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UCD Harding Cup Champions 2013

UCD beat Trinity College 3-0 in the final on Sunday afternoon trophy 1

The sentiment of treating every game like a cup final is often used to encourage players to give everything to the game and leave it all out on the pitch. After the 90 minutes plus added time in the Harding Cup final 2013 the UCD players came in from the bitter cold, wind and rain having done just that.

The battle between UCD and Dublin University (Trinity) was a classic cup final affair at the University of Ulster, Coleraine. With both teams having the added opportunity of getting one over on their biggest rivals. UCD had beaten the University of Limerick 5-1 and a very strong NUI Galway side 1-0 to get into the final. Whilst Trinity overcame UCC after extra-time winning 1-0 in the quarters and outscored the hosts UU Coleraine 3-2 in a tight semi-final. Both teams were more than up for a high tempo game to be played in undesirable conditions. Credit must be given to the staff in Coleraine for making the pitch playable despite the dire weather situation throughout the weekend. The scene was set for another intense contest between two colleges who have a long history as rivals in all aspects of college life.top scoers1

A 1 o’clock kick off didn't do much to help the pitch as the rain car persisted without hesitation. Puddles and soft patches were spread all over the pitch. As expected the game started at a frantic pace with both sides trying to get the best start possible and potentially nick an early goal. First half chances were minimal as the two teams cancelled each other out however it was UCD who appeared the more comfortable in possession. Brian Reilly coming closest with a shot that just crept over the bar after a good switch of play from centre mid Luke Dunne. That said Trinity did look to threat the boys in blue (in white on the day) from set pieces. Goalkeeper Niall Corbet was always on hand to give the defenders a dig out if needed. The sides went in level at half time 0-0.

Both UCD and Trinity began the second half as they had the first with neither side giving the other time or space. It took a slice of luck and the clinical finish of Colin Jones to change all that. After a tight 75 minutes the ball was played long from Stephen Moran and Colin Jones worked hard as the 'keeper came out thinking the ball would come through to him. Due to the heavy pitch the ball held up slightly, giving Jones just enough time to strike home and give UCD the opening goal from the edge of the box.

Getting the first goal gave UCD the momentum to grab a second as a few minutes later Eoin Monaghan got his first goal of the season when Trinity failed to clear from a corner. The ball fell to ‘Mono’ who took a touch and calmly struck low into the net to give UCD a much-needed 2nd goal. Towards the end of the game the goalscorer turned provider as his long ball was headed on by Marcos Byrne to set it up on a plate for the oncoming Colin Jones made it 3-0, delivering a final blow to a tiring Trinity side. The cup was coming back to Belfield.

trophy 2Victory means UCD have won an impressive 8 out of the last 13 in the Harding Cup competition since the turn of the century.

Speaking after the game captain Declan Keaney was elated:

"We’re all delighted with the win ! We have a great bunch of players in the squad who are all willing to work till the very end to get the win. We were carrying a few knocks coming into the game but I think playing through it shows the character that our players have. Its been a great experience up here and the encouragement from ‘Sherro’ (Tony Sheridan) and Conor Mccarthy aswell as Diarmuid Mcnally really spurred us on today as it has all season."

While Manager Tony Sheridan was also happy with the weekend's work:

"The lads worked really hard this weekend with three games in three days and I want to congratulate them on the win, things were tight in the final but our football shone through in the end and this sets the college up nicely for the Collingwood Cup in a couple of weeks. I would like to thank assistant manager Conor McCathy, Diarmuid McNally and all of the players for a great weekend's work."

(pic left, Captain Declan Keaney with the trophy, pic above right, Colin Jones and Marcus Byrne, joint top scorers in The Harding Cup 2013)

Reports from the 1/4 final and 1/4 final are here http://www.ucdsoccer.com/intervarsities/harding-cup/1609