For the second consecutive year, Queen’s University Belfast is the cause of many a broken heart within the DCU Ladies Football ranks. While the O’Connor Cup defeat came a round earlier than the galling loss in the final last year, the disappointment was still palpable when DCU crashed out by 12 points in the semi-final on the Friday before last. Mark Fitzpatrick, manager of the side, says that he is only now beginning to reflect on the ill-fated clash with the Belfast University.
“We underperformed and we thought about what we would change on the day but realistically I don’t think there’s anything we could have changed that would have made much of a difference to our performance on the day. We just got caught cold so I think that was our biggest problem.”
The feeling of being defeated by Queen’s in important matches is an all too familiar feeling for Fitzpatrick, but does he buy into the notion that they hold a hoodoo over his side?
“I don’t believe any of that now being honest. I just think last year was a very inexperienced team going into the final and Queen’s were more experienced. This year, we’d be more disappointed in regards to that we didn’t perform. I think the girls will be more disappointed in their own performance that we didn’t play to our ability that we have. Sometimes you meet a team that’s better than you on the day and they were just better than us on the day.”
With the curtain officially closed on another year of Ladies GAA action, it is the perfect opportunity to reminisce upon a year that Fitzpatrick reckons could have gone much better.
“It’s hard to sum it up. If I’m being honest, I think we underachieved. I think we’re better than we performed at the (O’Connor Cup) weekend but in saying that, it was a year of transition where an awful lot of young players came through, a lot of freshers.
“We had five freshers playing in that semi-final which is a big achievement and it’s what we try to do every year is that our players develop year in year out and our players have got better from last year. We’ll be looking to improve again next year with the addition of hopefully two or three more freshers next year and we should be in a very strong place. Even though we will lose a lot of players, the panel is still strong.”
With the likes of Becky Walsh, Cliodhna McHugh, Naomi Doonan, Roisin Colleary and Aoife Brady all set to depart the university in the coming months, it will be another period of upheaval come autumn. Furthermore, Fitzpatrick himself is unaware of whether or not he will be managing the side for the coming year.
“I don’t know yet, that’s to be decided at the moment. We’ll have our end of year review and then we’ll see. I’d like to be (manager), but it depends on a number of factors. It’s not just one person making the decisions, it is a few people who have to make a decision about it and I don’t speak for everyone involved so I have to wait and see first.”
However, the manager does believe that the club is in a very healthy state, particularly with the support given from higher powers.
“I have to say in fairness we’ve been very well looked after through Michael Kennedy and we haven’t been left wanting for anything this year which has been brilliant. There’s been an even bigger improvement in what we had last year in regards to our preparation outside of the football with the likes of our strength and conditioning and stuff like that and even nutritionists.
“The setup is run so well with the girls; they run the majority of it themselves, we’re just managers of the footballing side of it but they do all the background stuff in regards to fundraising and things like that too and even for equipment and organising buses and stuff like that, it’s a very well-run club I think and it’s only improving as well.”