By Damian Dolan
Liverpool is “blue again” declared John Moores manager Ciaran McGilligan after watching his side lift the Corn na Mac Leann Cup.
The British university champions defeated New York, 3-4 to 0-8, at Dublin City University Sportsgrounds on Saturday to end their long wait for All-Ireland success.
McGilligan predicts it could now usher in a period of dominance for the team after several near-misses in the past.
“The tide is turning – Liverpool is blue again and it’s going to stay blue for several years,” said the Derry native, who has been involved with the University GAA club for the past seven years – four as a player and three as manager.
“No team could keep goals out against us today – we’re so clinical.
“We don’t have the facilities, we train on a corridor of a quarter 3G soccer pitch and the goals are half the size, but we can still create goals playing 15-a-side matches.
“So whenever we get on the wide big pitch, it’s only a matter of time.”
The blue and gold were given the perfect start in Saturday’s final, finding the back of the New York net inside the first minute through Luke Ferguson, only for their opponents to get back on level terms by the break (1-3 to 0-6).
But second half goals from Brian Reilly – a fantastic solo effort – and Oisin McGee paved the way to victory, with New York restricted to just two second half points.
Joint captains Moores’ Tiernan Ruddy and Phelim Lennon lifted the cup.
“I remember saying in training that you maybe get once chance to win an All-Ireland medal in your whole life, and you’re going to have to take it,” said Ruddy.
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“I’m just glad we did take that chance, because you might never get it again.
“It’s a very tough competition, against Hope too, and it’s just nice to come through in the end.”
The Tyrone man added: “Luke Ferguson had a big game – he’s very sticky hands – and Jack Mullen couldn’t play today, but he’s one of the main men who got us here today.
“A brilliant crop of freshers came through this year and he was probably the cream of them.”
McGilligan applauded the “unbelievable character” of man of the match Danny McGill – son of 1994 Down All-Ireland winner Michael.
Praise echoed by Tiernan, who said: “When Danny gets on the ball he knows how dangerous he can be. It was nice to see him take the game into his own hands in the last 20 minutes, and it was up to the rest of the boys to see us over the line.”
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It was All-Ireland success at last for Moores, who came close to Trench Cup glory in 2007, only to be edged out by St Patrick’s Drumcondra by a point.
Moores reached Saturday’s decider thanks to an excellent comeback semi-final win over
Southern Regional College from Newry, by 0-13 to 0-10.
The British champions trailed by five points at one stage in the first half, but reduced that gap to just two by the break (0-8 to 0-5).
A strong second half showing then saw them limit the Newry side to just two second half points, as John Moores pulled away. A similar pattern to their win over New York.
The team included several players who also play for clubs in Britain – Michael Cunniffe (Tara, London), Conor Cullen (John Mitchel’s, Liverpool), Jason McVey (Liverpool Wolftones) and manager McGilligan, who also plays for John Mitchel’s.
Having denied neighbours and rivals Hope University the chance to make it three All-Ireland university titles in a row, John Moores’ victory maintained the dominance of British universities over the third-tier competition for a third consecutive year.
In 2014 Moores won the British Championship but it had already been decided that the League winners would represent Britain in that year’s All-Ireland.