UCD emerged from a hotly-contested battle of the Independent.ie Freshers hurling division league table-toppers as they got the better of DCU at the northsiders' venue on Wednesday afternoon last.
With the advantage of the elements for the opening half, DCU had provided a sweeter style of hurling and dominated for the most part. However, DCU felt the absence of Seán Grey in the second half. The Dublin county minor poacher had landed 0-4 (3 frees) in all but a head injury just before the interval meant that he had to be rested. The decision of UCD captain James Maher to play into the gale for the first half was justified by their purple-patch in the third quarter. For all their industry, when DCU's Peter Hogan snatched a lucky goal six minutes shy of full-time, there was just a goal between them. That tight margin gave rise to a frenetic finish where UCD just about held firm.
The opening throes of Wednesday's game were lorded by DCU. Although Joe Mellerick interrupted twice, the home side lodged seven points as Seán Grey (2, 1 free), Peter Hogan (2), Billy Hanlon, Gary Howard and Pádraig Foley obliged to make it 0-7 to 0-3 on 17 minutes in favour of DCU. For the duration of the game, DCU's main impetus was generated by Dáire Barden and Pádraig Foley. But Foley's method was matched ounce for ounce by his Crossabeg-Ballymurn clubmate Bill Eviston. UCD were notably strongest down the middle and the key position of centre-back was commanded by Ballyboden-St. Enda's clubman James Madden. Some late points from Paul O'Connor and John Joe Ryan narrowed UCD's halftime deficit to 0-10 to 0-8. DCU's lead could have easily been inflated were it not for the stunning ball-stopping skills of UCD's netminder Darragh Holohan.
After the restart, both sides traded blows. Within five minutes though, Eoghan O'Naoire announced the UCD spell of resurgence with a peach of a point. James Maher followed suit to tie things up and on 38 minutes UCD substitute Shane O'Brien received a clever pass from Paul O'Connor to rattle Barry Cushen's net. Subsequent to a string of UCD points, Pádraig Foley struck with a 47th minute pointed free to cut the gap to 1-13 to 0-12. The decision to move Foley back to the half-back line had a galvanising effect for DCU. Even though UCD added a couplet of points to their lead, Peter Hogan was about to retaliate for DCU. Darragh Holohan had repelled a few shots but Hogan's sly shot to the bottom left-hand corner found Holohan off-guard. Once Hogan had got a sniff at the posts, he was frothing at the mouth. The Waterford poacher's next attempt blazed to the right and wide, which elicited gasps from the crowd that had gathered at DCU's sports grounds. Eoghan Ó Naoire, who had risen to the challenge offered by DCU at centre-field, stretched UCD's lead to four. But the brazen DCU men struck back with a trio of points to leave UCD in a precarious state as the seconds of injury-time ticked down. However, hopes of a DCU comeback were dashed by Shane O'Brien who sallied over a point to claim the spoils for UCD. DCU are still in line for a semi-final spot while UCD face formidable opposition once more as they travel to NUI Galway on Thursday week for a closing-round game while DCU travel to Carlow IT.
DCU - Barry Cushen, Lee Richardson, James Tyrell (capt.), Conor Creane, Jamie Gilmartin, Eoin O'Donnell, Conor Sheeren, Jamie McDonald, Daire Barden (0-2), Seán Grey (0-4, 3 frees), Billy Hanlon (0-1), Pádraig Foley (0-2, 1 free), Gary Howard (0-1), Peter Hogan (1-5, 0-2 frees), Podge Doran.
Referee - Declan Moloney (St. Brigid's).
Video captured by Michael Hamilton. Interviewees: Bill Eviston (Wexford), Jack Mullaney (Waterford) and Donncha Ó Murchú (Dublin).