Dublin University Hockey Club’s first pre-season test of 2008 was to face a young but talented Corinthian’s 2nd XI. It was the University’s first game under new coach, Ronan Pelow, and it was fitting to see his son, Chris, lining out against the students.
Dublin University Hockey Club’s first pre-season test of 2008 was to face a young but talented Corinthian’s 2nd XI. It was the University’s first game under new coach, Ronan Pelow, and it was fitting to see his son, Chris, lining out against the students. It was agreed upon by both teams that the match would take on a slightly unusual structure consisting of three periods, each lasting 25 minutes.
The students’ less than stellar commitment to pre-season training was evident in the first period, as Corinthians dominated possession and were visibly more organised. The students battled hard and enjoyed occasional spells of pressure on the opposition’s defence.
However, on more than one occasion Trinity lost possession with too many players committed forward and Corinthians looked dangerous on the counter-attack. Eventually the hosts found one of their forwards racing through on the Trinity goal. With two defenders giving chase, the Corinthians forward attempted to round stand-in goalie, Jack Hegarty, who slid low in an attempt to block the forward’s route to goal. With luck certainly against the debutant goalie, the ball ricocheted off a number of sticks and over him towards the right hand post. Characteristically, the students were slow to react and Glenn Holmes was gifted a tap-in at the back post.
It was not long until the disappointment of conceding the first goal was compounded by surrendering a second. A slick Corinthians passing move down the right hand side finished with a strong diagonal strike towards the flick spot. Ghosting in front of his marker, the Corinthians forward neatly deflected the ball over the on-rushing goalie and the ball found the far corner of the net.
After thoughtful words from Ronan and Terry at half-time, and after just 25 minutes experience playing together, Trinity began to show some of the potential they hope will gain them promotion to Division 1. Freshman Andrew Gray showed off his talents on the right-hand side while a fitter-looking Barry Glavey took control of the midfield area, transferring play intelligently. Brian Cleere continued to be a rock at left back and his encouragement and optimism began to transmit itself to the rest of the defence. Craig Moore enjoyed some joy on the left hand side, and it was his his forceful charge at the Corinthians backline that led to a breakdown in communication. Eventually the ball found its way to Cian O’Reilly, who calmly slid it past the Corinthians shot stopper.
With both sides tiring in the final period, chances on goal were few and far between, but a vital breakthrough came when Scott McKechnie was released down the right sideline. After a neat interplay amongst the Trinity forwards, the Corinthians goalie failed to deal with the strong final ball in, and when it bounced up in front of O’Reilly, he needed just one touch to claim his second goal and put Trinity level.
Corinthians responded well and, thanks to dubious umpiring from Mr. Orr, forced two short corners late in the game. Chris Pelow stepped up and drag-flicked high to Jack Hegarty’s right. Against all odds, the out of practice goalkeeper kept Trinity level with an instinctive save glancing the ball on to the crossbar. Minutes later Corinthians had another penalty-corner. Once again they put their faith in Pelow but the immense Hegarty was not to be beaten for a third time in his first game for DUHC’s 1st XI. This time he got down low to his right and deflected the ball wide of the goal, securing a 2-2 draw in DUHC’s opening game of the pre-season period.
All in all, it was an encouraging start to what will be a long and gruelling season. With players yet to return from the summer break, and available players still recovering from their commitment to ‘the gravy train’, the prospects for DUHC’s season appear promising.