A chance to defend their crown and secure a third Sigerson title in four years awaits DCU’s footballers following this comfortable – and thoroughly deserved – victory over UCD on Thursday afternoon last.
In front of a decent gathering, the reigning champions produced a workmanlike performance in sweeping aside the challenge of their city rivals.
Moreover, not only did Niall Moyna’s charges come through this quarter-final assignment with flying colours, they overcame UCD with enough skill, conviction and determination to give followers of the navy and yellow genuine hopes that they can complete the two-in-a-row this weekend.
Having overcome UL and QUB with relative ease in their prior outings, there was some concerns that DCU might be caught out on this occasion – heightened by the absence of Ballymun Kickhams pair James McCarthy and Dean Rock – instead they were full value for a 10-point victory. They should have even won by more, had they showed a real ruthless streak after UCD were reduced to 13 men.
In spite of the testing underfoot conditions, this was a composed battling display from a DCU side led by the ever-impressive Michael Murphy.
The Donegal sharpshooter was the perfect target-man and fired over frees from a variety of angles and distances. Murphy hit 1-4 in total and his first-half penalty strike was certainly a turning point in proceedings.
It was by no means a one man show however and the full-forward has a pretty decent support cast to call upon in the likes of Paul Flynn – the contributor of 1-1 – Donnie Smith and Chris McGuinness. Midfielders Fiontan O’Curraoin and Peter O’Hanlon made some superb catches, although a nasty shoulder injury sustained by the latter will be of deep concern to the management ahead of the trip to Athlone.
Further back the field, Johnny Cooper put in a rock solid hour’s work at full back. Conor Daly and Michael Quinn mopped up a huge amount of ball on the flanks while Jack Brady continues to impress in the centre-back berth.
There was an all-round strength to this team performance which delighted the home following and, truth be told, the result was never really in doubt once Paul Flynn fired home DCU’s second goal entering the final quarter.
Playing into the teeth of a strong wind, DCU made a breakthrough in the first half when Murphy was hauled to the ground and then converted a penalty himself.
Up until that point, there was little or nothing to separate the two sides as UCD’s Niall Kilroy and Donnie Kingston traded efforts with Murphy (free) and Philly Ryan. Indeed, it was Kingston who posted the response to Murphy’s goal and the half-time scoreline of 1-2 to 0-3 was by no means an insurmountable target for the visitors.
Kingston was again on target early in the second half, his effort sandwiched by terrific points from Murphy and Paul Flynn. Murphy’s effort was of an outlandish nature as he dummied Rory O’Carroll before dissecting the posts with the outside of the right boot. The large applause from all quarters said it all.
UCD’s mountain was steepening all the time and their cause wasn’t helped by the sending-off of corner forward Kevin McLaughlin for a second yellow card offence.
Compounding matters, they were then reduced to 13 men when Kingston was a shown a red card on 43 minutes and Flynn’s strike thereafter all but ended the game as a contest.
DCU, by this juncture, were at their enterprising best, winning primary ball all over the field, working it cleverly into shooting positions and popping over a string of points from both open play and frees.
UCD would add to their tally only once in the final quarter, but there was no shortage of scores at the other end as Donnie Smith, Brian Donnelly, Michael Murphy and Conor McGraynor swelled the winners tally.
So, it’s off to Athlone this weekend where DIT provide the semi-final opposition, but it’s hard to envisage this DCU outfit coming out second best to any college. Are they an unstoppable force? So far, there has been no evidence to the contrary.
Eoghan Cormican at St. Clare’s
DCU: J Farrelly, W Lowry, J Cooper, C Boyle, C Daly, J Brady, M Quinn, F O’Curraoin, P O’Hanlon, P Flynn (1-1), C McGuinness (0-1), A McFadden, D Smith (0-1), M Murphy (1-4, 1-0 pen, 0-3 frees), P Ryan (0-1); Subs: M McCarthy for Ryan (HT), G Sweeney for McFadden (HT), B Donnelly (0-1) for O’Hanlon (40), C McGraynor (0-1) for Flynn (54), E Doherty for Quinn (59).
UCD: E Keogh, J Hayes, R O’Carroll, M Furlong, L Keaney, C Lenihan, D Drake, J Heslin, C Dias, N Murray (0-1), D Larkin, N Kilroy (0-1), K McLoughlin, P Cahillane, D Kingston (0-3, 0-1 free); Subs: R Basquel for Larkin (HT), S Cadden (0-1) for Cahillane (48), C Boyle for Kilroy (54).