It was sporting matters outside of DCU that made the back pages at the beginning of the academic year thanks to some outstanding performances from DCU students in Croke Park.
When Dublin clinched the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship at the Jones’ Road ground in late September, there were a dozen players involved who were all either present or past DCU students. With DCU graduate Stephen Cluxton captaining the Dubs to the Sam Maguire, he became the third consecutive DCU student or former student to lift the trophy.
Things were not so rosy, however, for DCU captain Laura McEnaney in the ladies football final as her Monaghan side lost out to a Cork side playing in its eighth All-Ireland final in the space of nine years.
Meanwhile in the camogie finals it was a case of highs and lows for the DCU contingent as Emma Kavanagh, Lisa Carey and Mairéad Power were on the losing Kilkenny side in the All-Ireland Senior Final, while Fiona Trant and Lauri McDermott played with the successful Kildare side that overcame Laois in the All-Ireland Premier Junior Final.
On the soccer side of things, October was a successful month for DCU assistant manager John Russell, who was part of the St Patrick’s Athletic team that claimed its first League of Ireland title since 1999.
Off the pitch it was DCU Hurling Club, generally the quieter of DCU’s two main men’s GAA clubs, that generated buzz in early October, through the announcement of the university’s first ever Freshers B hurling team and the revelation that Kilkenny star Richie Hogan would be a member of this year’s Fitzgibbon panel.
The Hogan factor wasn’t enough in the opening game of the season, however, as the senior hurlers were easily dispatched by Dublin Institute of Technology before losing out to UCD a week later. Things fared slightly better for the fresher team, who overcame St Patrick’s College/Mater Dei after a disappointing opening fortnight which saw them lose out to both NUI Galway and UCD.
The football club had a much less hectic October, with just three games played among the teams in the college. The senior team started their league campaign well with an easy home win over Trinity College. Meanwhile, both Freshers teams started their seasons with trips to UCD, with the A team drawing and the Bs recording a one point win.
Elsewhere, DCU’s Collingwood soccer team got their league campaign off to a good start, firstly by avenging last year’s league final by beating DIT 1-0 in St Clare’s. They then recorded a 5-2 win over University of Ulster Jordanstown to mark an undefeated start to the season.
DCU’s Australian Rules Club participated in the making of history in October, entering the inaugural Fitzpatrick Cup, the first ever European intervarsity Aussie Rules competition. Despite encouraging performances from the beginners, the newcomers finished last of the four teams who entered, falling to UCC Bombers in the semi-final and NRC Eagles in the third-place playoff. It was not all defeats for DCU on the day, with club chairman and team captain Caoilte Ó Baoill being awarded the tournament’s Best & Fairest Award.
DCU was also represented heavily at this year’s International Rules. Both captain and vice-captain were DCU alumni in Michael Murphy and Aidan Walsh. The 100 point aggregate victory also featured DCU coach Ross Munnelly and member of last year’s Freshers All-Ireland Champions Ciarán Byrne.
November came with good news for DCU Camogie Club, as Kilkenny and DCU star Mairéad Power won her first Camogie All-Star at corner-back.
It was a miserable month for DCU hurling, with no wins recorded by any competing teams. The Freshers finished their league with a loss to Institute of Technology Carlow, while the Intermediates lost all three of their league games against UCD, DIT and IT Carlow.
Things fared much better for the footballers, as November started with wins for both the Freshers As and Bs over Queen’s University Belfast. Despite losing to UUJ the following week, the Fresher A’s still qualified for the knock-out stages of the league. The Fresher B’s enjoyed a victory over DIT in their All-Ireland quarter-final and the Junior team won their semi-final over University of Ulster at Magee, but it was not to be all victories for DCU GAA, with the Fresher C’s falling to Sligo Institute of Technology. However, the senior team were knocked out of the Ryan Cup, losing their last competitive game of the year to UCD.
For the senior soccer team, a first loss of the season to UCD in Belfield didn’t matter too much in the end as they still qualified for the league quarter-finals, with the added bonus of a home draw.
However, the victory came amidst calls from both the manager and assistant manager for a change to the Collingwood Cup ruling regarding professional players, branding it as “unfair”. The rule in question stated that universities are not allowed to use players that are on professional contracts with other clubs. However, this caused much frustration among universities as UCD were exempt from abiding by the rule due to the fact that they have a team competing in the League of Ireland.
After calls for change from a number of universities, an EGM of the Irish Universites Football Union was called the following month and the rule was amended.
Elsewhere, the athletics season got underway in November with considerable success for DCU. The DCU Dragons team of Darren McBrearty, John Coghlan, David McCarthy, Darragh Greene and Joe Warne regained the club’s title at the IUAA Road Relays, smashing the course record with a time of 40:26. DCU entered an impressive six teams at the event, a college record.
