DCU reach O’Connor Cup semi but fall to old rival in UL

Aidan Geraghty

University of Limerick 1-15
DCU Dóchas Éireann 2-08
O’Connor Cup semi-final

Senior ladies’ Gaelic football, at the college level, has been dominated by the University of Limerick for much of this decade. When they were defeated by DCU in the 2015/16 Division One semi-final, many commentators expected a shift in power towards the Dubliners.

That has not happened, however. Steven Maxwell’s side fell to the Shannonsiders at the O’Connor Cup semi-final stage for the second year in a row, despite leading by five points with only 11 minutes remaining.

DCU got off to a perfect start. They took only fifteen seconds to move the ball more than 80 yards for Siobhán Woods to find the back of the net and give her side a three-point lead.

Dual GAA and football star Sarah Rowe was a driving force for DCU, but their next goal chance was forged by Éabha Rutledge.

The Kilmacud Crokes and Dublin wing-forward forced Limerick goalkeeper Lisa Crowley to make a save out of the top-drawer, when anything less might have put the game to bed.

The Munster outfit were not without some chances of their own. DCU’s Aisling Tarpey made a series of saves in the closing moments of the first half to ensure that her side maintained a three-point lead at the interval, 1-05 to five points.

After being denied by Tarpey just before half-time, UL’s Shauna Howley caused a scare for Steven Maxwell shortly after the restart. Howley fired a shot past Tarpey, but could not beat the woodwork and had to settle for raising the white flag as opposed to the green one.

The Glasnevin side seemed to put the result beyond doubt soon after. Aishling Sheridan, whose performance in last year’s league semi-final inspired DCU to victory over their Midwestern opponents, won an aerial battle with Crowley just outside the square and punched the ball into the empty net.

Leading by five points with only 11 minutes left to play, DCU were eventually outplayed by a battle-hardened Limerick side who showed incredible patience in settling for points when goals wouldn’t come. In the dying moments Shauna Howley forced an error in possession by goalkeeper Tarpey to score an easy goal.

“Last year we had nothing to lose so we gave it everything we had,” DCU forward Éabha Rutledge said.

“You could say that this year there was that bit more pressure on us having beaten them last year in the league semi-final.

“In saying that we did give it our all for majority of the match, but they had their purple spell in the last 10 minutes and we didn’t react quickly enough to shut them down.

“We went ahead at the beginning of the match when Siobhán woods scored a fantastic goal which gave us momentum and confidence to go ahead.

“We kept the lead for the majority of the match but it would show that their determination and experience brought them over the line.

“They got a lucky goal in the 50th minute which spurred them on and unfortunately we couldn’t come back.”

Aidan Geraghty
Image credit: Sportsfile