McDonnell hopes freshers can help DCU play a winning style of football

20 February 2015; Drogheda United manager John McDonnell. Malone Cup, Dundalk FC v Drogheda United. Oriel Park, Dundalk, Co. Louth Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

DCU Head Coach Johnny McDonnell believes last year’s freshers team will bolster DCU’s chances of soccer success, saying that “the freshers that we had last year were a good group… they should gel in well with what we had last year.

“We still have our core group of what we had last year as well, so it’s about putting them together and getting them ready,” he added.

The Freshers side comfortably won the CUFL Division 4 title in a campaign that saw them post a 13-1 victory over Drogheda IFE and a 9-0 victory over Dunboyne College.

With the players making the move to the senior side, who play in the premier division, former Shelbourne and Drogheda United Boss McDonnell weighed up their future opponents.

“UCD are always favourites, basically, but they’re going through a bit of a change at the moment and some of the lads they had the last 4 or 5 years have gone on… but they’ll always have a very strong team,” he said

When asked if DCU are going to stick to a style of play McDonnell said “I don’t go with the philosophy thing, you have to work with what players you have and have a few plans… I have an idea what way we are going to play and the structure of the team.

“It’s important over the next couple of weeks that our training sessions are geared towards style … it’ll be very tactical training,” he added.

DCU’s Soccer Development Officer Fran Butler echoed McDonnell on the strength of rival UCD and talked about the merits of college football.

“UCD are fantastic in my opinion, you have so many players coming through the Collingwood Cup and even when you look at the big matches, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers for example, you had 5 or 6 players who played and won Collingwoods,” he said.

Last season DCU lost 2-1 to eventual champions UCCin the quarter-final of the Collingwood Cup. Butler said he “wasn’t expecting a whole lot in the Collingwood” last season but was “very impressed with the performance the lads put in”.

“We conceded a couple of early goals but proceed to absolutely batter (UCC) for the last 50-60 minutes, made it very difficult for them, we were unlucky; hit the post a couple of times, hit the crossbar, and based on our league performances I wasn’t expecting that” Butler said

“Hopefully a year on we can hold our own again and build with the new group”, he added.

One thing that will affect performances, however, is the level of experience players have before being recruited to DCU. “In the last couple of years we’re not getting as many players in DCU playing football in Airtricity League first teams (but) everything is cyclical,” Butler said.

“There is a younger profile in the League of Ireland now… and we see ourselves as a development pathway especially because league of Ireland caters up until u19… but if you’re 20, 21, 22 there’s still time to develop,” he added.

Shane Brennan

Credit Sportsfile