After coming back from the brink of extinction, there was plenty to celebrate for DCU Boxing Club as chairperson Rob Egan won Leinster gold in the 71kg category. The club were represented by four boxers at the tournament and were the only university present doing battle with the best of Leinster’s boxing clubs.
It was a good start to the year for DCU Force as the university’s senior rugby team secured a 17-5 victory over NUI Maynooth in their first game of the year. However, they were quickly brought back down to earth by an 83-12 trouncing at the hands of IT Carlow in St Clare’s.
DCU Australian Rules Club came up against Dublin Demons in what was dubbed the ‘Dublin Showdown’. The game ended with a victory for the Demons by a margin of three goals, DCU being put to the sword by the goal-kicking of their own coach, John ‘Toasty’ Enright.
Matters off the pitch dominated the back pages in December, as The College View revealed the Office of Student Life was in fact aware of the breach in policy that occurred during last year’s club allocations. The breach, which was brought to light by The College View last year, saw the GAA Club receive funding for three coaches, despite CLC policy stating that only funding for two coaches per team would be allocated.
In the same week, The College View also revealed that a vote would not be taken on the full allocation of funds to several DCU clubs, most notably the Men’s GAA Club, which submitted its grant application almost seven weeks late.
On the pitch, the senior soccer team took most of the attention as they secured a second consecutive league semi-final spot after coming out deserved 2-1 victors over UCC which saw them drawn against IT Carlow in the following round.
The Freshers footballers finished off their league campaign, first by seeing off the challenge of CIT in the semi-final, before valiantly falling to UCC in the final on a scoreline of 2-11 to 1-11.
DCU Camogie also secured a victory over UCC, winning 4-7 to 0-7 in their hugely important Ashbourne Cup qualifier.
Also in December, Paul O’Brien was appointed the GAA Club’s first ever Games Development Officer.
January was naturally a quiet month for the university sporting scene as exams took centre stage. However, the month did see DCU claim the most prized scalp Gaelic football has to offer when they produced an unlikely comeback to beat reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin in their O’Byrne Cup quarter-final. The Glasnevin side didn’t make it all the way to the final, however, as they lost out at the hands of Meath in the following round.
The most pivotal month in university sport started with disappointment for the men’s soccer side as they were denied a league final place by a strong IT Carlow side that would go on to win the competition. DCU struggled to get into the game and were swept aside by the quality of a Carlow side that did enough to record a 2-0 win.
Things didn’t fare much better for the Fitzgibbon hurling side, who exited from the competition after two group stage defeats in the space of a week. A loss to NUIG by the River Corrib, followed by another defeat at the hands of DIT in St Clare’s, were enough to send DCU crashing out of the competition.
On the football side of things, DCU began their Sigerson Cup campaign with a win over Institute of Technology Blanchardstown as they went in search of reclaiming the trophy they had last won in 2012. However, it was not to be, as the Glasnevin side came out on the losing side of a thrilling encounter in a windswept Belfield that saw UCD reap revenge for the defeat at the hands of DCU in the same round the previous year.
Despite being 11 points down at half-time, DCU put on a stellar second half performance that saw them get to within a point of the home side before the final whistle was blown.
On the track, DCU dominated at the IUAA Indoor Championships in Athlone, breaking 13 club records and retaining both the men’s and women’s titles for the seventh consecutive year.
Before the main soccer events of the year kicked off in Belfield it was the DCU fresher team who stole the show, as they took home two trophies in 10 days. Success in the Harding Plate was followed by a league final penalty shootout win over IT Carlow.
For the senior team, however, the focus was on the Collingwood Cup. Hosted this year in Belfield, DCU were looking to claim their first ever title since the competition began 100 years ago.
The Glasnevin side certainly didn’t make it easy for themselves from the off, though, as it took a penalty shootout to overcome Mary Immaculate College in the first round. This was followed by a last-gasp winning goal from Darren Craven to get past UUJ in the quarter-finals.
NUIG were the opponents in the semi-final, but despite a resilient performance that deserved more out of the game, DCU went down 2-0 in a result that saw them exit the competition.
More success came the way of the athletics club in March as a men’s team gold medal, a women’s team silver medal and the overall trophy saw DCU reign supreme at the Intervarsity Cross Country Championships in Cork Institute of Technology.
On the tennis courts, DCU achieved intervarsity success on home turf after defeating TCD 5-4 to reclaim the trophy that had eluded them for the previous two years.
In the ring a mixture of blood, sweat and possibly even some tears finally resulted in DCU Amateur Boxing Club becoming All-Ireland champions as well as taking home five All-Ireland titles at the Intervarsity National Championships. This year has been hugely successful for DCU’s boxing club after being on the brink of going out of existence last year.
In Belfast, the DCU ladies football team were left heartbroken as they lost out to Queen’s at the semi-final stage of the O’Connor Cup.