The DCU soccer team will know the identity of their opponents – and hosts – in the Umbro CUFL Premier Division quarter-final this afternoon. Although the draw for the knockout stages was held in FAI headquarters last Friday, DCU were drawn against the winners of the Premier Division North, and that group has yet to be decided.
Third place University of Ulster Jordanstown (UUJ) take on Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster Magee host second place Belfast Metropolitan College this afternoon in the group’s final ties, the outcome of which will determine what teams progress to the knock-out stages. As it stands, Letterkenny IT are top on nine points, Belfast Metropolitan College and UUJ both have six, with the former ahead on goal difference.
Belfast Metropolitan College appear to be in the best position to take the group, via goal difference. A win today would put them level on points with Letterkenny IT, who have played all their matches. And, given they have the same goal difference as the current group leaders, the assumption would be that they’d finish in pole position.
UUJ are two behind on goal difference, so a win this afternoon is imperative if they are to stand any chance of qualification. They are, however, in the fortunate position of playing last placed Queen’s, who lost all three of their matches and have a morbid goal difference of minus five.
From DCU’s perspective, the hope would be that Letterkenny IT get the short end of the stick, as they have, for the most part, acquitted themselves well thus far and reached the penultimate stage last season. No doubt, the DIT coaching staff, much like Declan Roche and his backroom team, will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of proceedings today, as the group runners-up await them.
Elsewhere, winners of the Premier Division South and current champions Carlow IT were drawn against UL from the Premier Division West. UL actually finished dead even with last year’s finalists Athlone IT, but the latter were drawn first, earning a home quarter-final against Waterford IT.
If DCU progress to the semi-final, they will meet the winner of Carlow IT and UL. The hope would be that UL pull off a major upset; the champions won all five of their group games and finished with a staggering goal difference of +18. In turn, the winner of DIT and runner up of Premier Division North will face the victor of Athlone IT and Waterford IT.
The draw was made in Abbotstown by Terry Cassin of Umbro Ireland and Ireland Under-19 manager Paul Doolin. The quarter-finals will be held on Wednesday, January 30th and the semi-finals are set for the week beginning February 18th, to be played in neutral venues. A date for the final is yet to be decided.