Sport Review of the Year 2012/2013

DCU Captain Robbie Gaul in action against DIT

October

October saw many of the headlines focus on matters away from the action. The DCU camogie team was one squad which was affected by such issues. After winning the Purcell Cup the previous season, the team were disappointed to learn that automatic qualification for the Ashbourne Cup would not be possible and a play-off match would have to be negotiated before an ascent to the top level of higher education camogie could be made.

Meanwhile, the senior football squad was rocked by new eligibility rulings that would be debated for the entirety of the higher education football season. Limits were put on the years a player could spend or the courses he could study at college while remaining eligible for the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon cups. The controversial directives ruled Cork’s Aidan Walsh and Donegal’s Michael Boyle out of the Sigerson campaign – a blow to DCU’s hopes of defending their crown, months before the action even began.

On the pitch, affairs were equally as bleak for the senior footballers during October. Drubbings at the hands of both UCD and DIT had the reigning Sigerson champions facing the prospect of a winless league campaign as they progressed into the winter. Interestingly, the senior hurling team played the exact same opposition during October and fell victim to thrashings in both games, too.

The only source of optimism for the DCU GAA club in October came in the guise of the Fresher football outfit, who cruised past the likes of Carlow IT and DIT in the early stages of the Fresher League.

Elsewhere, DCU’s soccer team had a perfect start to the season, as all three games in the CUFL Premier Division East during October ended in victory for Declan Roche’s men. Their campaign commenced with an impressive 3-0 triumph over UCD before sweeping Coláiste Íde aside 3-1 in the following clash. The third game of the month was their first away trip, with a late Michael Isichei penalty at IT Blanchardstown sealing a 2-1 win.

November

But they had to be satisfied with a runners-up spot in the CUFL Premier Division East, following a disappointing 3-0 loss away to DIT in the final game.

The DCU rugby season started with a walkover win over the University of Ulster Jordanstown but their first venture onto the pitch ended disastrously as they fell to a 53-5 loss at the hands of Athlone IT, sustaining injuries along the way.

In the GAA scene, all eyes were on the Fresher footballers in November as they paved a path towards the league final, where they faced UCD. The clash on November 21st in Parnell Park ended in victory for the Belfield outfit with no small thanks to an early bombardment which had UCD in front by seven points after 15 minutes. The focus for the Freshers immediately shifted to the new year and a chance for revenge in the championship.

Shortly after being introduced into the Down backroom staff, Niall Moyna managed his DCU senior footballers to a first league win of the campaign on November 14th – the 9-point victory over Maynooth allowing the Sigerson champions to avoid a relegation play-off.

The season’s first piece of GAA silverware arrived at the end of November. DCU’s Intermediate footballers claimed the league title with a tight three-point margin victory over city rivals UCD.

By DCU’s modest standards, November was a respectable month for hurling in the college. After a heated beginning to their league campaign, the Fresher side stopped the rot by securing a draw against Carlow IT. The seniors, meanwhile, recorded a critical victory as they overcame St. Pat’s by six points to stay in the top division of the higher education league for another year.

It was a disappointing month for the camogie side, however. The senior outfit made it to a league semi-final in November but it was defeat that greeted the squad as UL ran out winners by an eight-point margin.

But it was a particularly bitter 30 days for the camogie side because of the slight controversy surrounding their Ashbourne Cup participation. The CCAO rule which had been introduced a month earlier meant that NUIG, finalists of the previous season’s Ashbourne shield, had to be beaten in their own patch for DCU to be elevated to Ashbourne camogie. The play-off ended in a 3-point defeat for DCU, meaning the rest of the year would be focused on retaining their Purcell title.


December

Naturally, due to the extensive winter break, the months of December and January are a hiatus for sport in the University. However, December 2012 saw the college represented on a continental level as DCU graduate Fionnuala Britton became the first female to win two European Cross-Country titles in a row. A snowy Budapest was the hunting ground for Britton as she led her team to a European gold.

Despite there being little or no teams in action for DCU in December, the GAA club was a major focus of The College View Sport in the final issue of 2012. Figures were published which showed that DCU GAA were the recipients of 28.3% of the Club Life Committee grant allocations which amounted to €102,336.20. The senior men’s football team were the biggest recipients, commanding a budget of €45,908.60 for the year. And the men’s Football Club had received funding for 14 coaches- two more than CLC funding policy allows.

January

The DCU soccer team faced Letterkenny IT in the CUFL quarter-final at the end of the month. Heading into the contest as apparent underdogs, the Dublin outfit came out on top courtesy of a Daniel Aherne goal. The 1-0 score line sent DCU through to their first ever CUFL semi-final.

The action in the GAA scene at the end of January was largely positive, especially for those with a hurl in hand. The camogie team impressively swept aside Mary I by ten points in Artane to put the DCU side through to the semi-final of the Purcell Cup and one step closer to retaining their crown.

Meanwhile, the Fresher hurlers’ efforts started to pay real dividends as they won their first game of the championship by upsetting DIT and hammering the Grangegorman outfit by 13 points – a surprisingly positive start to the calendar year for DCU hurling.

