All-Ireland Third Level (Corn Na Mac Leinn) Final
Liverpool Hope University 2-14
UUM – Magee, Derry 1-08
By Larry Cooney
At TCD Sportsgrounds, Santry
Liverpool Hope University are this year’s Corn Na Mac Leinn winners after a thoroughly deserved nine-point victory over UUM – Magee, Derry in sunny Santry last Saturday morning.
It is the first time this silverware has crossed the Irish Sea and the Liverpool students also become the first team since St. Mary’s, Strawberry Hill won an historic Trench Cup in 2004 to claim a title in Third Level GAA competition.
Liverpool Hope also had to come from behind before claiming their famous victory after they trailed by 0-6 to 0-4 at half-time.
And although their recovery was not quite as dramatic as their semi-final victory on the previous day against the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI) it was even far more emphatic that reflected on the final score-line.
Both teams were also showing the result of their semi-final exertions from the previous day as the contest took a while to unfold in the opening half.
But the winners were clearly looking second-best for much of that opening period and had to rely on the inspiration of captain Garvan Jones as well as the ability of full forward Corey Ranaghan and man-of-the-match Peter Herron for the vital scores to keep them in contention.
However, on the resumption a completely re-energised Liverpool Hope emerged to turn the tables and contest on its head beginning with the first of two second half goals from Peter Herron five minutes after the re-start.
Although Magee never gave up they were effectively out of contention by the time Diarmuid Gallagher pounced on a dropping ball in the parallelogram for a second goal five minutes later to put Liverpool Hope six points clear and on their way to an historic victory.
Comprising almost entirely of Ulster men with the exception of Sligo native and wind back Diarmuid Gallagher, Liverpool Hope defended the pavilion end in the opening half.
In the first of a ‘triple-header’ preceding the Trench and finally Sigerson Cup finals, the playing surface was in remarkably good condition despite all the heavy overnight rainfall.
However, both teams struggled to get to grips with the contest in the early exchanges and there were moments in the opening quarter when fatigue and fitness might deny Liverpool Hope once again.
But it was their experience just as much as their ability that finally ended the British-based students’ long wait for glory and that fact was also well and truly reflected by the winners’ joy at the final whistle.
Although Conor McEvoy opened the scoring from a Garvan Jones assist in the eight minute Liverpool Hope spent much of the opening quarter on the back-foot.
Three points from Aidan McLaughlin in between points from Conor McErlain and Bobby Mullan opened up a 0-5 to 0-1 lead before Ryan Jones responded with a welcome point after seventeen minutes.
Corey Ranaghan and Chris Lowry then traded pointed frees before Karl McCallion kicked an inspirational solo point for Hope in the 25th minute to close the scoring in the first half and leave the half-time score: Magee 0-6 Hope 0-4.
But there was only one team in it in the second half and after Corey Ranaghan cut the deficit to the minimum three minutes after the resumption the Liverpool students took over with Garvan Jones and Karl McCallion dominating midfield.
With just a Bobby Mullan pointed free in response to Peter Herron’s goal and point, Hope kicked 1-5 without reply to open up an eight-point lead.
Athough Padraig Conlan got behind the Hope defence in the 52nd minute for a goal the winners closed out the result with four more unanswered points in reply to a solitary Chris Lowry point.
Herron received the Man-of- the-Match accolade and team captain Garvan Jones was presented with the Corn Na Mac Leinn by Galway man Tom Hyland from Roinn Ard Oideachais.
Liverpool Hope manager Luke O’Brien, said: “It’s great feeling now that we have finally won this title and it has taken some disappointments along the way but as they proved in the semi-final when four points in arrears and a man down late in the game they are never beaten.”
SCORERS: Liverpool Hope – Peter Herron 1-3, Corey Ranaghan 0-4, Diarmuid Gallagher 1-1, Garvan Jones (0-1)f and Karl McCallion 0-2 each, John Mulgrew and Conor McEvoy 0-1 each. MAGEE – Aidan McLaughlin 0- 3, Padraig Conlan 1-0, Chris Lowry (0-1)f and Bobby Mullan (0-1)f 0-2 each and Conor McErlain 0-1.
LIVERPOOL HOPE: Eoghan Rua Lambert; Fiontan Eastwood, Jonathan Hardy, Eoin King; Conor Boyle, David Lowry, Diarmuid Gallagher; Garvan Jones (capt.), Karl McCallion; Caomhan Boyle, Shay Cadden, Callum Frempong; Peter Herron, Corey Ranaghan, Conor McEvoy. Subs: John Mulgrew for Corey Ranaghan 59.
MAGEE: Cillian Butler; Michael Maguire, Paul Maguire, Lee Martin; Sheagh McLoughlin, Malachy Campbell, Aiden McLaughlin; Chris McAfee, Tony Devine; Chris Lowry, Bobby Mullan, James Toye; Conor McErlain, Ryan Masterson, James Brown. Subs: Conor McCallion for Ryan Masterson 48, Ryan Boyle for Chris Lowry 57.
REFEREE: David Coady (Kildare).