St. Clare’s played host to a seven-goal thriller last Wednesday afternoon as DCU beat their Dublin rivals Trinity College 4-13 to 3-08. TCD produced a plucky performance but ultimately were no match for the home side.
DCU got off to a flyer and it looked as if a rout was on the cards after 10 minutes as the home side built up an early 1-05 to 0-0 lead. Cormac Diamond opened the scoring with a close-range point and Colm Campion added to the lead a minute later. DCU looked completely dominant when Daniel Smyth was put through by Conor McHugh and buried his left-footed drive into the bottom corner for the opening goal after four minutes. Points followed from Laois inter-county star Colm Begley, McHugh and Campion as DCU appeared firmly in control.
TCD got their first score through a Luke Turley free after 12 minutes but DCU’s defence were dealing with everything thrown at them. Centre-back Pete Downey was dominating the half-back line as TCD struggled to break through. Diamond was putting in an impressive performance and he replied to TCD’s first score with a well-struck free before Smyth added another.
It looked like damage limitation for TCD as they packed up the middle third of the pitch, playing with a one-man full-forward line. It was then something of a surprise when wing-back Cormac Noonan sprinted forward and was put through to rifle home right-footed for the visitors after 28 minutes. Begley replied with a fantastic score for DCU, curling one over from all of 35 metres.
The sides went in at the break with DCU leading by five points, 1-08 to 1-03. It was a scoreline that flattered TCD as DCU had dominated in all departments.
The home side picked up where they left off after the restart, as midfielder Peter O’Hanlon and wing-forward Fionn O’Shea tacked on two more points. DCU’s domination was reaping rewards and they looked to be pulling away, but TCD refused to lie down, firing three quick points in succession before adding a scrappy goal. A long hoofed ball into the square caused consternation and, after a number of ricochets, Turley picked up the ball and powered home from close range.
Those in attendance knew they were in for an exciting end to the match as one point separated the sides with 20 minutes remaining. DCU’s tireless midfielder O’Hanlon missed a straightforward free but atoned for his error just moments later, picking the ball up on the left wing and curling a shot over with his right boot. It looked an impossible angle but O’Hanlon produced a stunning effort.
After 51 minutes the referee was given his first major decision to make after DCU substitute Finbar Cregg was surrounded by three TCD defenders and went to ground. The referee awarded a penalty and classy corner-forward Smyth netted his second goal after he sent TCD keeper Ross O’Hanlon the wrong way.
At 2-12 to 2-06 TCD looked dead and buried, but with five minutes remaining they launched another assault on the DCU goal which reaped more rewards. It was a piece of individual brilliance from corner-forward Paul McFadden, whose slaloming run and dummy hop fooled the DCU defence. He laid the ball off to full-forward Turley who had the easiest of finishes, slapping into an empty net.
With three points between the teams, the next score was always going to prove crucial, and it came from an unlikely source. DCU wing-back Michael Quinn charged forward and exchanged passes with two teammates before he found himself with room to shoot. Quinn finished with aplomb and at 3-12 to 3-06 it was effectively game over with three minutes remaining. There was time for one more goal, however, as Cregg slotted into an empty net after a TCD defender was dispossessed attempting to carry the ball out of defence.
DCU forward McHugh felt the rain had a big part to play in this high-scoring affair: “The conditions made it a tough game and a bit of a struggle for both sides. We were just happy to come out on top in the end.”
McHugh also saluted TCD’s battling performance: “It was a hard fought win. Trinity really put it up to us in the second half.”
The victory was DCU’s second of the season after they overcame IT Blanchardstown in St. Brigid’s the week before.
DCU: J Farrelly, C Boyle, C Dunleavy, C Caffery, C Cannon, P Downey, M Quinn, P O’Hanlon, B Donnelly, F O’Shea, C Diamond, C Begley, D Smyth, C Campion, C McHugh
Trinity: R O’Hanlon, S Higgins, T Daly, M Clarke, K O’Donoghue, M O’Grady, C Noone, P O’Higgins, S Cunningham, J McFadden, T English, O Gallagher, P McFadden, L Turley, B Murray
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