Dynamic midfielders Liam Casey and Colm O'Riordan guided UCD to a comprehensive Independent.ie division 1 league semi-final victory to the despair of Maynooth University amid heavy fog at the Kildare college's campus on Tuesday evening last.
Casey was industrious, especially in how he crafted attacking threats but his Tipperary counterpart stood out as a possible man-of-the-match. O'Riordan's audacious catches from kick-outs held the sizeable crowd that had gathered in awe. Yet in the second half, UCD found complacency in their ten-point lead and Colm Basquel, who claimed 1-6 in all, was the only poacher to keep the tempo up for UCD as he closed the game with a string of four points.
Maynooth employed a ten-men blanket defence at times during the first half and although Ciarán Sheridan and Chris Gillian thwarted the UCD advances, Stephen Coen and Brian Harnan were quick to drift forward and smother any counterattacks.
Intensity characterised the first-half as UCD grappled with the formidable defence before them. Seán Dempsey showed positive signs for Maynooth as the home-side's sole scorer landed two points to keep tabs on UCD's 0-4 tally on 11 minutes. But UCD struck back with a vigorous six-minute scoring streak, when UCD completed a haul of 1-3. A crescendo of points from Seán Meade, Colin O'Riordan and Colm Basquel preceded Basquel's brilliant goal on 18 minutes (1-7 to 0-2).
While Seán Dempsey attempted to lift the siege imposed on Maynooth, Seán Meade wriggled through to bag a second UCD major. Amid a few off-the-ball scuffles, the sides traded blows on the scoreboard too, which gave UCD a 2-8 to 0-4 halftime advance.
Seán Dempsey cut Maynooth's deficit within a minute of the restart with a pointed free but a twelve-minute scoring drought for both sides led to a bland second-half.
In response to a UCD brace of points! Dempsey buried a penalty for Maynooth, which was awarded by referee Fergal Kelly subsequent to a foul on Patrick Byrne. Colm Basquel answered that blow with a sparkling claim of 0-4 to wrap up the spoils and UCD and set up an All-Ireland league final against DCU/NUI Galway next week.
UCD - Ryan Haughey, Seán Conlon, Seán Mullooly, Eoin Murchan, Eoin Lafferty, Stephen Coen, Brian Harnan, Liam Casey (0-1), Colin O'Riordan (0-1), Jake Malone, Brian Byrne (0-2, 1 free), Dylan Kilgallon, Conor McCarthy (0-2), Colm Basquel (1-6), Seán Meade (1-2).
NUIM - Bob Fitzgerald, Barra McCarthy, Aidan Brennan, Matthew Taggart, Chris Gillian, Ciarán Sheridan, Derry Bradley, Brian O'Connell, Tom Hanaffin, Cathal Maguire, Seán Dempsey (1-5, 1-0 pen., 0-3 frees), Henry Walsh, Cathal Dunne, Evan O'Carroll, Patrick Byrne.
Referee - Fergal Kelly (Longford).