UCC Soccer back in action.
The Collingwood Cup is an amazing competition to be a part of. It’s an intense four days and anything can happen on the pitch. There are surprises and upsets every year. Every game is knockout so you only get one chance.
UCC were 2-0 down with 12 minutes left in the quarter final against NUI Maynooth. Everybody had written them off but they didn’t give up. They kept battling and got it to 2-2 and went on to win in a penalty shootout. That showed great character. It also showed the importance of the squad. There were five substitutions made and each one of them impacted the game and they all ended up taking a penalty in the shootout.
The semi-final against NUI Galway was a different sort of game. The weather conditions made it hard to play good football but the team battled hard from the first whistle. There were very few chances in the game but UCC managed to convert one of them in the 85th minute and hold on to win 1-0. This was another impressive display of character and gave the team confidence that they could go all the way.
In the final any team can win. When you put yourself in a final you know there’s good chance that you’ll be lifting the trophy. Three games in three days is tough in any sport but the adrenalin rush of being in a cup final gave the players an extra boost and UCC looked much stronger than Trinity from the start. All five substitutes were used in this game too; this reiterated the importance of having strength in depth.
Praise also has to be given to the management team, Noel Healy and Conor Uhl. They made sure the team was well organized for every game. It’s not easy to look after a group of 23 young men for four days but they made sure the team stayed in excellent facilities, eating well and doing everything right in between games. A lot of preparation went into each game with analysis of every player the opposition had. The team went into every game knowing exactly who they were up against. UCC also made the decision that any photos that were taken before kick-off should include the whole squad, not just the starting 11. UCC were the only team that did this. This made everybody involved feel like they were a part of this team and brought home how important it is to have a strong squad.
The players have been working hard all season with the coaches but also with the Strength and Conditioning coaches, using video analysis and working with Trevor Woods Exercise physiologist in UCC. Noel Healy, Conor Uhl and Mick Conroy use video analysis with the team which helps them shape there training sessions and has the players prepared the best they can be.
2015 is the twelfth time in history that UCC have won the Collingwood Cup but it is the first ever time that they have won the Collingwood Cup and the Harding Cup (The Freshers Intervarsity competition) in the same year. Seven first years were part of both squads, which is a record for any team. This shows how much work the college is doing to bring in young talented players and is also very promising for the future of the club. It is said that winning is a habit and those seven players have won every inter-varsity game they’ve played in and they’re going to be at UCC for at least three more years. UCC’s FAI development officer, Greg Yelverton, works hard to Identify and promote UCC Soccer Scholarships and the Player Development Programme with talented players in secondary schools to encourage them to come to UCC and be part of a great club. The trophies this year should help attract more of these young players and continue the team’s success.
UCC soccer club are back in action this weekend as they play in the Intermediate cup ¼ finals on Saturday March 7th against St Mochta’s at 2:30pm in the Farm Curraheen. This is the first time in the clubs History they have made this stage. They go again on Tuesday where they face a long journey to Wexford Youths in the EA Sports cup, this is the first year they are participating in this competition as the current champions of the Munster Senior League.
Rufus Holmes – PRO UCC Soccer Club.