DCU soccer manager Declan Roche believes that his side are the strongest the university has ever had, despite a disappointing loss to DIT last week.
A 2-1 loss has left the Glasnevin side sitting third in the league table, two points behind UCD in second place.
Speaking about last week’s game Roche felt his side were hard done by. “The conditions were poor and the pitch was poor too. I was happy with the players generally, we played well although we did concede two sloppy goals but overall the team played well and we didn’t deserve to lose the game.
“We’ve had a number of changes each week as well so I’m not too disappointed, in fact I’m quite confident going forward. I still maintain that we have the best players we’ve ever had in the club. I still think we’ll go very close.”
DCU are currently in third place in the CUFL North Division, four points behind league leaders and last year’s Collingwood Cup winners, NUI Maynooth. With the top four teams going into the quarter-finals Roche is quite confident his team will progress.
“The way the league is it’s very tight which is a good thing in some regards. We’ve got Sligo away and then Trinity at home so we’ll be looking to get maximum points from them. That’ll be 10 points then which would definitely get us into the quarter-finals and the target would be to finish top two.”
The top two teams in the north division get the advatage of playing the third or fourth team in the south division at home, something that Roche sees as being very important.
“I think the home game is important. Last year we got UCC at home and it does make a difference. Second plays third so we could be going to play Waterford or Athlone but, having said that, I have no problem going to play anybody. We’d definitely like a home draw so we’re pushing to get that second slot.”
Since coming into the college in September, Shelbourne forward Alan O’Sullivan has netted both of DCU’s goals so far and looks to be a danger in the lone striker role.
“Alan has done well so far and he’s been quite keen. With the League of Ireland season coming to an end he’ll be with us a lot more now for training and the like. He’s a big strong lad and he’s going to do well. With the Airtricity League starting again next February the likes of Alan and Robert Gaul have important months ahead with us to try to get a move back into the Airtricity League.”
Next up for DCU is IT Sligo away. The Westerners are somewhat of an unknown quantity in the division having not been in the top league last season and Roche is careful not to underestimate them.
“My former assistant, John Russell, is a development officer up in Sligo so he’s told me a bit. They’ve made a lot of progress up there. They have two home games to go, us and DIT, so they might be thinking that they can qualify too if they win the two of them. The standard is certainly higher this year.”
Image Credit: Cian Roche