The senior footballers began the defence of their Sigerson crown by sauntering to victory away to UL. The nine point difference between the sides underlined DCU’s status as major contenders for the Sigerson Cup 2013.

February

From the beginning of the year, February had been pinpointed as the critical month in the sporting calendar of DCU. With the major competitions across all codes reaching the climatic stages, it was a pair of fortnights that was expected to provide some silverware for the University.

Undoubtedly, the main focus was on the Sigerson side. After claiming the title 12 months previous and with the All-Ireland-winning captain amongst the ranks, there was a genuine sense of excitement surrounding the squad. While the controversy surrounding Aidan Walsh and Michael Boyle might have created negative emotion in the camp, it certainly wasn’t evident on the pitch. The majestic Michael Murphy gave two sensational performances against Queen’s and UCD to help his side through to Sigerson finals weekend. In addition to Murphy’s magnificence, the side conceded a paltry 15 points cumulatively in the aforementioned ties; another positive sign before the trip to Athlone.

DCU found themselves facing city rivals DIT in the semi-final in the opening day. With intercounty stars such as Aidan O’Shea and Darran O’Sullivan lining out for DIT, it was always going to be an arduous task. And so it proved. DIT would win by a four-point margin and subsequently claim the title.

The Fitzgibbon campaign ended far more promptly as DCU fell to losses in both their group games, crashing out at the earliest opportunity. UCD had only six points of a buffer zone in their clash with DCU while LIT put the North Dublin side to the sword after a 22-point triumph.

The Freshers had a slightly more upbeat February after upsetting Mary I in Limerick, before finally getting knocked out of the championship after falling to UCD in the quarter-final.

It was a month to remember for DCU’s Camogie Club – in particular the weekend of the Purcell Cup. A cruise past Cork IT on the Saturday saw the side through to the final where they faced a spunky Mary I side. A five point margin of victory went DCU’s way, meaning back-to-back Purcell titles for the University’s camogie side.

On the final day of February, the DCU Fresher football side had an opportunity for revenge. After a clash with UCD in the league final in November, DCU faced the same opposition in the championship final – looking to balance the scales after the semester one disappointment. Despite the likes of Jack McCaffrey, Paul Mannion and Niall Kelly in the Belfield outfit’s line-up, it was DCU who came out on top this time, with a one-point victory after extra-time – a particularly sweet scalp for everyone involved.

The Fresher B side also had a good month, winning their All-Ireland championship final against UCC.

Athletics was on the radar in February as DCU student Brian Gregan qualified for the European Indoor Championships – running the fastest time of the European athletics season and the second fastest worldwide.

The Fresher soccer team travelled to University of Ulster Coleraine where they defeated NUI Maynooth 2-1 in the final of the Harding Cup Plate.

The senior team continued their fantastic season by reaching their first ever CUFL final by beating IT Carlow 2-1. Meanwhile, the side also made it to the semi-final of the Collingwood Cup, which they subsequently lost by 1-0 to UCC controversially – the Cork side awarded a dubious penalty.

In rugby, the DCU senior side’s first game of semester two came against Maynooth, with the Kildare natives coming out on top on a score line of 35-25 after a highly entertaining game. Bizarrely, this was only the second competitive game of the entire season that the side had played. Therefore, it was always going to be tough for the squad to effectively compete in their quarter-final of the All-Ireland competition. A largely under-cooked DCU team lost to Waterford IT 27-10, bringing an end to a disappointing season of rugby.

March

In March, there was further investigation into the funding received by DCU GAA club. An article in these pages detailed payments being made to the management team of the Sigerson panel. The article also explained how Niall Moyna, Tony Diamond and Mick Bohan had all received funding for their roles in taking the DCU side to the Sigerson finals weekend. This was in breach of Cub Life Committee policy, which states that only two coaches per team may be financed.

With so much hope placed on the shoulders of Brian Gregan as he ventured to Sweden for the European indoor championships, it was a bitter blow to see the DCU runner withdraw from his 400m semi-final halfway through. After running a strong race for a good portion of the contest, Gregan collided with Ukraine’s Voldomyr Burakov and his hopes of a podium place vanished.

Fionnuala Britton came home with a bronze medal after finishing third in the women’s 3,000 metre final – a huge achievement for the DCU graduate considering the venue was away from her usual cross-country setting.

In soccer, the successful season for the DCU senior side finished in defeat as they came up short against DIT in the CUFL final, losing 2-0. Rory Dunleavy’s first half dismissal proved mitigating.

There was a prevailing theme of disappointment in DCU sport during March. The Ladies Senior Football side went down to Queen’s in their O’Connor Cup final while the Ladies Basketball side were defeated at the final hurdle by UL.

However, the Ladies GAA club provided somewhat of a silver-lining as the second team secured the Lynch shield after a five-point victory over St. Mary’s in the final.

Recent graduate Cathal Pendred won the Cage Warriors Welterweght title in London, and will defend the title on June 1st in the Helix.

Eoin Sheahan

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