DCU capture fifth Yoplait O'Connor Cup crown with impressive victory

Yoplait O’Connor Cup

DCU Dóchas Éireann  3-14

University of Limerick 1-13

by Ivan Smyth

Kate Kenny kicked 1-10 as DCU were crowned Yoplait O’Connor Cup champions for the first time since 2018.

DCU ended UL’s hopes of three Yoplait O’Connor Cup triumphs in a row as Kenny inspired her charges to victory at the University of Galway Connacht GAA Air Dome.

The first half saw DCU start at an electrifying pace as Kenny saw a long range effort fly in to the roof of the net after just 25 seconds to give her side the perfect start. Kenny tagged on two further frees and a score from play to give DCU a 1-3 to no score lead after six minutes.

Siofra O’Shea got UL off the mark with a placed ball to get the defending Yoplait O’Connor Cup champions off the mark. O’Shea then played Deirbhile Beirne through on goal and although the Leitrim woman’s shot was bravely blocked by Robyn Murray, Aoife Hurley was on hand to palm to the net.

Two Kenny frees moved DCU 1-5 to 1-1 in front but the champions hit back as Beirne, Nicola Ward, O’Shea (two) and Ciara Needham  — playing against her sister Tara — all found the target to move the Limerick college in front.

DCU showed their mettle by responding in this fast paced game. Leah Fox, who scored a hat-trick of goals their semi-final win over TU Dublin, found the target before Chloe Darby and Tara Needham also registered key scores.

UL hit back with an O’Shea free but it was DCU who led 1-8 to 1-7 at half time.

DCU produced a ferocious second half display as after Orla Nevin and Kenny slotted over, the latter produced a terrific ball over the top for Tara Needham to poke to the net. Aoife O’Rourke and O’Shea hit back for UL but DCU struck another blow when Ciara Banville finished to the net after Needham was initially denied.

UL to their credit continued to battle away as they cut the gap to six on two separate occasions but two outstanding efforts from Kenny gave DCU the victory despite Erone Fitzpatrick’s late score.

This is DCU’s fifth title and one they will savour after a tremendous team display saw them crowned Yoplait O’Connor Cup champions for 2023.

Scorers – DCU: K Kenny 1-10 (0-6f), T Needham 1-1, C Banville 1-0, C Darby, L Fox, O Nevin 0-1 each.

UL S O’Shea 0-6 (5f), A Hurley 1-0, D Beirne 0-2, N Ward, C Needham, E Fitzpatrick, S Cunney, A O’Rourke 0-1 each

DCU: R Murray, C Dunne, L Lenehan, C Charters, R Ennis, R Sargeant, O Nevin, A R Kennedy, C Darby, C Lohan, M Reilly, C Finnegan, T Needham, K Kenny, L Fox. Subs: C Banville for Finnegan (24), E Morrissey for Fox (35), J Duffy for Darby (40), A Rattigan for Needham (52), A Farrell for Reilly (54).

UL: M Bolger, D Kiniry, L Spillane, S Ní Chonaill, A Molloy, N Ward, E O’Shea, C Needham, A Reidy, N O’Connor, D Beirne, E Fitzpatrick, A Hurley, S O’Shea, A O’Rourke. Subs: Z Fay for Spillane (17), A Sexton for Hurley (ht), S Cunney for O’Rourke (41), C Murray for Reidy (48), E Murphy for O’Connor (49).

Referee: Gus Chapman (Sligo).

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