O’Connor Cup quarter-final
Queen’s University Belfast 1-11
DCU qualified for the O’Connor Cup weekend on Thursday night, February 25th, after seeing off Queen’s University Belfast in an exciting encounter.
It was an injury to Queen’s and Armagh star Aimee Mackin in the second half that was the main turning point of the game. St Clare’s played host to a tight encounter until that stage but DCU finished strongly with the forward line putting on an admirable display.
The Belfast side were first off the mark but DCU retaliated immediately through a Sarah Rowe free and a well-taken goal finished by Niamh Rickard.
Full-forward Aishling Sheridan’s early attempt on goal was ruled out by referee Colm McManus, despite the ball hitting the net. Queen’s looked dangerous in attack but the DCU defence dealt well with any threats.
Leah Caffery added to the tally with an impressive point as a result of a powerful run from corner-back. Longford’s Michelle Farrell curled a free kick inside the posts and slotted another over from play before Mackin cancelled it out at the other end of play.
Meanwhile, Queen’s were reduced to 14 players but DCU failed to fully use this to their advantage. The half-time score stood at 1-5 to 0-4 in favour of the Northsiders but it looked like anyone’s game.
Queens levelled the game within five minutes of the second half, edging a goal past Emer Ní Éafa despite her previous outstanding save and Caffery’s efforts to clear the line.
DCU stepped up to the mark, taking the lead again through scores from Rickard and Sheridan, while the two half-backs Kate Fitzgibbon and Lorraine O’Shea added their names to the list of scorers.
Queen’s converted two frees but Éabha Rutledge and Michelle Farrell replied almost immediately. It was Farrell who set up DCU’s second goal, winning the kickout before offloading to Rowe who made no mistake in finding the back of the net.
Captain Siobhán Woods and substitute Carol Hegarty added to the DCU lead as they appeared to comfortably take control. Emma Colgan was also introduced to play, putting the ball between the posts with her first touch.
Rutlege and Rickard fired over several more scores while Queen’s battled hard, but a thirteen-point turnaround was too much to ask. DCU’s fatal blow came in the dying minutes of the game as Colgan smashed their third goal over the line.
Queen’s finished proceedings with a well-worked point but failed to secure an all important goal due to immense pressure from the DCU defence.
With a 3-18 to 1-11 win and a dominant second half performance under their belts, Stephen Maxwell’s side can confidently look forward to the O’Connor Cup weekend. After a defeat in last year’s final to the University of Limerick, DCU travel to Tralee on March 11th in search of their first championship since 2011.
DCU: Emer Ní Éafa; Gráinne O’Loughlin, Deirdre Murphy, Leah Caffery (0-1); Lorraine O’Shea (0-1), Bríd O’Sullivan, Kate Fitzgibbon (0-1); Karen McDermott, Lauren Magee Reilly; Michelle Farrell (0-3), Siobhán Woods (0-1), Éabha Rutlege (0-2); Niamh Rickard (1-4), Aishling Sheridan, (0-1) Sarah Rowe (1-2).
Subs used: Carol Hegarty (0-1), Aisling McAuliffe, Emma Colgan (1-1), Phillipa Greene.
Image credit: Emma Duffy