As the sun set over a windswept Belfield last Thursday evening, it also descended upon DCU’s Sigerson Cup hopes for another year. Not seeing the reward for clawing back a seemingly insurmountable 11 point deficit will linger in the players’ minds for all the wrong reasons.
That being said, Niall Moyna’s side were written off by several punters at the start of this academic year. Michael Murphy, Paul Flynn and Johnny Cooper had departed from a squad that bowed out during last year’s Sigerson Cup semi-finals, with no marquee names to fill the gaps. While heads may still be held high, and rightly so, a victory last week would have been a phenomenal reflection on the university’s ability to bring youthful quality through from Fresher level.
“You ask anybody here today to name our team or even pick out an individual from that team. There are very few people who know who they even are,” Michael Kennedy, Director of DCU’s GAA Academy, said at full-time last Thursday.
They may have been somewhat anonymous, but the Glasnevin outfit certainly weren’t fragile considering the comeback of Leviathan proportions in the second half; something which Kennedy echoes:
“To get caught so early with two goals was a sucker punch. It’s very hard to come back from that but the lads showed great resilience, they fought back and fought back and I’d suppose at half time we always knew there was enough in the tank to give it that lash in the second half but it just wasn’t enough in the end and that’s football. You can’t do anything about it and in the second half, UCD just came out on top.
“We knew all along that if we got this far (in the Sigerson Cup), these guys were going to put up a great great fight and we knew we were coming into the lion’s den here today.”
The result was a mark of vengeance for the Belfield side after DCU came out on top comprehensively last year. Paul Mannion was one of the players not involved on that occasion but his sense of delight was nonetheless evident in the wake of his side’s triumph:
“Absolutely delighted to win. It’s obviously my first time playing Sigerson and it’s been a while I think since UCD have got to a (Sigerson) weekend and got a Sigerson itself.
“We’re very happy and looking forward to it (Sigerson Cup weekend) now. We want to get rested and get a good week’s training under our belts and just get ready for the weekend.”
With a vigorous wind contributing to UCD’s hefty half-time tally, Mannion explained the arduous task that his side faced after the break when pitted against nature:
“It was very difficult. We knew that DCU were going to come out of the blocks after half time and with the wind the way it was, it was difficult. It was really the lads who came in off the bench who really drove us on and give us that little edge we needed to push us over the line and thankfully it was a point victory which is all we needed in the end.”
UCD face a star-studded University of Ulster Jordanstown in the Sigerson Cup semi-final on Friday but Mannion and his teammates now have boundless confidence after last Thursday’s classic:
“There are a lot of big names in there (UUJ), a lot of star players obviously but we’ll be confident going into it ourselves, we’ve got good form now recently so we’re going to go in and give it our best shot.”
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