The first time John Divilly’s side had met since the quarter-final win, the six-day lay-off by no means a reward for a rare DCU scalp, more to do with his training philosophy.
Since the panel first assembled back in September, Divilly has called just two training sessions a week — Mondays and Wednesdays. There would be no early morning gatherings, no senseless running during the winter break, no gruelling gym programmes. Divilly’s thinking is measured, dictated by common sense. He does not flog third-level players four and five nights a week, nor does he attempt to pertain his own viewpoint is the correct one.
“Every manager is different and I am not saying my way works. I was with Maynooth for three seasons and while we reached the finals weekend we never won the competition. Take your own meaning from that,” he asserted.
“I want to keep the enjoyment in it. I don’t want them going for the gear bag every night of the week and getting fed up with football. There is no point running them into the ground when you have them, they are getting enough training elsewhere. All our trainings are purely football. Nothing more, nothing less. The lads are all on gym programmes with their respective inter-county teams, be it senior or U21, so there is no point us putting them on a second programme or adding to that, it just doesn’t make sense.”
UCD, Sigerson’s most decorated contender, haven’t reached the decider since 2003, their last success in 1996. Divilly, a former student, was one of the first three Gaelic footballers — with Trevor Giles and fellow Tribesman Derek Savage — to receive a third-level sports scholarship back in 1995. Such was the strength of the south Dublin side at the time though, neither Savage nor Divilly could garner a starting berth and yet two years later the pair played big roles in Galway’s All-Ireland final triumph.
“We had a phenomenal team. There was Mick O’Dowd [Meath] at centre-forward, Ciaran McManus [Offaly] at midfield, Anthony Finnerty [Mayo] and Joe Coyle [Monaghan]. The intensity was just as high back then, but the competition simply didn’t get the same coverage it does now. When I broke onto the team IT Tralee were really going strong with Seamus Moynihan and Pádraic Joyce, so that stopped us from adding to the success of 1996.”
As for bridging the gap this weekend? Injuries to captain John Heslin (hairline fracture) and Paul Mannion (hamstring) haven’t aided UCD’s cause and Divilly maintained they have been handed the toughest semi-final draw.
“UUJ are the only northern team left in the competition and will be gunning to put on a good show. We will leave Dublin Friday lunchtime, be there for quarter-past four with throw-in at half-five. If we win we will stay over that night, if not we will return to Dublin.”
Once more adopting a measured, rational approach.
Today’s semi-final: UCC v NUI Maynooth, (B Cassidy, Derry), 3.30pm; UUJ v UCD, (M Higgins, Fermanagh), 5.30pm.
Tomorrow’s final: NUI Maynooth/UCC v UUJ/UCD, Queens, The Dub (J McQuillan, Cavan), 6.45pm.
Today’s semi-final: St Patrick’s College Drumcondra v Dundalk IT, 12.30pm; Letterkenny IT v Liverpool Hope University, 2pm.
Tomorrow’s final: Liverpool Hope University/Letterkenny Institute of Technology v St Patrick’s College/Dundalk IT, 4.15pm.
Today’s semi-final: Royal College of Surgeons Ireland v Cavan Institute, 12.30pm; NW Regional College v GMIT Castlebar, 2pm.
Tomorrow’s final: RCSI/Cavan Institute v NW Regional College/GMIT, 3pm.
Corn Comhairle Ardoideachais
Today’s final: Westport CFE v Cadets, 2pm.