DCU has had a great sporting year collegiately but the worldwide sporting landscape has also felt the impact of the college. Inter country GAA, international rugby and world athletics have all been areas where DCU graduates, and some current students, have excelled.
When ranking DCU students achievements over the past year you can’t really go any further than Donegal captain Michael Murphy. It’s hard to believe that the Donegal man is still a student given how long he has been playing top level GAA but the captaincy has gone well for him so far despite his relatively young age.
Murphy’s towering catch and thundering finish to the net set the tone for his county’s All Ireland final victory and his hoisting of the Sam Maguire afterwards was a just reward for what was a fantastic season.
Given his inter country exploits it was almost unfair to watch him run amok for DCU this year, maybe he should have been forced to play with ankle weights to level the playing field.
His DCU teammate Paul Flynn was another who had a successful season. While Dublin were prematurely ousted by Mayo in the quest to regain their All Ireland title, Flynn had a successful season on a personal level by picking up his second successive all star.
It wasn’t just footballers who were involved in an All Ireland final day. One of DCU’s most prolific hurlers, Padraig Breheny, was involved with the Galway panel that took Kilkenny to a replay last September. While he didn’t see the field of play, the U21 star gained invaluable experience watching the likes of Joe Canning day in and day out at training.
For years now Irish athletics has had a healthy DCU representation and this year was no different. DCU alumnus Fionnula Britton and current student Brian Gregan both had very strong seasons.
Britton is fast replacing Sonia O’Sullivan as one of the premier runners in Irish athletics and just like O’Sullivan she excels over the cross country distance. A gold medal in both the team and individual race at the European cross country championship was a great return for the DCU graduate.
She wasn’t finished there as she also took bronze in the 3000m at the European indoor
Unfortunately for current DCU student Brian Gregan his European indoor campaign came to a
painful end both literally and figuratively. Coming into the tournament Gregan had run the fastest indoor 400m in Europe for the season and hopes were high that he would bag a medal.
However another runner’s spike caught the back of his ankle midrace and the gash caused him to withdraw prematurely.
Gregan wasn’t the only person associated with DCU to have a mixed year. Former graduate Jamie Heaslip had the unenviable task of replacing Brian O’Driscoll as Ireland rugby captain. Despite a promising start to the 6 Nations with a big win over Wales, the Irish challenge fell off a cliff amidst a run of poor form and the amount of injuries normally found after a bomb blast.
Heaslip’s poor handling and subdued post match interviews were used as a stick to beat him with and many people now want another change of captaincy.
The year as a whole was a successful one for DCU athletes. Sport has shown us time and again that with every All Ireland win comes a defeat for someone else and for every race won there are countless others that are lost.
That sentiment rings true for many of the sportspeople associated with DCU, but the level that these athletes are competing at is so high, that the people still at the college can be proud of their achievements.