Naturally, the Fresher A outfit was the GAA team that received most of the attention last week, after getting revenge on their city rivals UCD in the All-Ireland final. However, one of the factors that make any ‘A’ team successful is the sight of a powerful force in the ‘B’ ranks. This can certainly be said for DCU, as the Fresher B team overcame UCC in their All-Ireland Championship Final last Tuesday.
The game in Thurles finished on a scoreline of 1-12 to 1-09 in favour of DCU, meaning that DCU freshers have now won the All-Ireland ‘B’ Championship on three consecutive occasions. Manager Brendan Gillen was elated with this fact:
“Three in a row, you get lucky. I’m thrilled with that but each year it’s down to the panel that you have. We only facilitate them. We have a group of talented young footballers that come in here every year and they give their commitment to DCU. They showed the character as well as the talent this year. Without a strong squad, we wouldn’t be winning championships.”
The commitment that the manager spoke about was certainly on show last week. However, fitness and mental strength also played a part.
“We deserved to win but it was a hard, tough, competitive match. I think our superior fitness, teamwork and scoring power told as the match progressed and it showed the character of the team that, despite conceding goals and scores at crucial times, we kept coming back to put a few points between the teams.”
UCC’s goal was a vital moment in the game. It might have been the catalyst for a comeback, but the goal that DCU had netted minutes prior to that proved instrumental as Gillen explained:
“The goal gave us breathing space and that put us four to five points ahead with about 10, 15 minutes left. Now, we did concede a goal after that which put the game back in the melting pot, but our defence stepped up and saw us through the last few minutes. When the game was close, they stood up and that reflects the character and talent that’s within the group.”
Brendan Gillen didn’t just give the plaudits to his players, though. He also pointed out the fact that he was joined by a dedicated team on the sideline.
“On the coaching side we have Ray Wheatley who works in DCU. We then have two students, Josh Warde and Gavin Cawley, our selectors, who have a huge input into training, putting the right structure in place and making sure everything is in place for the team on the day.”