DCU overwhelm ITT in second half to reach Division Three final

DCU lost the possession battle but superior shooting saw them through. Credit: William Dunne

Institute of Technology Tallaght 1-10
Dublin City University 1-20

Division Three semi-final

DCU blew away ITT with a strong second half display to reach the Division Three final on Wednesday afternoon, November 23rd at Thomas Davis GAA club in Tallaght.

DCU found themselves three points down at half time as ITT started strongly in a half that saw both sides wasteful in attack at times it was the hosts that found themselves 1-06 to 0-06 ahead at the break.

The opening exchanges proved cagey as both sides looked to start strongly but lacked a clinical edge in attack. DCU broke the deadlock almost five minutes in, thanks to a point from Paul McNamara.

ITT’s responded with the first goal of the game minutes later, the impressive Darragh Pepper’s hand pass across goal found wing forward Carl Finn who punched into the empty DCU net to give the Tallaght men the lead.

A beautiful Paul McNamara point off his left boot in response was overshadowed by consistent pressure on the DCU goal as the hosts increased their lead with two frees from Aodhán Clabby as the game reached the quarter mark.

Fergus English’s short kick outs saw the Glasnevin men dominate possession but they struggled to penetrate ITT’s resilient defence. Their defence was also put under serious pressure with the hosts’ pace in attack causing serious problems.

The pressure almost told, with half back Kevin McKeown saving an almost mirror image of ITT’s earlier goal off the line. He was taken off temporarily with a knee injury minutes later and resumed in the second half.

ITT’s work ethic and fitness was evident as they kept putting their opponents under pressure. They almost reaped the rewards in the dying moments as a misplaced kick out gifted the Tallaght men a point to lead 1-06 to DCU’s 0-6.

DCU racked up six unanswered points in just ten minutes to make it a completely different game. The Glasnevin men’s class was evident as midfielder Conor Early’s point was followed up by two frees in quick succession by James Cullen.

The hosts’ defence struggled to cope with such pressure as Cullen added another from play, substitute Kevin Hyland and another from Early capped off an incendiary start to the half.

ITT finally got on the board soon after with midfielder Eoghan Boyle’s point was followed another Clabby score. Their momentum was short lived, as Paddy Byrne and Paul McNamara ensured the brief ITT resistance was short lived.

Two frees from Cullen extended DCU’s advantage before Jamie McDonnell pointed a frankly monstrous 45 to see his side lead by six points inside the last ten minutes with the visitors dominating almost in almost every area of the pitch.

The hosts refused to give in as Clabby was a constant threat in his ability to punish DCU from dead balls but the visitors’ substitutions were effective with Ciarán Madden’s point off his left with five minutes to go ensuring DCU stayed in cruise control and on their way to the Division 3 final.

ITT were handed a lifeline with just three minutes left as a ball over the top presented a goal opportunity but the player was dragged down, the referee awarded a penalty. Aodhán Clabby stepped up to narrow DCU’s lead to just three and give his side a chance at salvaging a result.

The penalty was saved, Fergus English’s diving save to his bottom right corner ensured there would be no ITT heroics in the dying minutes. Under a minute later, James Cullen kicked over his sixth point of the afternoon with a straightforward free to leave no doubt about the outcome.

ITT’s defence fell apart as McNamara started and finished a move that saw him on the end of hand pass across goal and the centre forward punched the ball into the empty net.

Manager Nathan Gavigan was disappointed by his side’s start to the game but was quick to praise his players’ second half performance. “I suppose starting the game in the first half, we started very sloppily. We gave a lot of cheap ball away and I suppose our shooting wasn’t great,” he said.

“Fair play to the lads, they dug in. We changed it at half time, went more offensive and it worked luckily enough but we’re looking forward to the final now.

DCU will face St. Patrick’s College in the Division Three Final on Wednesday November 30th.

DCU: Fergus English, Eoin Moore, Joe Mulreany, D. Lenehan, Kevin McKeown, Michael McWalters (c), David McAtamey, Jamie McDonnell (0-01: 45), Conor Early (0-02), Dean Halpin (0-01), Paul McNamara (1-02, 0-01f), Paddy Byrne (0-04), Brian McGowan (0-01), James Cullen (0-01, 0-05 frees), Cathal O’Brien.

Subs: Ciarán Madden (0-01) for Kevin McKeown (temp), Kevin Hyland (0-01) for David McAtamey, Ciarán Madden for Dean Halpin.

ITT: Darren Brennan, Jack Milly, Sean Cleary, Austin Kilgallon, Ronan McAteer, Cathal Flaherty, Daniel Galvin, Eoghan Boyle (0-01), David Tyrell, Nathan Nolan, Aodhán Clabby (0-01, 0-05f), Carl Finn (1-00), Ciarán Howard, Darragh Pepper (0-02), C Murphy (0-01).

Subs: Donal Brady for David Tyrell, Adam Murphy for Carl Finn, Seán Farrelly for Ciaran Howard, Dara Gogan for Ronan McAteer.

Gavin Quinn
Image Credit: William Dunne

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