Disappointment, anguish and pain; emotions that were etched across the faces of each of the DCU players and management after the two point defeat to UCD in the Fresher ‘A’ All-Ireland league final.
The Northsiders found themselves in all sorts of bother early on as they were outmuscled, outfought and outplayed throughout the field. Consequently, the winners opened up a seven-point lead, but DCU managed to reduce the deficit to four points by the interval through some industrious forward play by Garry Kelly and Conor McHugh.
DCU manager Ross Munnelly told The College View that going behind by such a margin in the first half, ultimately cost his team the match.
“We probably left ourselves too much to do really, seven points is an awful lot at this level. If you’re giving away a seven point lead to players of that standard, you’re always going to struggle to get that back.”
Two goals from the aforementioned Conor McHugh leveled matters at the change of ends, but crucially, DCU were unable to edge their noses in front. UCD regained the initiative thereafter, carving out a three-point lead going into injury time.
Munnelly felt that had DCU been only two points behind when their second goal went in, it would have given them the lead and more of an initiative.
“If the deficit was only two points and the goal put us a point up, it would have given us a greater initiative and a launchpad, but unfortunately it just wasn’t to be.”
Looking ahead to the championship, Munnelly said that the team needs to learn to better deal with high-pressure situations.
“As a team we need to be a bit more organised when the pressure comes on but we’ll take responsibility for that on the management team as well.”
The Laois man went on to praise his charges’ resilience stating: “Credit to the lads, they were awesome. A positive going into the championship is that this team is resilient; when the chips were down they fought back. We’ll re-group now and assess the squad for the championship.”