Lacklustre DCU progress to Fitzgibbon quarter-final

Niall McIntyre

DCU line up before their decisive Fitzgibbon Cup game against Trinity College. Credit: Inpho

Trinity College 1-14
Dublin City University 0-19
Fitzgibbon Cup first round

Tuesday, February 7th in Santry was a night of firsts for the Fitzgibbon men of DCU. It was the first time they ever won a Fitzgibbon Cup game away from home, their first time to ever win two games in the group stages and their first time to reach the quarter-final of this competition.

After stumbling over this underestimated Trinity side all heads now turn to the Mardyke next Tuesday, February 14th, where they will face University College Cork who have won this competition a whopping 38 times.

DCU were hot favourites coming into this game with the majority of bookies quoting them odds-on at 1/16. However in the early stages one would’ve been forgiven for thinking it was in fact the inner-city college who were the favourites. This Trinity side displayed heart, courage and bravery in abundance and have bowed out of this competition with their heads held high.

It was Trinity who started the brighter on what was an ideally dry evening for hurling at the Trinity Sports Grounds in Santry. They reeled off three unanswered points in the first five minutes of the game, two of these coming from the stick of their midfield maestro Cian O’Sullivan.

DCU appeared shellshocked by the levels of drive and hunger shown by the Trinity men and it took a while before they hit their stride in this game. The away side were indebted to their plucky midfielder Gavin Bailey who competed ferociously throughout for the breaking ball and was responsible for many of his side’s best attacking moves but also for cutting out promising Trinity attacks.

Eventually DCU began to find their feet in this game with their ever reliant Waterford star Patrick Curran accurate from play and from a free. It was tit-for-tat, point-for-point all the way up to half-time in this game. Donncha Butler was causing untold problems for the home side and had two points from play to show for his efforts while Eoghan Conroy landed a beauty for DCU.

Indiscipline was costing both sides and referee James McGrath had a busy day with the whistle. In truth, if DCU wish to progress further in this competition, the levels of indiscipline shown here will have to be reduced. Some of their players were unable to keep a lid on their anger as niggles from the Trinity players as well as frustration at their own performance led to the concession of silly, petulant frees. A more experienced side such as UCC will undoubtedly punish them for this.

DCU hit the ground running in the second half with the sharp Curran to the fore yet again while the energetic duo of Gavin Bailey and Rian McBride led the charge in the middle third. Points from the aforementioned trio as well as a couple of Curran frees gave them a 0-16 to 0-11 point lead after 20 minutes of the second half and one would’ve thought that the Trinity ship had sailed.

The home side, however, encouraged by a vocal support landed three unanswered points with Butler and O’Sullivan the fulcrum of the action yet again. Their never say die attitude was admirable but all told it was not enough as DCU’s leaders such as defenders Paudie Foley, Eoghan O’Donnell and Darragh Brennan stood up when it mattered most.

AJ Murphy, Killian Doyle and sub Tony French struck points which counted vital as Nick Weir’s charges finished up two-point victors despite the concession of a late three-pointer.

Relief was undoubtedly the prevailing emotion in the DCU dressing room after the match and they will look forward to the journey into the unknown territory of next quarter-final on February 14th. This time they will undoubtedly be the underdogs.

DCU: Robbie Gillen (Westmeath); Sean McCaw (Dublin), Eoghan O’Donnell (Dublin), Darragh Brennan (Kilkenny); Aaron Maddock (Wexford), Pádraig Foley (Wexford), Paul O’Dea (Dublin); Gavin Bailey (Wexford), Joe O’Connor (Wexford); Jason Byrne (Kilkenny), Rian McBride (Dublin), Liam Fahey (Tipperary); Eoghan Conroy (Dublin), Patrick Curran (Waterford), Killian Doyle (Westmeath).

Subs: AJ Murphy (Dublin) for Fahey (h.t.), Tony French (Wexford) for Byrne (50), Harry O’Connor (Wexford) for Doyle (57), Paul Kelly (Dublin) for Bailey (59)

Scorers for DCU: Patrick Curran 0-12 (10f), Gavin Bailey 0-2, Rian McBride, AJ Murphy, Killian Doyle, Tony French & Eoghan Conroy 0-1 each.

Trinity College: Eoin Skelly (Dublin); Jack O’Neill (Dublin), Darragh O’Donoghue (Galway), Cormac Keating (Tipperary); Cian O’Riain Broin (Dublin), Manus Malone (Clare), Eoghan McNamara; (Limerick), Cian O’Sullivan (Dublin), Cian O’Dulaing (Dublin); Donncha Butler (Dublin), Niall Redmond (Wexford), Fionn O’Riain Broin (Dublin); Eoin Kelly (Wexford), Conor O’Carroll (Kilkenny), Seán Ryan (Dublin).

Subs: Sean O’Connor (Cork) for O Dulaing (3), Aaron Coffey (Dublin) for Ryan (57).

Scorers for Trinity: Cian O’Sullivan 0-8 (6f), Jack O’Neill 1-0, Donncha Butler 0-3, Fionn O’Riain Broin 0-2 (1f), Niall Redmond 0-1.

Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath)

Niall McIntyre
Image credit: Inpho