Former DCU football manager Niall Moyna has cited this current DCU team as being one of the best panels the University has ever seen, as they approach the final hurdle of the 2020 championship against the Institute of Technology Carlow (IT Carlow), at the DCU Sportsground tonight (Wednesday, 7.30pm).
Moyna knows all about the magic of University football, being at the DCU helm for almost 20 years, winning 4 Sigerson cups, 2 Ryan cups and 2 O’Byrne cups in his time as manager. Whilst the Monaghan native is confident on a DCU victory, he does not want the players to get ahead of themselves and take IT Carlow for granted.
“Every team you face in this competition is a new challenge, you must treat them like they are the best team in the country, regardless of the odds. The Sigerson championship is a funny competition, if you lose, you’re gone, there is no second chances. So, you must treasure days like this, they don’t come around to often,” said Moyna.
Last Wednesday, having already twice defied the odds, Pat Critchley’s IT Carlow team won their semi-final, thanks to an injury-time goal against Letterkenny IT, a team under the management of Donegal football deity Michael Murphy – with that securing a first ever Sigerson Cup final appearance for IT Carlow. Moyna can relate his own successes with the one of IT Carlow but feels it won’t be a day for the underdog this time around.
“I recall many days when my teams defied the odds in the championship. When we last won the Sigerson in 2015, nobody was giving us a chance the whole tournament, but we stuck to our plan, played to our strengths and came out Sigerson winners.”
“I don’t feel this will be IT Carlow’s crowning day. I’ve watched all of DCU’s matches this season and I think this DCU side are just too good. Paddy and his coaching staff have done an unbelievable job. Their players all around the field are extremely well drilled and they have men who can come off the bench and make a difference, which is extremely important.”
Moyna has also compared DCU’s current status in the championship (getting home advantage), from the days when he oversaw the football aspects at the University.
“There can be that little bit of pressure playing in your own home ground because there is the big expectation for the home team to succeed, but I feel having four home games in the competition really helped. When we won the Sigerson in 2015 all our games were away from home, and back then you had to play the semi-final and the final within two days of each other, so, I feel having that gap between matches and having home advantage is that little bit less stressful and will give Paddy and the boys a better opportunity to prepare,” said Moyna.
With Paddy Christie only in his second season as manager, DCU will enter their sixth ever final as hot favourites, having won the tournament for the first time in 2006, followed up by three more victories in 2010, 2012 and 2015. They only ever lost in a final once at the hands of UCD back in 2016.
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