LIKE all football the Colleges and Universities season came to an abrupt halt with the FAI announcement to meet with all Department of Health and HSE guidelines.
Although fixtures had been pencilled in to possibly resume on March 29 that date has now past and with all foorball sidelined to at least May 5, the conclusion of the Third Level playing season remains uncertain.
WORDS: John Hudson/ IMAGES: Eamon Scott
While there are still some competitions outstanding the bulk of the Colleges and Universities trophies have already been won.
All of the Irish Universities Football Union (IUFU) cup competitions have taken place during the past few months with the winners spread throughout the country among six different universities.
The Colleges FAI (CFAI) were also able to complete their programme of cup finals earlier this month in the Athlone Town Stadium and in March the finals of six of the seven divisions of the Colleges and Universities Football League (CUFL) were successfully staged again at the same splendid midland venue.
The only outstanding league title yet to be decided is the Women’s Division One where DCU were due to face University of Limerick at 8 o’c last Thursday night but that had to be halted after the close down was announced some hours earlier.
Unfortunately the final stages of the Women’s Kelly and O’Regan Cups which were due to be held on March 24 and 25 at the Waterford IT Arena have been postponed as have the finals of the CUFL Men’s and Women’s National Futsal Cups at the same venue.
The league titles already decided were well spread among six different third level institutions with the all the island nature of the CUFL clearly emphasised by South West College Enniskillen taking the Division Three crown for the first time ever courtesy of an Alex Holder second half goal against the Maynooth University ‘C’ side.
The Women’s Premier Division also went to Northern Ireland for the first time with Ulster University coming from behind to defeat Maynooth University 3-2 helped by two goals from full back Naomi Dornan in a thrilling decider.
UCD picked up their eight Premier title in the 13 years of the competition with a narrow 2-1 victory over IT Sligo who were only promoted to the top flight as Division One champions two season’s ago.
Yoyo Mahdy was the Belfield side’s hero grabbing both goals but they needed goalkeeper Lorcan Healy to be at his best after defender Harvey O’Brien’s unfortunate own goal levelled matter at 1-1 and then Sligo mounted a strong late challenge in a bid to get back on terms for a second time.
It was tough on the Sligo side who had suffered defeat to IT Carlow in the CFAI Perpetual Cup the previous week.
Long serving manager Pat Scully finally got to lead TU Dublin-Tallaght back to the top flight after several years of heartbreak battling for promotion by claiming the Division One title.
Ola Lawal’s early first half goal looked to have Tallaght on their way to the title but in the end it took a penalty shoot out victory to see the South Dublin side over the line against a dogged NUI Galway after a late Ruairi Casserly equaliser had kept the westerners in the hunt.
National College of Ireland striker Josh Hogan hit a hat trick to see off Galway Technical Institute in the Division Two decider while UCC ‘D’ proved too strong for Bray Institute in the Division Four final winning 7-0.
The CFAI’s top trophy the Perpetual Cup went to IT Carlow for an eight time in ten years with a comprehensive 4-1 win over IT Sligo.
Ronan Gallagher’s neat headed had given Sligo an early lead but Carlow came back strongly and goals from Mark Birrane, Shane Barnes, Danny Doyle and Dean Kelly gave them another cup win as IT Sligo finished the game with seven players.
The clash of the two Dublin sides in the Perpetual Shield final saw the TU Dublin-Blanchardstown ‘B’ side spring a surprise by comfortably getting the better of close rivals TU Dublin-Tallaght 4-1 with goals from Kiefer Trappe (2), Niall Gleeson and Karl Canning.
History was made in the Challenge Cup final with IT Tralee claiming a first ever trophy in Colleges and Universities football with a Matthew Shortt-Doyle early second half goal that proved just about enough to edge past the IT Carlow ‘C’ side.
Darragh O’Connor hit a brilliant hat trick and a Luke Murphy goal helped the TU Dublin-City Campus ‘C’ side captured their first ever Bob Eustace Cup with clear cut 4-0 defeat of IADT Dun Laoghaire.
While Cork IT ‘D’ were comprehensive winners of the Eustace Shield with a resounding 5-0 defeat of GMIT Mayo.
Jack O’Connor’s winning spot kick in the penalty shoot out gave DCU an historic first ever Collingwood Cup success in the 100th final of the IUFU blue ribband competition played at Dalymount Park the venue for the first final in 1914.
Ulster University had proved dogged opponents in the decider and after both sides who feeling the effects of playing their third cup tie in as many days failed to hit the target the game ended scoreless even after 20 minutes of extra time.
The Farquhar Cup went to the hosts Trinity College Dublin with another penalty shoot out needed to decide the outcome in the final against Maynooth University that ended 3-3.
UCD picked up their 20th IUFU Harding Cup in the 30 year history of the competition for Freshers and their first since 2016 with a 3-0 defeat of Maynooth University at Queens University Belfast.
Two well taken set piece first half goals from central defenders Harvey O’Brien and Tom O’Connor with Colm Whelan adding the third saw the Belfield home.
UCC Freshers proved too strong for a weary University of Limerick and they comfortably took the Spillane Cup for defeated Harding quarter finalists on a 5-0 scoreline.
The IUFU cup competitions were completed earlier in March when the hosts Maynooth University defeated UCC to claim the Crowley Cup.
The sides finished at 1-1 after extra time and the home side came out on top 8-7 in the penalty shoot out. Patrick O’Callaghan put UCC in front before Lord Afrika eventually levelled the tie.
Finally Royal College of Surgeons won the Duggan Cup, their first IUFU trophy since their only other Duggan Cup success in 2008 with a 3-0 win over DCU.
Hopefully football will resume at some stage but the decisions on completing the outstanding competitions can wait until we all get through this unprecedented period.
ALL THE WINNERS
Premier Division: UCD
Division One: TU Dublin-Tallaght
Division Two: National College of Ireland
Division Three: South West College-Enniskillen
Division Four: UCC ‘D’
Premier Division: Ulster University
Division One: DCU or University of Limerick
Perpetual Cup: IT Carlow
Perpetual Shield: TU Dublin-Blanchardstown ‘B’
Challenge Cup: IT Tralee
Eustace Cup: TU Dublin-City Campus ‘C’
Eustace Shield: Cork IT ‘D’
Collingwood Cup: DCU
Farquhar Cup: Trinity College Dublin
Crowley Cup: Maynooth University
Duggan Cup: Royal College of Surgeons
Harding Cup (Freshers): UCD
Spillane Cup (Freshers): UCC