The DCU Junior footballers lost the Junior championship final in bizarre fashion last Wednesday in NUIG grounds.
The culminating two rounds were played out in a league format which saw the semi-finals scrapped as the Dundalk team dropped out of the competition with its players electing to play for their Fresher side over their junior team.
DCU Dóchas Éireann, IT Sligo and IT Tralee all played off against each other in thirty-minute games with DCU topping the group before losing to IT Sligo in the final.
“We had to hang around for forty minutes while Sligo and Tralee played each other,” said the DCU Captain.
DCU Junior Captain Kevin McKeon had no complaints about their loss to IT Sligo as the Sligo college had the momentum and ruthlessness of champions in the final match.
“We played IT Sligo again in the final and they beat us by a few points,” said McKeon.
“We nearly didn’t have any momentum going into the final as opposed to Sligo who had just been playing,” he added.
The structure of the tournament stopped any hope of a DCU resurgence in the final with the thirty-minute game time proving too short for McKeon’s men to stage a comeback.
“Sligo got two sloppy goals in the final and then went defensive,” he said.
“Because they were only fifteen-minute halves it was difficult for us to claw that back,”
“We missed a lot of chances ourselves and made stupid decisions, so it was disappointing in that sense when we had already beaten them, to lose to them in the final,” he added.
McKeon was sceptical of the casual way the Junior Higher Education Championship was dealt with following Dundalk’s departure from the tournament.
“We were meant to be playing IT Sligo [in a semi-final] and then IT Tralee were meant to play Dundalk, the winners would play each other in a final and there would be a third-place playoff,” he said.
“I think they should’ve just played a semi-final and a final, I don’t know if they were just trying to run it off or what the story was,”
“They definitely would’ve been much better off just playing a semi-final and a final, just for player welfare,” he added.
McKeon could not imagine the Sigerson tournament being dealt with in such disregard to player well-being.
“It definitely wouldn’t happen in the Sigerson. The way it would happen for Sigerson is that they would have a weekend and play a semi that night and the final the following day,” he said.
“They scrapped that as well because of issues with player welfare, but especially for an All-Ireland Junior competition, its kind of ridiculous that they run it off in one day,”
“We wouldn’t be complaining if we had won but the actual format could take a bit of revising,” he added.
McKeon was not disheartened by the loss as he and his teammates were delighted to get the chance to represent DCU at the top table of the Junior Championship.
“It’s a great chance for lads to actually play with their college. At the start of the year there was sixty lads who wanted to play,” he said.
“The way that David Neary and the management did it was at the start of the year they played a different team for the League,”
“So many lads wanted to play, and it was good to give all of them a chance to play for DCU,” he added.
McKeon was proud of his teammates and looked back on their season with fondness.
“If you do get to a final its never considered a bad thing you’ve still made it there,” he said.
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