Freshers win Division Four title in Abbotstown

Gerard Grimes

Mark O'Connor scores for DCU in the final against O'Fiaich.

DCU’s Fresher side lifted the CUFL Division Four title with a 4-1 victory over O’Fiaich Institute of Further Education in Abbotstown last week.

Stephen Kearns opened the scoring for Tony Cousins’ side in the sixth minute before Reginald John equalised for the Dundalk outfit on after twenty two minutes.

DCU lead 2-1 at the break after Mark O’Connor finished from close range at the back post.

Zach Gorman extended DCU’s lead in the second half before Diarmuid Sexton slotted under O’Fiaich goalkeeper Precious Kent to make it 4-1.

DCU’s path to the final saw them comfortably progress through the group phase, winning all four of their games.

They beat Drogheda Institute of FE ‘B’, O’Fiaich Institute of FE, Dunboyne College of FE and Dundalk IT ‘C’, scoring thirty and conceding just three.

The group started off with a 13-1 victory at home to Drogheda before a 5-2 away victory to last week’s finalists O’Fiaich.

A 9-0 victory over Dunboyne followed before they ended the group stage with a 3-0 victory over Dundalk IT.

The quarter-final saw DCU beat UCC ‘D’ 6-3 at home before they progressed to the final with a 5-3 win on penalties over Waterford College of FE after the sides drew 2-2 in normal time.

Cousins Freshers’ side played in the Harding Cup the week previous, losing in the quarter-final of the main tournament to UL.

That saw DCU drop into the Spillane Cup semi-finals against NUI Galway where goals from Jake Molloy and Ryan Smith sent DCU through to the final of the secondary competition despite Evan Hudner’s goal for NUIG.

However, DCU fell just short in the final, falling to a 2-1 defeat to Trinity in extra-time. Segun Bolungun scored a brace for Trinity, while Eli Ward netted DCU’s goal, which brought the game to extra-time late on.

DCU went into the Harding with high expectations but Mark O’Connor, who also played for the senior side this season, believes that experience may have helped when it came to the league final last week.

“Of course we had the expectation to win the Harding. We definitely had the quality to do so, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out like that.

“The lads put in a good shift and did very well to get to the Spillane Final, but again it just wasn’t to be,” O’Connor said.

“I think that them losses gave us a kick to get the heads screwed on for the Division title final. It was a great feeling to get some silverware after a great season.

“All the lads played brilliant and controlled the game from start to finish. It was one of the best displays all season in my opinion and we fully deserved the win,” O’Connor told The College View.

League final goalscorer O’Connor missed out on playing in the Collingwood Cup this season but spoke of the experience of his first year in college football.

“I’ve really enjoyed my first year in college football. I made a lot of new friends and scored lots of goals so couldn’t be better.

“I’ve played for both the Freshers and the Senior Squad throughout the season but unfortunately couldn’t play in the Collingwood due to injury so I’d love to be involved again next year.

“I gained a lot of experience playing quality teams such as UCD and I feel like this has helped me develop and mature as a player,” O’Connor said.

Man of the Match in the league final, Dylan Glancy, felt the side were deserved champions after feeling like they could have got more out of the Harding Cup the previous week.

“I feel like we could have made more of the tournament (Harding Cup) if I’m honest. We didn’t play a game with a full-strength squad due to injuries and other commitments unfortunately.

“I personally was gutted to miss the opener against UL. We took each game very much so as if came and battled hard to get what we could out of a very enjoyable tournament.

“I think we were deserved (Division 4) champions in the end. We were definitely the team to beat all the way through. It was great to cap it off with some silverware,” he said.

Glancy also plays at League of Ireland underage level with Longford Town and explained the different challenges presented in college football.

“I’m with my home town club which is Longford Town this year and have been with them since U-15 level.

“College football is very different in terms of physicality and pace of the game. Games are more physical and cagey compared to League of Ireland level.

“You could be by far the better footballing side and come away with nothing,” Glancy said.

Gerard Grimes

Image Credit: Third Level Football