A Conor Grimes goal proved crucial in guiding DIT to a 1-08 to 1-05 victory over a lacklustre DCU at a rain swept St.Clare’s last Wednesday. It was not one for the purists by any means and both sides were extremely wasteful, however DIT did just enough to get a deserved win.
Both managers will be looking for a real improvement in performance in the weeks and months leading up to the Sigerson Cup. The two defences on display must take some credit for the lack of scoring, but there was also some abysmal forward play which is rarely seen at this level.
The first half was notable for the reluctance of both sets of forwards to shoot. An unpredictable swirling wind might have been the reason for this, as both sides were guilty of elaborate moves and excessive hand-passing. DCU’s full-back line did well to restrict their opponents to four points, but DIT’s solid defence were more than a match for them as they held the home side to two points. Meath inter-county defender Bryan Menton was a rock at the heart of the DIT defence and full-forward Gary Kelly was getting nothing easy for the hosts.
An early Michael Quinn point and a Daniel Kirby free were all that DCU could muster as DIT dominated in the latter part of the half. Points from Harry Dawson, Bernard Allen and a left-footed curler from Madden did the damage for the visitors. DCU manager Niall Moyna replaced Kirby with Na Fianna star Conor McHugh late in the first half in an attempt to shake up a struggling forward line.
The first action of the second-half saw DIT goalkeeper Adam O’Reilly produce a stunning save. Kelly struck a powerful right-footed shot from point-blank range but the DIT net minder threw himself in front of the ball and got good contact on it, diverting it away from danger. As the DCU forwards struggled to convert, corner-back Ciaran Cafferky decided to break forward up the right wing and take matters into his own hands. The Roscommon native dispatched an effort from 20 yards, showing his forwards how to do it.
DIT’s Harry Crawford was having an impressive game and pulling the strings from his centre-forward position, showing composure and class on the ball. His point from 30 yards kept DCU at arm’s length. Colm Compton then capitalised on some good DCU build up play down the right flank and slotted over. The game was finally opening up to the delight of around 50 spectators.
The momentum was now with the home side and they gained the initiative around the middle third. The DIT midfield outshone their opponents for most of the game but midway through the half let their grip on the game slip for a few minutes. This was all it took for DCU to gain a foothold. Conor McHugh received a long pass and his hand-pass looped over the helpless defender and found substitute Finbar Cregg. Cregg had quite a lot to do but powered home from 10 yards.
At 1-04 to 0-05 the game still hung in the balance, until DIT took it by the scruff of the neck. The Sigerson champions raised their game and hit DCU for 1-02 in the space of eight minutes. They attacked relentlessly and got the point of the game in the 46th minute as Madden hit a sublime right-footed effort from the right wing. The corner-forward turned on a sixpence and although appearing off balance, got sufficient power in his shot to send it over. The battle between Madden and the DCU defence was an enthralling one. He had a dismal first half but kept plugging away and finally managed to steal a march on his marker. This resembled the pattern of the whole game; tight but DIT persevered and came out on top.
With the sides level it was a blunder from the usually reliable James Farrelly that decided the match. The DCU ‘keeper dropped the wet ball and DIT full-forward Grimes merely had to slide the ball soccer-style into an empty net. Cregg replied with a point for DCU but they really needed a goal now and it eluded them as the visitors packed the defence and held what they had. They put the icing on the cake in the final moments as a fabulous DIT move consisting of at least 30 passes was put over by Bernard Allen.
The result leaves the teams tied on points and tied on point’s difference also in Group A of the Senior Football League Division 1. However DIT, TCD and BIT all have games in hand on Moyna’s men.
DCU: J Farrelly, C Cafferky, C Dunleavy, J Smith, J Gallagher, P Dooney, C Begley, P O’Hanlon, E O’Connor, F O’Shea, C Compton, M Quinn, E O’Reilly, G Kelly, D Kirby.
DIT: A O’Reilly. N Devereaux, B Menton, M O’Hare, K O’Connor, M Shields, R Sheridan, M Argue, R Hazley, S O’Connor, H Dawson, D O’Reilly, C Madden, C Grimes, B Allen.