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DCU FINALLY GET TO DEFEND THE COLLINGWOOD CUP

By John Hudson

It’s over two years now since DCU finally managed to win their first ever Irish Universities Collingwood Cup.

After defeating UCD and University of Limerick on successive days on their way to the final, the Glasnevin side then crowned it all on the third day of the competition by capturing the historic cup on a memorable night at Dalymount Park edging out Ulster University in a penalty shootout after the decider had finished scoreless.

DCU get their first opportunity to retain the cup when they take on another Northern Ireland side Queen’s University Belfast in one of to-days four quarter final ties at Glasnevin (2.0).

The usual three day tournament hosted by one university was scrapped this year in favour of a normal knock out cup format with each round played on different dates throughout February and the final scheduled for Wednesday March 16 at a venue to be confirmed.

DCU with cup winning coach Johnny McDonnell still at the helm, although they are without head coach Declan Roche who is unable to return from his coaching position in China. They go into the first defence of the Collingwood minus most of the 2020 winning side.  

Fran Butler the long serving Football Development Officer at the Glasnevin university admits he has grown fond of having the Collingwood Cup in the trophy cabinet but says a lot has gone on since the famous win.

“To finally claim the cup was a huge relief so it would be nice if we could retain it. In the intervening two years we lost most of the winning squad and only goalkeeper Imrich Toth, defender Ryan Smith and midfielder Aaron Connolly are still with us. 

 “Also two lads who were with us for the league campaign have moved on to continue their studies in universities abroad. 

“Although we lack experience I’m confident we can do well against Queens.

“In our Division One game before Christmas we managed a 1-1 draw in Belfast and in fairness it might easily have been a win for us if we had taken our chances.”

Queens on the other hand just missed out on making it to the Division One semi-finals losing their vital final league game 1-0 at Oriel Park to Dundalk IT.

The Belfast side are also focused on retaining their place in the Northern Ireland Football League second tier and are currently battling to avoid relegation so they have tended to leave out several current students who are involved with that side.

Manager Neil McGaughey was hoping that he could use some of these players at DCU but a decision on that has still to be made.

The same situation arises at Belfield where UCD take on UCC just days before they visit Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division opener.

UCD didn’t use any of the promotion winning League of Ireland squad in their Colleges and Universities Premier Division fixtures this season opting instead to include players from their Leinster Senior League and those in the League of Ireland under 19 division side. With a big game on Friday it is unlikely they’ll risk many of the first team squad against Cork.

In the other quarter final ties Maynooth entertain Trinity College the shock 1-0 first round winners over the fancied University of Limerick. While NUI Galway who defeated Mary Immaculate Limerick 3-2 in their first-round meeting took on Ulster University the beaten finalists in 2020 and that game is at the AUL Complex. All kick offs are at 2.0 and if the games finish level after 90 minutes there is no extra time just straight to penalties.

The semi finals are scheduled for next week with details to be announced after the to-day’s games.

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