O’Connor Cup semi-final
DCU’s senior ladies Gaelic football team was defeated in the O’Connor Cup semi-final by the University of Limerick (UL) in Tralee on Saturday, March 11th.
The Glasnevin side was leading 0-6 to 1-2 thanks to an impressive first half performance from wing-forward Éabha Rutledge but a Niamh O’Dea-inspired comeback had the Shannonsiders in the ascendency at the final whistle.
“It was a really difficult and frustrating game,” Rutledge said, speaking to The College View.
“I thought we were the better side in the first half but UL were a very physical team and I think that gave them a slight advantage.”
Although UL continued to keep the score ticking over throughout the second half, the killer blow came shortly after the interval. O’Dea, who already had a goal to her name, scored 1-1 to put UL in front.
The difference between the teams could have been bigger but DCU goalkeeper Emer Ní Éafa dealt well with some heavy pressure. The most notable of which being a point-blank save after Aileen Wall looked to put the game to bed.
Dual soccer and GAA player Sarah Rowe found the back of the net to give the Dubliners a lifeline in the dying moments but the reigning champions held out to book a meeting with University College Dublin in the final.
Despite UL’s dominance of the ladies’ game in recent years, DCU will by no means have expected to taste defeat in this contest having beaten the Limerick side in this year’s league final. Kilmacud Crokes star Rutledge claimed that in the league final “we just had nothing to lose.”
Speaking to the College View, she said: “Going into that game, nobody gave us a chance so we were able to just play our natural game. Whereas in the championship, we weren’t necessarily the favourites but they (UL) knew we could beat them and so did we.
“That might have been our problem. Before we beat them in the league, they hadn’t lost a game in over three years so I wouldn’t blame them if they wanted to get us back.”
When asked what needs to be improved for DCU to win the O’Connor Cup next time around, Rutledge seemed quietly confident.
“That’s a tough question. It’s tough because I think we were good enough to win it this year. I suppose this year was Maxi (Stephen Maxwell)’s first year and there’s always a bit of a learning curve with a new manager but I honestly believe him and Maccer (Niamh McEvoy) have us on track to have an even better go at it next year.
“We’re definitely good enough but those of us who will be third years next year have to step up and be leaders.
“I think we’re losing eight or nine senior players this year and in college football that’s something every team has to deal with but for those of us who will still be here we have to transition from being younger players to being leaders very quickly.”
Image credit: Sportsfile