A late comeback was not enough for Dublin University FC (DUFC), who kicked off their All-Ireland League campaign today with a loss at home to University College Cork (UCC). A torrential and consistent downpour left loyal supporters truly soaked on a thoroughly miserable afternoon on the rugby pitch.
It was the visitors who scored first, courtesy of a penalty kick. Trinity had the chance to level the proceedings but fly-half Michael O’Kennedy’s attempt went wide, left of the posts. UCC had the first real attacking chance with a line break 12 minutes in, but a knock-on curtailed the attack. Trinity were soon penalised for not releasing and the visitors increased their lead to 6-0.
Shortly afterwards, UCC scored the first try of the contest, after a period of sustained pressure in Trinity’s 22 saw them cross over the whitewash in the corner. They made no errors adding the extras, making the margin 13-0 to the away team with 20 minutes on the clock. A few minutes later, the hosts managed to open their account courtesy of an O’Kennedy penalty.
A promising attack from a rolling maul was scuttled due to a knock-on as the handling errors began to rise. UCC were able to clear their lines as their defence forced Trinity to make mistakes as they struggled with the visitors’ line speed.
Eventually, DUFC were able to steady the ship and their attack plan began to take shape as they laid siege to the visitors’ 22. The home side’s dominance in territory began to pay dividends with chances just before half-time. Consistent infringements from UCC in their own 22 saw them earn a sin bin and Trinity scored their first try from hooker Donnacha Mescal off a rolling maul. The conversion saw the side break for half-time three points down at the interval.
Despite having the one man advantage, Trinity were unable to capitalise as the UCC scored again in the corner barely a minute into the second half. After regaining their man, UCC scored again after miscommunication at the breakdown saw their winger scarper down the sideline before touching down. Despite missing one of the conversions, the visitors increased their lead to 15 points, winning 22-10.
Trinity were able to reduce the margin with another O’Kennedy penalty, but time was not on their side. The wet weather soon increased to biblical proportions as chances to mount a comeback looked slim, with the ball beginning to behave like a bar of soap.
Despite this, a break from winger Hugh Twomey began a promising attacking phase. Great communication amongst Trinity’s back-row helped move the ball out wide at the breakdown and centre James Moriarty touched down under the posts. The flames of a comeback were on the cards with five minutes remaining in the contest.
With the margin reduced to five points, the noise erupted from the vocal home crowd, even in the torrential conditions. A pressure kick from substitute full-back, James Fennelly, saw the visitors knock the ball into touch for a Trinity line-out just outside UCC’s 22. Communication breakdown cost DUFC again and UCC were able to clear their lines.
DUFC’s pressure all came to nought as a knock-on in midfield sucked whatever tempo out of the game. Taking advantage of an exhausted home side, UCC broke away to score in the corner with less than a minute remaining, putting the margin out of reach for the home side.
DUFC will look to bounce back away to rivals University College Dublin next week.