It’s been a week of ups and downs for DCU’s senior soccer side after they advanced to the quarter-finals of the CUFL Premier Division with a 4-1 victory over Letterkenny IT before going down 4-0 to NUI Maynooth just seven days later.
A long bus journey up to Donegal was made worthwhile when the Glasnevin side easily dispatched the home opposition. A brace from player of the season so far Michael Isichei as well as goals from Dean Cregan and the excellent Michael Cogley gave the visitors a deserved three points.
The win guaranteed DCU a top four finish in the north division, meaning they are guaranteed a playoff spot. However, there is still plenty to play for as the top two teams are given home draws for the quarter-finals, something that manager Declan Roche has previously alluded to as being vitally important.
The win maintained DCU’s 100 per cent record, and with table-toppers UCD losing out to NUIM, it gave the Glasnevin university the opportunity to move into first place if they beat NUIM last Wednesday.
As expected, morale was sky high going into the clash with the Kildare side, but everything went pear-shaped early on as two quick goals gave the home side the initiative. DCU never looked like getting back into the game and two more quick-fire goals late in the second half completed a convincing win for NUIM.
Speaking after the match, manager Roche felt that 4-0 perhaps flattered the home side a little.
“I don’t think that 4-0 was a fair reflection on the game. They scored two quick goals in the first half and then they scored two in the last few minutes as well, so I don’t think it was a fair reflection on the players, but still, we weren’t at it in the first half at all.”
After qualifying for the quarter-finals just a week prior to Wednesday’s game, it would be a reasonable assumption to make that perhaps the team took their foot off the gas a bit and were too relaxed going into the game. Roche felt that was possibly the case to a degree but he mainly put the defeat down to individual errors.
“Maybe we were a bit lackadaisical to a point but it was just mistakes really. The four goals were just poor errors. Unfortunately our goalkeeper just had one of those days. They’ve done great, but today it was really just three goalkeeping errors that cost us, other than that we were well in the game. It was complacency a little bit but it was more just errors today really.”
Roche was quick to complement his players, however, reiterating how pleased he is with the squad at his disposal this year.
“We haven’t lost many games over the last few years and the players have been fantastic. We’re delighted with the group we have in this year.”
Despite the loss, the former Celtic man is still very confident going into the final league game and then onto the quarter-finals.
“We’ll go to UCD, where we have a good record, and it’ll be winner takes all to top the group. We’ve qualified now but I’d like to get into the top two and get the home draw for the quarters. I do feel confident going into the quarter-finals. I’m happy with where we’re at.”
The impressive performances so far, bar the defeat last Wednesday, have been with a squad that is still missing a number of key players due to injury. With these players still to come back into the fold, the outlook is certainly positive for DCU as they go in search of rectifying last year’s league final defeat.
“We have some major players coming back in as well,” said Roche. “Daniel Mahon returned today, albeit he only played 20 minutes because he had a club match this evening. But we still have Jack Memery to come back in and James Mooney and Rory Dunleavy as well. So we have plenty of important players to come back so I’d expect us to go into the quarter-finals in good shape.”
Image Credit: Aidan Broletti