DCU faced University of Ulster Jordanstown in the first semi-final of the All-Ireland Intermediate football championship on Wednesday last. With a place in the final up for grabs, the Dublin outfit came out victorious on a score line of 1-08 to 0-09.
The two-point victory in Silverbridge was an arduous task, with difficulties surrounding the side before the game even commenced. Tommy Conroy, coach of the DCU side, outlined such complications:
“Well we only had 16 players. Alan Coyne, Secretary of the GAA club, went in after Daniel McNally got injured and did a great job for us, distracting the opposition to no end.
There were fellas that were injured and there were fellas that were involved with Under-21 teams. This is just the demand that is being put on players.”
The notion that a strong squad is essential in the modern game was made a mockery of by Conroy’s charges considering the paper-thin panel at his disposal. It made the victory all the sweeter:
“To be honest with you, and I’m not just saying this, it was an unbelievable victory, unreal. To go up there with 16 players and to come away with a win is just heroic. It really is. It’s one of the best wins I’ve ever been involved in. I got great satisfaction out of it for the lads. It’s incredible to go all the way up to Newry with a lot of injuries and cry-offs.
I’m delighted for all the lads involved and even all the other guys that were injured and didn’t make it, I don’t know whether their minds were somewhere else or not. But for the guys that went up on the bus, and went there and to fight the way they did and battled the way they did was fantastic.”
However, it wasn’t just on the pitch that the players battled. Conroy also spoke about the recruitment that the players carried out prior to the game in order to field a side.
“Only for a couple of guys that we made calls to around the campus, we wouldn’t have had a team.
Guys got on the phone and asked lads if they’ve got their boots and if they’ll come out and play. We picked up three players, which is fantastic. It is great to see and if we could get that more, it would be great.”
Carlow IT were the victors of the other semi-final and will be the final obstacle in DCU’s path towards another piece of silverware.
“They [DCU] will possibly have to fight even harder now. Obviously Carlow are a very good side, we played them during the league and I have no doubt they’ll be well organized”
Meanwhile, Conroy didn’t seem too frustrated about the ineligibility of players such as Conor McGraynor who, despite playing a mere handful of minutes, did make an appearance for the Sigerson side and can therefore now not play for the Intermediates.
“Well that’s a problem but what do you do? It happened last year as well. I would be delighted for Conor and that’s my role really; to see players progress and go and play. It’s just a pity he didn’t play a little bit longer but that is inevitable, it happened last year too.
I think it’s something that needs to be looked alright but I just think it’s going to be an ongoing issue and you can only demand so much from players. There probably is a better way of dealing with it but how you do that I don’t know because you can see it even with Sigerson whereby, as much as DCU want the players, counties also want the players.”