League semi-finals and Collingwood Cup semi-finals were where the senior soccer team bowed out last year and the aim this year is winning one or both trophies. Since Declan Roche took over at the helm in 2012 the team’s fortunes have risen dramatically. This will be the former Shelbourne man’s third year in charge and he is determined that this will be the year that they take home some silverware.
“We’ve had two particularly good years and I’ve always felt that the third year would be the one where we’d get over the line and win a trophy,” says Roche.
For many college teams around the country the end of the academic year can signal huge changes in dressing room personnel as players complete their studies. This is not so much the case for DCU this year however as most of the first team squad are still in the university.
The squad will also be supplemented by a promising new group of freshers.
“Pretty much all of the players we’ve had over the last two years are still there with the addition of some impressive freshers.
“We’ve brought them all in early, a week before the semester started, so I’m really hoping this will be a good year for us. They’re as good a group of freshers as I’ve ever seen.”
The Glasnevin side will also have three new Airtricity League players on their books this season as Shelbourne’s Alan O’Sullivan, Waterford United’s Mark Walsh and Shamrock Rovers’ Jack Walker have all taken up studies in DCU.
Men’s Gaelic Football
After a disappointing season last year, the DCU Sigerson team are determined to get back to the top of college football and bring home the Sigerson Cup for the third time in six years.
Back and more motivated than ever is Wicklow native and inter-county forward Conor McGraynor. Following last season’s Sigerson Cup quarter-final disappointment in Belfield, McGraynor is keen to see his side recapture the form that saw them reach last years’ O’Byrne Cup final.
“The highlight of last year was beating the Dubs in Parnell Park but unfortunately we didn’t push on the way we would have liked to. Losing to UCD at a relatively early stage was disappointing. We thought we probably had the players to do a lot better than that.”
Despite the disappointment of last year, McGraynor is upbeat about the team’s chances this year.
“We have lads coming into form like Jack McCarron with Monaghan and Donie Smith with Roscommon who were playing at the top level over the summer. Last year we were unlucky with injuries and the likes of Dean Rock and James McCarthy being out. There’s no doubt that this time we have the panel to make a really good go of it.”
Ladies’ Gaelic Football
The DCU women have their sights set on the O’Connor Cup this year after last years’ exit at the semi-final stage. Queen’s University proved a step too far for the Glasnevin women who came up short by 12 points against the Belfast outfit.
DCU and Monaghan defender Laura McEneaney believes her side can go two steps further and can avenge last year’s semi-final disappointment.
“Queens have knocked us out the last two years and they’re definitely our big rivals so we’ll be out to get them this year.”
As with any University team, losing players and embedding new players will be crucial to success in the coming season. McEneaney believes her teammates have the right blend of youth and experience to bring silverware back to DCU this year.
“There are around ten of us that have been here since I started. We’ve obviously lost a few girls but we have great potential coming in this year. We’ve an awful lot of Dublin minors and top class girls like Sarah Rowe from Mayo. Hopefully the team gel well together. Whatever happens we’re determined to give it one hell of a go this year.”
The DCU women play the first fixture of their league campaign next month.
After some impressive results and a strong finish to the year, featuring quite a few first year athletes, DCU Athletics club looks one of the strongest in the country.
With an array of international athletes competing at the highest level and across all events, it’s no wonder Athletics Academy director Enda Fitzpatrick is eagerly anticipating the coming year.
“Because we have established what we have, it means every year going forward we have between 25 or 35 quality athletes across all spectrums of events competing for DCU.
“It’s trying to make do with what you have. If you lose 10 and take in 20, it’s a case of cutting the pie in such a way that you cater for everyone.”
“We’re so far past club level now and that’s really great for the profile of the university and for the athletes.”
A very strong performance at the IUAA Indoor Track and Field games in Waterford IT in April was just a small indicator of the strength in depth and quality of athletes at his disposal.
The club managed to take home 21 medals and freshers like Grainne Moynihan and Emily Rodgers put in some very impressive performances. If the two day event is anything to go by, DCU Athletics is on course for another great year.
Despite finishing last year empty handed, DCU Camogie club has managed to maintain its presence in the Ashbourne Cup and manager Stephen Behan expects another good year from his side.
“Consolidating our Ashbourne Cup status would be the main thing. Last year was our first year up and it was great experience for the girls. Getting to the semi-final of the cup competition means that we’re guaranteed Ashbourne status.”
