UCD Senior Footballers vice captain John Heslin believes the College go into Thursday’s Sigerson Cup quarter final away to DCU in a great position to upset the odds. The 21 year old Westmeath midfielder, in his first year back playing Sigerson Cup football following a stint in Australian Rules with Richmond Tigers, is relishing taking on the current holders. “I wouldn’t want to play anyone else. It’s over there, they will be favourites, and we’re going over to upset the odds. It’s great.”

UCD opened up their Sigerson campaign two weeks with a hard fought but comfortable 2-11 1-5 win over Trinity, while DCU were 1-14 0-8 victors over UL in a preliminary round clash before dispatching Queens 0-17 0-9 last week. Heslin is aware of the enormity of the challenge await the Belfield side against their great rivals, but isn’t perturbed by it. “If we work harder than them, that’s all there is to it at the end of the day. That’s what Sigerson is- you can talk tactics, but at the end of the day, it is a dogfight, especially such a rivalry as DCU and ourselves. And we know what we have to do differently to Queens in order to beat them.”

Donegal All Ireland winning captain Michael Murphy was a constant thorn in the Queens side last week, notching up 0-9 in total. Heslin speaks highly of Murphy’s undeniable talent but has faith in Dublin full back Rory O’Carroll to nullify his threat. “Full forward and full back is a key battle in any game. Michael Murphy is a savage player but Rory is one of the best full backs around so I’ve no doubt that Rory can do a job on Michael. But the lads around him will be helping and we’ll be putting pressure on further out the field.”

Coming into the fixture, both teams have fallen foul of the controversial new ruling from Croke Park that makes players ineligible for Sigerson if they are in their 3rd course in third level education. UCD with have to deputise for Armagh’s Kevin Dyas while DCU have lost out on the

services of 2012 All Star Cork midfielder Aidan Walsh and Donegal goalkeeper Michael Boyle. Heslin notes Dyas’ loss but feels UCD have strength in depth to overcome his absence. “Kev is a great player, but we have a very strong panel. We were able to manage without him against Trinity and have people to come in.”

Still eligible for U21 grade and currently on placement in Meath, Heslin has had a balancing act to perform of late. However, he is delighted to be back from Australia and playing well for the highflying Division 2 Allianz National League side- “There’s a great buzz around the panel at the moment, and we’ll aim for promotion. It’s tough balancing it and Sigerson, but I look forward to U21 as well. Anything can happen with it.”

When asked if the experience of being a professional athlete in Australia has brought him on as a footballer, Heslin is candid on the matter- “I’d say I’ve improved on the little things. Your fitness, weight training, not over training, small things like that. But I’ll let other people be the judge.”

UCD broke down Trinity in atrocious conditions two weeks ago when in the second half Ciaran Lenehan came to the fore at centre half back and Laois full forward pairing Paul Cahillane and Donie Kingston terrorised their South Dublin rivals inside. They will need a further improvement to dethrone Niall Moyna’s DCU side boasting the talents of Murphy, Paul Flynn and Dean Rock, but as Heslin continues his rise as an emerging star for college and county, Belfield may well have it in them to cause an upset.

UCD possible line up: E Keogh; J Hayes, R O’Carroll, M Furlong; L Keaney, C Lenehan, D Drake; J Heslin, C Dias; N Murray, P Cahillane, D Larkin; D Kingston, K McLoughlin, N Kilroy

 DCU possible line up: J Farrelly; W Lowry, J Cooper, C Daly; J McCarthy, J Brady, M Quinn; F O Curraoin, P O’Hanlon; P Flynn, M Murphy, A McFadden; D Rock, B Donnelly, P Ryan

-Conall Devlin