DCU Fresher A Footballers’ passage to the league semi-finals was secured last week thanks in no small part to a controversial refereeing decision that saw what appeared to be a legitimate goal for Sligo IT ruled out.
Ross Munnelly’s men went on to win the game by two points after mounting a spirited second half comeback, in which they outscored their opponents by 0-14 to 0-7, but struggled for long phases of the encounter and Sligo can count themselves terribly unlucky to have come away empty-handed.
The major talking point of the game was referee Dermot Deasy’s decision to rule out a Sligo goal after only seven minutes, despite initially awarding the score. However, after his attention was brought to some loose netting on the goal line by a DCU official acting as umpire, the referee ruled that the ball had passed through the side netting.
After the game, Deasy said he thought it was a goal but conceded the umpire was in the better position and felt he had no choice but to disallow the effort by Sligo wingback Cathal Mulryan.
DCU’s failure to prevent Sligo getting close in on goal on that occasion was indicative of their first-half display as they struggled to cope with their Western opponents. After 20 minutes, DCU had only three points to their name with full forward Conor McHugh grabbing two and midfielder Enda Smyth pointing early on.
Possession was quickly worked to IT full-forward Nick Walsh who dispatched a clinical effort beyond Ross McCarrick in the home goal.
The visitors continued to dominate into the second-quarter and relentless pressure on the DCU goal yielded four further points. Conor McHugh issued the home side’s sole response as they trailed by 1-6 to 0-4 at the break.
But this DCU side had gone unbeaten in the competition thus far and it was clear they were determined to maintain that impressive record. Their secondhalf performance was a vast improvement on the first. Ciaran Byrne, who would finish up with four points, got his first less than 30 seconds after the restart.
Byrne was involved in DCU’s next score two minutes later, feeding Gavin Burke whose point made it a four point match.
As the hosts began to get an edge in midfield, scores quickly followed for half-forwards Paddy Kennelly and Niall Murphy, before Byrne went to town.
Sligo were able to stay in touch primarily due to the concession of silly frees by the DCU defence. When the impressive James Shaughnessy slammed over in injury time, the game was deadlocked at 0-16 to 1-13.
However, there was still time for Byrne to grab one more, edging DCU in-front, before winger Cameron Diamond followed suit to ensure DCU a hard-fought place in the league semi-finals.
DCU: Ross McCarrick; Cathal Finn, Tom Murphy, Ciaran Kerr, Mark Hughes, Johnny McGuigan, Cameron Diamond, Enda Smyth, Adam Flanagan, Gavin Burke, Niall Murphy, Paddy Kennelly, Conor McHugh, Ciaran Byrne, Ross McInerney.
IMAGE CREDIT: Sportsfile