“Everything is on in this tournament” – Declan Roche

Alex Dunne

DCU Soccer manager Declan Roche, during their 2-1 victory over UL. Credit: Mark Carroll.

DCU soccer manager Declan Roche is targeting a first Collingwood Cup victory for the university in the upcoming showpiece tournament. 

The Collingwood, the most prestigious cup in third level football, kicks off February 5th in Queen’s University in Belfast, where DCU open their campaign against University Ulster Jordanstown.

“Our targets are, when we’re playing in everything, to try win everything,” Roche said.

“We’re in the semi-final of the league, and the quarter-final of the Collingwood, and our focus now is going to Belfast and playing Jordanstown.

“The Collingwood is a difficult competition, tight margins, one-odd goals, late goals, everything is on in this tournament. We’re just hoping we’re on the right side of it on day one to get us to the semi-finals.”

UUJ sit two divisions below the DCU side they’ll come up against, but Roche maintains Collingwood Cup competition is very different and his side have to be wary.

“The Collingwood is different,” he stated.

“[NUI] Galway came here in the league and it was a 7-0 game, last week in the Collingwood it was a 1-0 late game.

“Jordanstown will be no different. The Collingwood means a lot to a lot of people, a lot of the focus is on the Collingwood for a lot of universities.”

Roche was without a few key players for the visit of UL, with Gavin Kearney ruled out with a hip flexor injury, Rory Feely with a groin problem, and Jack O’Connor ill, but he expects a full-strength squad for Belfast.

He also noted the strain placed on players at this time of the season, with League of Ireland side’s pre-season programmes in full swing.

“I don’t foresee too many problems, all the teams always have their best players there,” he said.

“The release of players can be a contentious issue with clubs sometimes, but I’m trying my best to work with all the managers to try get a balance.

“We have a lot of players on scholarship, and their scholarship duties entail that they’ve got to play for DCU in important games.

“It’s a short window, the season is over in two weeks and it doesn’t affect them again until October, so that’s all we ask of them.”

Alex Dunne

Image Credit: Mark Carroll