In a game as tight as this was, the margin for error is miniscule; neither side can afford to blink for fear of the one small slip that could have devastating repercussions. This also applies to referees.
This Collingwood Cup semi-final-which was played to a scintillating standard-should not have been decided on a penalty that never was. Steve Mahon’s spot kick in the 74th minute was awarded based on a clear dive from Josh O’Shea after minimal or no contact form Rory Dunleavy and, how exactly this was not evident to the referee or his second official is boggling. That Ben Dale managed to get finger tips on Mahon’s low drive must have been all the more sickening for DCU.
Had this been an isolated incident of poor officiating it could be forgiven, but the fact is, that all the matches have been littered with poor, inconsistent and often ludicrous decisions by referees. Coupled with the disgraceful pitch conditions in UUJ, that were a genuine threat to player safety, the IUFU need to make a number of amendments regarding organisation ahead of next year’s centenary tournament in UCD.
As a spectacle this match was pleasure to watch; both teams played to win and attacked with gusto whenever it was permitted. UCC started the stronger and in the opening 25 minutes DCU looked a little sluggish. However, this dominance only yielded a speculative lob from Josh O’Shea that sailed over Ben Dale’s goal.
In the final fifteen minutes of the half DCU woke from their lethargy, finding their stride. Traynor’s passing was accurate and Mark Logan was a consistent threat, marauding up and down the touchline, as well as peppering the UCC box with crosses or from the dead ball. David Lodola was again, magnificent; winning every header and running the channels tirelessly. By half time DCU should have been one up with Daniel Ahern’s shot going just wide after Lodola had flicked on a Traynor free kick.
For much of the second period there was little between the teams. Philip Kavanagh had efforts from Distance for DCU, but he failed to get any register on the ball (a consequence of condition of the pitch) that would trouble Michael Dorgan.
When the penalty was awarded there was a series of unsavoury scenes that could and should have been avoided. DCU’s heads did not drop though, and came at UCC in wave after wave, but they were unable to level the tie. UCC did their best to stifle DCU with a number of cynical fouls in the final minutes, which was not befitting of a game of this magnitude.
The DCU players gave a colossal effort this week and represented their University admirably, they have CUFL Premier League final still to play against DIT on March 13th; they’re worth a watch.
Tom Rooney at UUJ