner for UCC at a wind and rain swept Maynooth University to help the Cork side edge out the holders UCD and regain the Irish Universities Collingwood Cup.

Pender's header in the fourth minute of time added on was a real heart breaker for the Belfield side who had come back from going a goal behind after just over the half hour mark to level matters with 15 minutes remaining.

It was the winger's fourth goal in three games of this stamina sapping four day competition after being on target in the 1-0 quarter final win over Trinity College and adding two further goals including the winner in the 3-2 semi final defeat of DCU.

UCC had the best of the opening half and Sean O'Callaghan put them in front with a cool finish to beat UCD 'keeper Niall Corbet from the penalty spot on 32 minutes after defender Josh Collins appeared to push Darragh Lucey and referee Peter O'Mahony immediately pointed to the penalty spot.

Timmy Molloy might have snatched a UCD opener minutes earlier with their best chance of the half but he put his shot over the bar after Conor Cannon won a header to set him up.

Cannon came close to an equaliser on the stroke of half time when Molloy's low cross into the six yard box reached him but he failed test goalkeeper Kevin O'Brien from close in.

UCD looked the brighter side after the break and showed a huge resolve to get back into the game but time and again they were thwarted by the top class defending of the Cork solid back four.

Central defenders skipper Sean O'Mahony and Sean McLoughlin were outstanding as they had been in all three games of this stamina sapping four day competition and McLoughlin deservedly picked up the Dr Tony O'Neill Player of the Tournament award for his performances in all three UCC games.

The Belfield sides persistence finally paid off with 15 minutes remaining when substitute Georgie Kelly got a head to Liam Scales flick on from a Molloy corner and placed his header out of O'Brien's reach for a deserved equaliser.

Minutes later Daire O'Connor had a great chance to put the holders ahead but he blazed his effort from the edge of the box well over. While shortly after Scales headed over from a Gary O'Neill free kick.

UCC then had manager Noel Healy sent from the line for what appeared to have been a disagreement with the match officials.

But the battle for this famous cup still wasn't over and UCC got back on top in the final ten minutes.

Lucey went close with a stunning drive that crashed off the UCD cross bar and and then just as the game looked like it was heading into extra time they struck with a winner.

Ben McAuliffe swung a dangerous corner into the UCD box and Corbet did well to punch clear under pressure.

But McAuliffe quickly got on to the ball again and from his cross into a packed goalmouth Pender somehow managed to get his head on it and turn it past Corbet for a famous winner.

UCC will now have the opportunity to go on and claim a famous double when they take on UCD in their first ever appearance in the Colleges and Universities Premier League Final at Home Farm FC Whitehall on Tuesday (7.0).

UCC: K O'Brien; J Buttimer, S O'Mahony, S McLoughlin, B McAuliffe; R Lynch, T Murphy; S O'Callaghan (D Dalton 89), D Pender, S Daly-Butz; D Lucey. Subs not used: D O'Gorman, M Murphy, D Hemmingway, A O'Brein, J Cullinane. C O'Hanlon.

UCD: N Corbet; D Tobin, J Collins, L Scales. S Coyne; G Sloggett (G Kelly 65), G O'Neill; S Belhout (D O'Connor 70), T Molloy, J McClelland (C Feeney h-t); C Cannon. Subs not used: M Kouogun, J Dineen, G Sheridan, Y Mahdy.

Referee: P O'Mahony (Dublin).

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