DCU’s Ladies footballer’s season ended in heartbreak after they suffered a harrowing ten point defeat at the hands of Queen’s University Belfast at Waterford IT Sports Campus last Saturday.
DCU were appearing in their fourth final in five seasons, having won three-in-a-row from 2009-11, but they could not live with first-time finalists Queen’s during the second half.
The Belfast team hit the ground running with a well taken goal from the impressive Mairéad Cooper, seven minutes into the opening half. This was cancelled out by DCU’s Ellen McCarron after the Monaghan player hit a stinging shot to the top corner of the Queen’s net.
That was as good as it got however for the Dublin side in the first half with Queens taking complete control of proceedings for the remainder of the first half.
In the fifteenth minute, player of the match, Westmeath’s Ruth Kearney found the back of the net to restore Queen’s lead and this was an ominous sign of things to come for DCU.
Kearney’s second goal, five minutes before the interval was a sucker punch to DCU’s ambitions and they only managed to reply with one more point at the change of ends. Queen’s held a 3-02 to 1-05 lead by then.
If the crowd were expecting a comeback in the second half they would have been very disappointed. Queen’s were superior in every position and DCU just could not live with their northern opponents.
The first time finalists were tactically savvier and DCU had no response to their use of a sweeper in defence, allowing Queen’s extra space to burst forward.
Midway through the second half, the game was effectively over, when Louise Kelly rattled the net with Queen’s fourth goal of the game to give them an unassailable 4-6 to 1-7 lead.
DCU’s tally of four points in the second half was in complete contrast to their sizzling second half display in the semi-final. Their challenge visibly wilted after the fourth goal and the newly-crowned champions cruised to a landmark win.
Impressive Semi-final comeback:
The Dublin side were expected to regain their 2011 title after they recorded a very impressive victory over bitter rivals UL in the semi-final on the Friday.
Mark Fitzpatrick’s charges were staring down both barrels at half time, trailing by six points. However, DCU won the second half by 3-4 to 0-3 as they blasted out a serious statement of intent. UL’s second half collapse was unexpected as they were full value for their healthy half-time lead.
The goals came from Bríd O’Sullivan (Cork), Laura McEnaney (Monaghan) and Roisin Colleary (Sligo) in a second half goal scoring blitz.
Overall, DCU will be satisfied to have reached the final having lost many of their winning panel from 2011 and Fitzpatrick’s side can go into next year’s competition with this valuable experience under their belts.
Scorers in final:
Scorers for DCU: E McCarron 1-4 (0-1f), C McHugh (1f) & L Peat 0-2 each, B Walsh 0-1.
Scorers for Queen’s: R Kearney 2-3, M Cooper 1-1 (0-1f), L Kelly 1-1, F McKenna 0-3, C Scullion & N McKernan 0-1 each.
DCU team: M Guckian (Leitrim); A Towey (Mayo), L Peat (Dublin), A Barrett (Dublin); S Greene (Cavan), L Collins (Dublin), A Brady (Westmeath); C McManamon (Mayo), B Walsh (Galway); C Hegarty (Mayo), L McEnaney (Monaghan), C McHugh (Roscommon); E McCarron (Monaghan), R Colleary (Sligo), B O’Sullivan (Cork).
Sub: L Ryder (Mayo) for Collins, C O’Brien (Offaly) for McHugh, L McCann (Meath) for Hegarty.