There was heartbreak for Dublin University Ladies Association Football Club (DULAFC) on Thursday, as a late University College Dublin (UCD) goal consigned them to defeat in the final of the Women’s Soccer Colleges Association of Ireland (WSCAI) Challenge Cup Final. The game was played in Limerick, and marked a golden opportunity at silverware for Trinity, in what was the side’s first-ever final. After a pulsating game, however, a goal five minutes from time from Katrina Moore was enough for UCD to seal the victory.
The tone for the game was set right from the first whistle, with both sides playing with pace and purpose if a little short on quality in front of goal. Neither DULAFC nor UCD were able to assert any degree of dominance, and both keepers were very busy in the opening stages.
Trinity’s frontwomen Sara McGeough and Claire Nolan came closest, spurning two good chances. Nolan, in particular, looked dangerous, but failed to break the deadlock.
At the other end, some excellent interventions from centre-back Kylie Lynch kept UCD at bay. Lynch, playing with the flu, has had an excellent season, and looked composed and commanding throughout a first half full of goal chances.
The intensity ratcheted up still further after the break, with both sets of players acutely aware of what was at stake. UCD’s dangerwoman Dearbhaile Beirne, a constant thorn in the side of the Trinity defence, was much quieter in the face of disciplined marking from DULAFC captain Aine Tucker. Tucker’s attention to her defensive responsibilities did negate Trinity’s threat on the right wing, in a big call from the Trinity management.
With tensions fraying, Katherine Baumann was the first in red and black to see yellow. Her partner in central midfield, fresher Niamh Kane, was arguably DULAFC’s best player. Elegant in possession, she was instrumental as her side grew in confidence, finding gaps and almost exploiting them. On the other side of things, she was ever-ready for a physical battle against a teak-tough UCD midfield.
DULAFC felt they should have had a penalty on the 70-minute mark, with winger Katherine Marsh tumbling in the box under pressure from a UCD defender. The referee disagreed, and play continued with the sides locked at 0-0.
It seemed at this point that extra-time was the most likely outcome from a game in which both sides declined to give an inch to the other. However, it was not to be, and Moore was the hero for UCD, wheeling away in celebration after claiming the all-important goal.
For Tucker and her teammates, the circumstances in which they eventually lost will have left them bitterly disappointed. When the dust settles, however, they can look back on a season of progress. They looked confident and competitive for most of the game, despite a lack of clinical finishing in front of goal, and will hope that Thursday’s final is not their last.
Correction: March 11th, 2018
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Katherine Marsh received a yellow card. In fact, it was Katherine Baumann.