THE highlight of the Third Level football calendar takes place at Frank Cooke Park, Dublin, tomorrow when DCU meet Dublin IT in the Umbro CUFL Premier Division Cup final.
Neither of these two Dublin institutions has captured the trophy before so a new name will be etched on the cup regardless of who comes out on top at the Tolka Rovers home (7.30pm).
The First Division and Second Division Finals take place earlier in the day at Leixlip United FC.
Having led his side to the same stage in 2010 only to lose to a last minute winner by UCD, DIT boss Tony O’Connor is hopeful that his side can go one step further this time around.
“It’s great to be back at the final two years after the disappointment of the UCD defeat and once you get to that stage of the competition all you can hope for is that the lads perform to their capabilities,” said O’Connor.
“This year’s final is a little later than usual and with the Airtricity League starting there are a lot of demands on the players so I would like to extend my appreciation to the clubs for understanding that this is a major final for our lads.”
DIT beat DCU in the group stages when they needed the three points to reach the knockout stages while DCU had already secured their place in the next round.
“DCU definitely went down the more difficult side of the draw having to go to Letterkenny and get a result there then overcoming IT Carlow in the semi-finals,” said O’Connor.
“I’ve a lot of time for their manager Declan Roche as we’ve known each other since schoolboy football so we’ve a lot of respect for what they’ve done over at DCU.”
Former Celtic and Ireland U21 midfielder Roche has been delighted with how his side has performed this year.
“In fairness I don’t think my lads really understand how big an achievement it has been for them to get through to this final,” said Roche.
“IT Carlow proved how good they were by capturing the CFAI Cup last week so we should be proud of what we did in holding out for a tight victory in the semi-final.
“DIT have a great pedigree in colleges football and have a lot of Airtricity League players and top Leinster Senior League guys to call upon so we’ll be the underdogs but it should make for a good game.”
DCU’s squad includes Longford Town’s Michael Isichei, Stephen Traynor of Bohemians and Robbie Gaul of Salthill Devon while DIT include Shelbourne’s Jack Memery, Bohemians defender Roberto Lopes, Bray Wanderers pair Paul Malone and Ryan Matthews and Athlone Town’s Jordon Conroy.
Wednesday, March 13:
UMBRO CUFL Division Two Final: Pearse College v IT Carlow ‘C’, Leixlip United FC (12 noon)
UMBRO CUFL Division One Final: IT Carlow ‘B’ v Sallynoggin College of FE, Leixlip United FC (2.30pm)
UMBRO CUFL Premier Division Final: DCU v DIT, Frank Cooke Park (7.30pm)