The DCU Fresher team, led by Soccer Development Officer, Fran Butler, and his assistant Ben Kelly, defeated NUI Maynooth 2-1 in the Harding Cup Plate final at the University of Ulster Coleraine last Sunday.
Captain, Jack McCarthy, hoisted the plate- the third in the university’s history- after an evenly matched encounter with Maynooth; David Brick‘s winner did not come until six minutes from time, up to that point all bets were off. DCU went ahead five minutes from the break through a Rashad Al Harazy header, which was cancelled out by Keith Boyle in the 79th minute.
When Brick’s decisive strike finally came, DCU had enough savvy to shut-up shop, close out the tie and secure the silverware.
The weekend had a far from idyllic beginning for DCU, losing to NUI Galway by 3-0 in the quarter-final of the Harding Cup Trophy on Friday morning. DCU dominated much of the territory and possession, however, three unforced defensive errors provided NUIG ample opportunity to snatch the victory, with Sean O’Boyle netting a brace and Rory Gartlan grabbing the third.
DCU then directed their attention to Saturday’s plate semi-final against UL, who had lost their cup quarter-final by 5-1 to eventual winners UCD.
On this occasion, DCU demonstrated the ruthlessness in front of goal which had been lacking against NUIG. Adam Walsh gave UL the lead on the half hour mark, Connor Byrne then grabbed an all-important equaliser on the stroke of half time. The second period opened like much of the first had played out, with neither team exerting sustained periods of dominance.
DCU killed the game scoring three goals in an eight minute purple patch just after an hour. Connor Ralph struck first with a 30 yard thunder bolt into the top corner, Darren Craven then finished off a sweeping counter attack, before Eoin Leech’s header ended the tie as a contest.
Victory in Sunday’s final may prove to be a telling omen in what has so far been a banner season for DCU soccer, and at least eight of these players can consider themselves candidates for the senior squad with CUFL semi-final against IT Carlow fast approaching, and by extension the Collingwood Cup at the end of the month. The future looks bright.
The FAI announced that DCU will play IT Carlow on Wednesday, February 20th at Home Farm FC, Whitehall. Kick-off is at 2pm. The winner will face DIT, who defeated IT Athlone by 3-2 at the Parnells all-weather pitch, Coolock.