05 February 2016
Two goals from Ilie Cocerhan gave University of Limerick a narrow 2-1 win over the Irish Universities Harding Cup holders UCC 'A' as the annual three day tournament for first year university students got under way at Mervue United All Weather surface in Galway.
This was a victory that UL manager Jamie Flynn will relish after suffering a 1-0 defeat to UCC 'A' in last years decider at the Mardyke.
The game began on a bright note for the Limerick side and Romanian born Cocerhan had them in front with a splendid drive from outside the box on 15 minutes.
The holders responded and Cork City man Craig Donnellan levelled before the interval.
Colm Murray in the UL goal kept his side in the game early after the break with two brilliant saves from Shane Daly Butz and Tom Sutcliffe before Cocerhan headed home the winner with 15 minutes remaining from a neatly taken Killian Hayes corner.
UCD will be the Limerick side's opponents in the semi final after they overwhelmed the UCC 'B' team 8-0 in a one sided quarter final tie also at Mervue.
A fine Daire O'Concubhair goal was all the Belfield side had to show for their first half superiority as the Cork boys continued to frustrate them.
UCC 'keeper Ken O'Brien saved well from Darragh Black and Josh Collins went close before O'Concubhair smashed a shot off the post but the score remained at 1-0 going into the second half.
However that was as good as it got for UCC and the flood gates opened in earnest after the resumption with first skipper Gary O'Neill adding a second and then a brace from Black make it 4-0.
Former Derry City Under 19 striker Georgie Kelly hit the fifth followed by three more goals from Robbie Nolan, Dan Tobin and O'Concubhair with his second of the game.
Meanwhile on the other side of Galway city in rather more testing conditions at the Dangan Sports Ground DCU surprised the home with a 5-0 victory.
Joshua Aimiuhi and Evan Murphy had the visitors in front before Galway 'keeper Kevin Horgan was red carded in the second half for handling the ball outside the box.
DCU quickly made their advantage pay and further goals from Aimiuhi, Cian O'Reilly and Philip Sheehan sent them comfortably into the semi final.
The Glasnevin side will face Maynooth University after they eventually got the better of a battling Trinity College also at Dangan.
Trinity had lead through a Brian Foley goal but Maynooth hit back to go 3-1 in front by the interval with top scorer Killian McManus grabbing two plus one from Sam Watkins.
A brilliant Jason Boateng effort gave Trinity some hope and they were unlucky not to draw level twice but failed to make the chances count.
Semi Final line up for Saturday February 6
DCU v Maynooth University
University of Limerick v UCD
Both games at Dangan Sports Ground kick off 2.30.
NUI Galway v Trinity College Dublin (10.30).
UCC 'A' v UCC 'B' (12.30).
Both games at Dangan Sports Ground.