O’Brien reflects on Fitzgibbon Cup group stage exit

DCU Senior Hurling manager Paul O’Brien has praised his players after they put in an improved performance against Dublin Institute of Technology in St Clare’s in their final group game of this year’s Fitzgibbon Cup.

A defeat sent DCU out of the competition last Tuesday, but despite the result, O’Brien noticed a better team effort compared to the away loss against NUI Galway last week.

DCU competed for 60 minutes and limited DIT to 11 points. O’Brien saluted his team’s hard-working performance in tough weather conditions.

“Tuesday’s performance was good enough, I suppose. A few things we weren’t good on last week against NUIG, that we asked the team to improve on, we were good on this week.”

O’Brien acknowledged snow and strong winds made it difficult to hurl in the second half, but the DCU coach refused to blame the defeat on the second half snowstorm.

“People have been talking about the fact that there was a snowstorm during the game on Tuesday. It came just as we had the wind at our back and just as we were on the attack at the start of the second half. In fairness the weather can’t be blamed. It was the same for us and for DIT.”

Stars like Richie Hogan and Mark Aylward played key roles in the DCU team as expected, but reflecting on the year as a whole, O’Brien paid tribute to the depth of the DCU panel. He pointed to the efforts of some of the dark horses and unsung heroes of the squad.

“I don’t want to go too much into specific names and start singling people out, but there are at least two or three lads there and I wouldn’t have thought they’d have made the impact that they have. They’ve stepped up this year.”

DCU came up against strong NUIG and DIT outfits in the first phase of this year’s Fitzgibbon Cup, challenges that proved too much to handle. Despite the strides being made by the likes of DIT, O’Brien foresees the trophy making a return to Cork again this year.

“In terms of Fitzgibbon winners it’s hard to look past the likes of UL and UCC. UL have big stars like Podge Collins and Colin Ryan, but UCC are a really well balanced and rounded team. They might not have as many stars, although they do have Conor Lehane.”

Personally I think UCC will win it. They’ve done it the last two years in a row and there’s a serious team ethos down there. I think they have what it takes to do it again.”

While DCU must now look to next year, DIT and UCD fly the flag for Dublin colleges in this year’s competition. UCD face O’Brien’s favourites UCC in the quarter-finals. UL will have their work cut out for them as they face neighbours LIT in search of a semi-final berth.

Kevin Taylor

Image Credit: Emma Duffy

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