Quarter-final loss brings curtain down on rugby season

The rugby season ended for the DCU first team last Wednesday with a 27-10 loss to Waterford IT at the quarter-final stage of the All Ireland competition.

The DCU team never really got going this year but then again, neither did the season. The team had only played two competitive matches leading up to the quarter-final clash so there are plenty of excuses available to Phil de Barra. The head coach acknowledges that he had higher hopes for the season, but was still happy with his team’s quarter-final showing.

“I actually thought it was a good performance and one of the best that we had this year. The result didn’t go our way but I still thought we did very well. If I am being honest, I would have hoped we did a little bit better this season but I’m still pretty happy with how things went over the course of the year.”

“The lineout went well and we put them under a lot of pressure in that area. Stephen Murray got on really well at the front and disrupted a lot of their ball. Isaac Porter carried very well from the back of the scrum. He was able to make a lot of forward yards,” continued de Barra.

After the previous outing against Maynooth, Chairman David Burson lamented the fact that the team didn’t exploit their backline advantage more and hoped the team would be more adventurous. De Barra was pleased with the performance of his outside backs, but acknowledged that achieving parity up front was important to give his side a platform.

“Our forwards were going well so we tried to play as much rugby as we could down in their half. But our backline created a lot of space for us. When we went wide we were able to outflank them on numerous occasions and that was great from my point of view.”

While the loss to WIT marked the end of the first’s campaign, there is still some rugby to be played. A sevens tournament in Queen’s follows the second’s semi-final next week.

“The second’s semi-final will give us a chance to play the guys who are in their final year so that will be a good opportunity for them to bow out on. We will enjoy the day and hopefully get the right result. The ladies team are also contesting a final soon so a lot of preparation and focus will go into making sure they are ready for that game,” said de Barra.

This was de Barra’s first year in charge at DCU so he came in not being familiar with the players. It took him a while to get to know all the new faces but with many returning next year, he hopes to be able to hit the ground running.

“It will be easier to organise training a lot earlier in the year. Next season I will know the committee coming into the year and I will be familiar with a lot of the returning players. I have limited access to them – only once or twice a week – so this season it was hard to assess everyone’s strength and weaknesses. My knowledge of the guys that are returning will be very helpful at the start of next season.”

While the first’s may not have achieved de Barra’s pre-season hopes, he feels that the foundation built this year will allow him to reap some rewards in the next campaign.

“College rugby is cyclical, players come in and hopefully you have them for three or four years. We had a great bunch of first years come into the fold this year and I think that gives us a strong foundation going forward. While I hoped we might get a little further in the competition, I am still happy with the progress we made this season.”

Will Slattery

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