Sitting pretty at the top of the CUFL Premier Division East, DCU are within touching distance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition for the first time in its present incarnation.
Declan Roche’s men have amassed the maximum nine points from their opening three league encounters; beating UCD and Coláiste Íde 3-0 and 3-1 respectively at St. Clare’s and IT Blanchardstown in last week’s 2-1 away victory with a last minute Michael Isichei penalty sealing victory.
The Blanchardstown game was the first genuine spell of adversity DCU have had to navigate this season. Despite playing all the productive football, they were a goal behind after 25 minutes courtesy of Darren Keogh and it was close to the 70th minute before Stephen Traynor managed to equalise. While pursuing the winner Mark Logan was sent off, and DCU had to lay the host’s box under siege before Isichei’s spot kick guaranteed the points.
Soccer development officer, Fran Butler, commended the player’s perseverance, “They were patient, they kept playing the football, they didn’t panic and eventually they got a welldeserved equaliser. They kept pushing for the winner and despite being down to ten men got the penalty in the dying minutes,” he said.
As it stands DCU are three points clear of DIT and UCD who are both on six points, and sit in second and third place respectively; DIT have the far superior goal difference. Incidentally, DCU also have the league’s best goal difference, having scored eight and only conceded two.
IT Tallaght come to St. Clare’s a week from today, at the bottom of the table without a win.
This will mean little to the DCU players remaining from last year, as a 2-1 loss in the corresponding fixture meant the end of their qualification prospects. IT Tallaght have nothing to lose, and without Mark Logan at the vanguard, due to his suspension, it’s a potential banana skin.
Declan Roche and his coaching staff will be curious to hear how DIT’s trip to Coláiste Íde and UCD’s fortunes in Blanchardstown unfold on the same day. Coláiste Íde and IT Blanchardstown are both essentially out of the race, so they may present a similar threat to that of Tallaght. Well, here’s hoping.
DCU go to DIT on November 20th for the final game, without a crystal ball it is hard to say how the table will look. What is for sure is that DIT comfortably won their first two fixtures before slipping up in Belfield a week ago, and with a far larger playing pool have the potential to rain on DCU’s parade.
All games are must wins from here on out, with a first place finish guaranteeing a home draw against a second seeded side for the quarter-finals.
It’s still all to play for.