“We’ve some good young first years coming in, so mixing them up with the girls who are already here and have the experience, we’ll have a good squad.”
With two Purcell Cups in the past three years, Behan should and understandably does have high expectations for a side growing in confidence.
Experience is likely to be the theme of the year going forward and with established inter-county players like Mairead Power and Stacey Quirke having come through the ranks. It is likely that their experience at Inter-County level with Kilkenny will serve to be a welcome boost to the side.
AIB’s sponsorship of the side will provide the backroom staff with scholarship supports, so as to attract some of the finest young talent in the country.
After a disappointing group stage exit in last year’s Fitzgibbon Cup, DCU’s premier hurling side will be looking to ensure that this year proves to be more successful.
Former All-Star and Kilkenny inter-county star Richie Hogan will not be available this year as he is no longer in DCU. This will surely be a loss to the side but DCU GAA Director of Hurling Paul O’Brien is confident that he has some good young players coming through.
“There are probably five or six lads who are after finishing up their studies here but we’ve got a strong squad of freshers who’ve performed well over the summer with their counties so they’ll obviously be a big addition.”
O’Brien is keen to maintain the development of the club that has accelerated since he took up a directorship position last year and hopes the team can push on further in this year’s Fitzgibbon Cup.
“The aims for me in my role as hurling development officer are to continue building on those developments that we’ve made in previous years. Obviously the aim for the Fitzgibbon team is to start winning games and push on and make it to the weekend.”
DCU senior men’s basketball will embark on a campaign that sees them compete at the highest level this year, having gained promotion in the Intervarsity Games last season.
DCU will compete in the A categories of both the All-Ireland league and the Intervarsity competition.
Star man Steven McGrath sees this year as an opportunity to push on following last year’s successful campaign,
“We were beaten in the B Intervarsity final by CIT but thankfully that meant we gained promotion. We’ve lost three or four players from last year but we have some really good fresh new talent coming in this year.”
Preparation for the upcoming season starts soon and this year will see the DCU team get started early in order to be ready for a higher level of competition.
“Being in the A category in the All-Ireland league means we’ve to get going early. The hard work and training usually gets underway around October and this season should be no different.”
The team will first compete in league competition before the season highlight, the Intervarsity games, takes place later in the year.
For DCU Ladies basketball, the aim of the new season will be emulating the success of last year.
The team dominated college basketball last year by securing a double of both the All-Ireland League and Intervarsity tournament.
Killester and DCU player Amy Russell returns from injury this season and will be striving to contribute to an already successful side.
“We were so successful last year and this year the team hasn’t lost too many players. We’ve got new players coming in from Killester and there’s a good mix with players from elite clubs like DCU Mercy as well.”
Russell is facing a battle familiar to most athletes. Returning from injury poses its challenges but the post player is confident she can contribute.
“I’m back from injury and I’m raring to go. It’s the last year for Tessa [Solan] and Lindsay [Peat] and they’ll be two big losses when they go so hopefully we do the double again for them.”
Improving on a club’s most successful year ever is never an easy feat but that is exactly what DCU’s amateur boxing club will attempt to do this year.
After being crowned All-Ireland champions DCU’s boxers rounded off the year by being named as the university’s club of the year.
Another positive for the club last year was the setting up of the Darren Sutherland Memorial Cup, an event that saw Olympic silver medallist John Joe Nevin take to the ring in front of a packed Venue in The Hub.
“Our main aim is to maintain the standard we set last year. We innovated a lot in college boxing last year such as the setting up of the Darren Sutherland Memorial Cup with boxers like John Joe Nevin,” said the club chairman, Robert Egan.
With a strong squad still in place this year thanks to the fact that most of the best boxers are still in the university, DCU will again be looking to fight off all opposition and be crowned Ireland’s number one.
Carlow IT showed their class last year, claiming the Division 1 title, and things look uncertain for the DCU Rugby club for the 2014/15 season. Chairman of the club, Stephen Murray, spoke to us about his aims for the new year.
“We’d love to increase participation. Usually we start really strong, but towards the end of the year the numbers begin to dwindle.
“So this year our main goal is to increase participation and awareness of the club around DCU.
“We had a big outflow of players there last year, due to final years leaving and also a lot of second years are on work placement this year. Without many senior players, we’ll have to build from the bottom again.”
It seems that it’s a numbers game this year, with a lot of outgoing players leaving holes for freshers to fill.
However, with their presence in Division 1 again this season, the team will need to bridge the gap if they aren’t to become whipping boys in a strong group.