DCU Volleyball will be hoping to carry their success from April’s first ever beach volleyball inter-varsities into the new college year.
However, with only around 20% of their members from last year still at the club, they will again be relying on Erasmus students and new first years.
“There’s a reliance on who comes through the Erasmus and the new first years. I’d say only 20% of our members from last year are there this year, that’s what you’ve got to deal with in a minority sport,” DCU Volleyball coach Benny O’Regan told The College View.
The difference between Erasmus students and those starting to learn the sport in college is largely down to the experience they have with playing the sport.
“It’s in terms of bringing up the calibre, the competitive know how and the technical ability,” O’Regan said when speaking of what Erasmus students in particular bring to the club.
DCU mainly play in a league under Student Sport Ireland along with playing inter-varsities and other tournaments throughout the year, such as the Munster Cup.
“With DCU, the main one they play in is under Student Sport Ireland. They played a league which is four rounds (two rounds before and after Christmas), a quarter-final, semi-final, final and then there’s the intervarsities.”
“We aren’t in the Volleyball All-Ireland league because a lot of the time we deal with a revolving door of new people, it’s more of an international sport than an Irish based sport.”
“Young people are either on Erasmus for half the year or the year or are PhD or masters for a year. A lot of the time it’s a revolving door of that group and there’s not a lot who came through Irish school’s systems for a full undergraduate degree,” O’Regan said.
Irish International O’Regan, now in his second stint of coaching with DCU, having rejoined in 2016, is one of two main drivers for Beach Volleyball and the first ever Beach Volleyball Intervarsities took place towards the end of the last academic year in April.
The intervarsities saw DCU come away with huge success, as the DCU 1 team, made up of Aurelien Gimenez and Irish international Wil Oshoke went unbeaten, beating UCC 2, DCU 3, IT Tallaght, Cork IT, IT Carlow 1, UCD 1 and UCC 1 to book a place in the final.
They again played UCC 1 in the final and beat the Cork outfit for the second time to win the first Men’s Beach Volleyball cup.
This wasn’t the only success of the intervarsities as the Men’s Plate Final was an all DCU affair. The DCU 2 team, made up of Jorge Campillo and Shota Umemiva, drew three of their qualifying group matches and dropped into the Plate section.
They then beat the DCU 4 team of Ayud Beshir and Pablo Bonet before beating Queen’s to qualify for the Plate Final.
However, the DCU 4 team of Beshir and Bonet themselves qualified for the final and got their revenge on their DCU Volleyball teammates to win the first ever Intervarsity Beach Volleyball Plate title and in turn finished 11th and 12th overall.
In the women’s tournament, DCU had two of the ten competing teams, including indoor internationals, Mary Creaton and Aoibhin Cassidy.
Creaton and Cassidy, who formed DCU 1, won two and lost two of their group games and dropped to the Plate competition on points difference.
They were joined in the Plate section by the DCU 2 pairing of Eimear O’Donoughue and Jumi Nishikawa, who finished tenth overall.
DCU 1, however, went on to take gold in the plate, ahead of Cork IT and Athlone IT, making it three wins from four competitions for DCU Volleyball.
O’Regan likes to have the players playing as regularly as he can and there were more positive results for the club last year.
“There’s usually a tournament once a month. We enter them, whether it’s the Munster Cup in Cork in March and we won the Mixed Championships (in Gormanston) back in February.”
“There’s always opportunities to play fundraisers too so we make ourselves available,” O’Regan said.
At the Indoor intervarsities in Cork in November, DCU’s girls team also came away with silverware, beating GMIT to win the Plate. However, O’Regan admitted they are some way short of the strength of UCD.
“They’ll (DCU) not be as strong as UCD Women, they’ve a proper system in place, coming from volleyball schools or not exactly scholarships but coming from Europe,” he told The College View.
“They are studying, and they already come from a culture of volleyball and are playing for a proper school or club. The skill level they have is way different compared to a lot of the other universities with the calibre of player they get,” O’Regan continued.
Image Credit: DCU Volleyball/Facebook.