Eamonn McEneaney has set his DkIT players a top-of-the-table target ahead of tonight’s final round group clash with TUS Midlands in Dundalk (7pm).
The Dublin Road outfit are on course to head the three-team pool moving into the semi-final stage where either Mary Immaculate College or TUS Midwest await – that pair play off this afternoon to decide the qualification order on the other side of the draw.
Having comfortably fended off SETU Waterford in Munster last week, DkIT will be keen to gain some measure of revenge for their Division 2 final defeat by the midlands side and manager McEneaney is hopeful of having an even greater pick to select from, including potentially having Monaghan’s Gary Mohan, who is the team captain, available.
“The carrot is topping the group and that you play the second team in the group in a semi-final,” he said.
“That’s what we’re aiming for and hopefully we can do it.
“With college teams, gelling is never the issue. They have that camaraderie anyway because of the nature of college football. There are certain fellas who we didn’t have (in Waterford) because they’re struggling with a niggle and we told them to do what they had to to get right.
“We came with the squad we have and were happy to do that. We’re hoping that the fellas we didn’t have that we will have for (the second game)… If everybody uses their head, I think we can try to achieve that together.
“We probably don’t know exactly what they’re going to have but they had a lot of the players against Waterford that they had against us before Christmas. We’re going to be facing the same type of challenge but every game is different at college level. People up their game at times and between ourselves and TUS Midlands, there is a type of rivalry there at the minute. We’d be hoping to bring plenty to the party.”
DkIT looked far sharper than their SETU counterparts in their Trench Cup opener despite the Waterford-based outfit having had the advantage of a match a week beforehand. Mohan, Peter Lynch (Louth) and Gerard Browne (Louth) were among the players which Dundalk fielded without and this gave an opportunity to several others, McEneaney insisted.
“I think everybody on our team is training with somebody at the moment and quite a few of them are training with county teams,” added the Monaghan-native.
“Even the club players, they were all in with county teams or around that type of standard, and they’ve shown a real appetite for playing for DkIT and that’s what we need.
“Jack McEvoy, he is playing midfield for Offaly and captained us, he has shown a real hunger for this and a serious attitude. He’s leading by example and a lot of guys are doing likewise.”
SETU WATERFORD 0-5
DUNDALK IT 2-14
Louth forward Jay Hughes was easily the most impressive performer on show last Tuesday night as DkIT easily swept aside the feeble challenge of the locals in Waterford.
The Dreadnots clubman bagged 1-4 in the first half as DkIT went to half-time with a 1-9 to 0-2 advantage, with Tom Gray (2), Shea Loye and Patrick Johnston (2) joining Hughes on the scoresheet.
Free-taker Karol Grimes hit all bar one of SETU’s scores and that, a Dylan Furlong effort, came from play early in the second half, though Tom Gray’s sublimely-converted goal ended whatever comeback aspirations the hosts had harboured.
“The game was all about attitude and workrate and they showed those qualities right from the word ‘go’,” McEneaney said of his team’s application.
“You could see it in the first 10 minutes – the inter-play, passing and support were exactly what we were looking for and there was a hunger to win.
“The team’s last game was the losing league final and quite a few of the boys who were out there weren’t playing that day. The boys who were, they were keen to put their best foot forward and the other guys who didn’t, they were mad to show that they want a starting place going forward because there are a few guys due to come back to us. It’s great to have that type of a pick.”
Goalkeeper Shane Garland had a particularly influential game, pushing up the pitch and creating overlaps that exploited Waterford’s limitations.
SETU WATERFORD: Ben Kirwan; Cillian O’Brien, Water Halley, Ryan Furlong; Colin Foley, Cathal Sheehan, Jordan O’Sullivan; Jason Early, Seán Murphy; Seamus Fitzgerald, Dylan Furlong 0-1, Jim McGuirk; Conor McCarthy, Conor Murphy, Karol Grimes 0-4 (4f). Subs: Eoin Twomey, Keelan Taylor, Mikey Griffin, Ross McNally, Liam Fennell, Samuel Pituch, Ronan Byrne.
DUNDALK IT: Shane Garland; Shane Hanratty, Seán Healy, Conor Clarke 0-1; Eoin Clarke, Lee Rice, Liam Stafford; Jack McEvoy, Fearghal Malone; Shane Slevin, Tom Gray 1-2, Shea Loye 0-1; Jay Hughes 1-6 (0-1f, 0-1m), Cathal Fleming 0-1, Patrick Johnston 0-2. Subs: Peter McStravick, Endy Ehichoya, Marc Ward, Robert Quigley 0-1, Godfrey Ehichoya, Dean Burns.
REFEREE: Seán Lonergan (Tipperary).