A superb performance from the DCU Fresher Football team saw the side run out one-point winners over city rivals UCD in the All-Ireland final on Thursday last.
Manager Ross Munnelly expressed his delighted following the narrrow victory: “I’m absolutely thrilled for DCU first and foremost, it’s always important that the university is really well represented,” he said, “It’s great to see DCU crowned All Ireland champions.”
Munnelly, who was entrusted with the responsibility of taking charge of the multi-talented group of Freshers, paid homage to the effort his side put in to carve out the victory.
“They were fantastic all year. They were really hurting after losing the League final to UCD. We certainly knew that if we applied ourselves and got our work done, that we’d hopefully get a chance to redeem ourselves. And I think it was fitting for the competition to have the two best teams in the final. I couldn’t praise our players enough, they were absolutely fantastic.”
The campaign for Munnelly’s side was by no means a stroll, the ‘defining moment’ of which was there extra-time victory in Jordanstown where they overcame UUJ.
“Going to extra time up there and winning, from that day on we really believed we could do business at the end of this championship.”
He did admit though that lessons were learned from the League campaign, in particular the league final.
“I’m particularly happy for Enda Smith, for example, who, in the last couple of minutes in the league final had a chance to take a point but went for goal instead. We got nothing from it. Whereas, when a goal opportunity fell his way [on Thursday] in injury time, he buried it and completely banished any disappointment for himself over the League final.”
When asked whether the result was a fair reflection on the season he had this to say: “Absolutely, [the players] represented DCU with great regard right throughout the league and championship. To get to both finals and to lose the league by two points and to win the championship final by a point, I think that reflects the two best teams in the competition were UCD and DCU and we’re just thrilled to have come out on top.”
This phenomenal feat will go down in DCU history, so it’s important to acknowledge those behind the scenes. Eager to highlight his backroom staff, Munnelly also thanked Paul O’Connor (Sport Science) and Ken Robinson (DCU Sport).
Keeping with the grass roots approach evident throughout the university, he also praised students Ryan O’Flaherty (Ed Training) and Paddy Flynn (Science Ed). The coaching staff has been an integral part of the sides successes and achievements this year and here’s hoping next year’s Fresher side can produce a similar performance in the championship.
“You can never tell it’s an entirely new group,” said Munnelly, “We’ll probably have 100 or so lads for trials next September.”
For this year however, the championship campaign comes to a fitting end for Ross Munnelly and his charges.