As we approach the beginning of the new season, DCU hurling looks to continue the progress made after an exceptional 2016/17 season that saw the Freshers claim All Ireland glory while the seniors will look to better reaching their first ever Fitzgibbon Cup Quarter Final.
The triumphant Freshers manager, Eoin Roche, will now look to replicate his success managing the freshers as he takes charge of the senior team in what looks to be exciting times for DCU hurling.
Roche is keen to build on the progress already made.
“They made progress, I think it was the first time they made the quarter final in I think the first time in maybe 20 years,” he said.
“They had a successful league campaign as well. They drew with UCD, were unlucky to lose to IT Carlow who won three in a row in the league quarter final.”
DCU opened their campaign with an impressive four point victory over Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) before two second half goals saw DCU fall to Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT). A final group game saw DCU qualify for their first Fitzgibbon Cup Quarter Final in their history with a 0-19 to 1-14 victory over Trinity College.
A trip to Cork lay ahead for the side as UCC awaited in a Quarter Final that was very much there for the taking. A 1-18 to 0-16 loss marked the end of DCU’s run in the competition.
“Things went against them on the way down in the Mardyke. UCC were one the strongest teams in the competition, with the history they have, trying to beat them at home was going to be very difficult,” Roche said.
Roche himself led the Freshers side to All Ireland glory in the John Corcoran Cup that featured great wins over NUI Galway (NUIG) and LIT on the way to an extra time 1-15 to 1-13 victory over University of Limerick (UL) to cap off an excellent season for the Glasnevin University.
“It was a good enough year for them (the freshers team). We did lose to UCC in the league down there by two points in the league semi final,” Roche said.
“We had a very good win against NUIG in Galway down in Dangan, very strong NUIG team managed by Geoff Lynskey, who managed the Galway minors this year who won the All Ireland.”
Roche also added that the freshers team was stacked with inter county stars. Donal Burke and Fergal Whitely are just two of eight players from Dublin involved with the Freshers last season, several of which also featured for the Dublin Senior Hurling Team in 2017.
“There’s Darren Mullen there as well who was impressive with the (Kilkenny) Under 21’s and was very impressive with Ballyhale Shamrocks over the weekend too.
“There’s Daire Gray, who was on the Dublin team as was Ciaran Dowling and Conor Burke.”
The DCU manager is excited for the challenge of trying to integrate the Freshers stars into a senior side that is already full of senior inter-county talent.
Waterford’s Patrick Curran and Wexford’s Paudie Foley and a Dublin contingent of Eoghan O’Donnell, Eoghan Conroy and Rian McBride among the stars, but his expectations for the year are simple.
“It’s the same as trying to blend an Under 21 team in with a senior team, it’s the same problem as that and it has a different level of competition as well and I’m sure the boys understand that and they’ll rise to that,” he said.
“We’re hoping to have a very strong league and go at the championship very hard.”
An exciting time for DCU Hurling.
Image credit: EoinNoonan/Sportsfile