DCU crowned Collingwood champions for the first time in history

Ruairi Carberry

DCU 0 Ulster University 0 (DCU win 4-1 on pens)

Dublin City University wrote themselves into the history books as they claimed their first ever Collingwood Cup, triumphing over Ulster University on penalties at Dalymount Park on Wednesday February 5th. 

Dalymount Park hosted the 100th Collingwood Cup decider, which was also the Dublin college’s first-ever final appearance.

They had advanced to the decider courtesy of a 5-1 victory over 2019 runners-up University of Limerick, after their shock win over University College Dublin on Monday.

Speaking after the game triumphant DCU coach, Johnny McDonnell, described the victory as “fantastic.”

“We knew it was going to be tight, the way we played all week we didn’t deviate away from that. Ulster University are a very good team. They tried to get it down and play, but we were just strong, resilient, kept our shape all over the pitch and we just grounded it out.”

The game, the third in as many days for both sides, was closely contested throughout with Ulster University controlling much of the ball without causing much concern in front of the DCU goal.

The best chance of the first period arrived five minutes before half-time as DCU’s Jack O’ Connor latched onto a ball and managed to round Ulster University stopper, Matty McClurg. The striker’s attempt was on target and would have opened the scoring had it not been for a last-gasp goal-line clearance.

The best play originated down the left-hand side for both teams. Craig Taylor was a constant menace for Ulster on the overlap, and he whipped several dangerous balls into the DCU box, while on the opposite flank Triston Noack Hofmann marauded forward and caused Ulster problems by linking up well with Sean McCarthy.

In the second half, chances were again few and far between. Ronan Wilson was a constant bright spark for the Ulstermen, dropping in between DCU’s midfield and back four. However, his best work happened far away from the goal, so he did not trouble the North Dublin college too much.

This continued for much of the second half with both sides probing tentatively without creating much in the way of clear-cut opportunities.

O’Connor, who scored a brace in the semi-final against the University of Limerick was largely starved of service and struggled to make any headway against a solid UU backline.

As the game wore on, the toll of the past three days began to show. Both sides began to slow as extra-time got underway.

Neither team was willing to take any risks and concede the goal that looked likely to decide the affair. As the match was drawing to a close, penalties were looking inevitable.

After the first two penalties were routinely dispatched, Ulster faltered first, missing their following two strikes, while each DCU penalty taker coolly converted each of theirs.

That left Jack O’ Connor, a key figure for DCU in their first ever Harding cup success a few years back when he was a fresher. O’Connor stepped forward to bury the penultimate kick before wheeling away to celebrate the Dublin sides’ first Collingwood Cup victory in its 40-year history.

DCU midfielder Sean Cronin echoed McDonnell’s assessment;

“We knew we were gonna be tired but in fairness to Ulster they held on until the end. At the very start I thought we were going to be in for a very tough match. Eventually, it was about – because we’ve played three matches in a row – who was gonna make the least mistakes, and I think we did on the day, so we deserved it on the penos I think.”

Ruairi Carberry

Image Credit: Ruairi Carberry