The men’s First XI at least went out with a bang against Skerries, with one of the most spectacular implosions ever seen at Santry. Despite the scoreline, this was a match that DUHC really, really should have won.
Captain Jonny Orr, speaking before the game, had no doubts that Skerries would be a tougher sell than Navan the week before, and this prediction was borne out in an evenly balanced opening period. Stuart Cinnamond’s pace up front was the main source of joy for Trinity, complimented by another lively display by Andy Gray in midfield. The two combined to win an early short corner — Pelow’s howls of rage at the umpire’s initial hesitation possibly a factor — but Glavey failed to find the target, leaving rumours of a spectacular celebratory routine unconfirmed. Skerries, for their part, had a couple of chances down Ian Gorman’s wing, and another from a series of free strokes through the middle, but the centre backs were, for the time being, solid.
It was left to Trinity to start the goalfest, then: Gray mugged his opponent and passed forward for Cinnamond, who played for the short corner again, and got it. Glavey passed the conch this time around: a neat lay-off to Daire Coady allowed the defender to make it 1-0.
With Trinity starting to take a stranglehold on the game, it all seemed to be going to plan. Another passing move saw Cinnamond set up Gray for a chance he was unlucky to miss, and while Skerries had admirable individual skills they were unable to replicate Trinity’s team passing tactics.
They could, however, shut them down: the paradigm began to shift around the twenty minute mark. Aengus Stanley was caught in possession and allowed Skerries a toehold in the Trinity half. Jolley saved the resulting chance, and got down twice to block a short corner effort, but conceded a penalty stoke while using the back of his stick in the midst of another set of heroics. Remarkably, he kept out the penalty as well, so it was something of a sucker punch when Stanley again coughed up possession and Skerries kept their composure to equalise.
It was a mark of what an end-to-end game it had become that, while Jolley’s hand was still stinging from gloving away another Skerries chance, Trinity had taken the lead: Glavey’s long free in was improbably deflected into the net by Orr. No sooner had the cheers died down than Skerries had equalised, Ali McMahon pulling off a sublime reverse stick finish despite the attentions of Coady. A short corner for wayward Trinity feet followed, and this went straight in to make it 2-3. Slightly shell-shocked, Trinity stumbled towards halftime and had the good fortune to see one of the northsiders sent to the bin for a nasty trip.
Trinity took advantage in the early stages of the second half, creating a couple of opportunities which they were unable to convert; Hewitt took the ball away from Gray’s open side in the circle to miss one clear chance, and Coady could not find the net after a Glavey short corner had rebounded off a luckless defender’s hand. It was left to substitute Andrew Beverland to level matters, turning in a direct ball in from the ever-reliable Brian Cleere.
Once again the celebrations were cut short; Glavey uncharacteristically lost possession in midfield, and a chronically undermanned defence was breached with criminal ease. “Remember we’re f**king defenders” was the cry from a chastened back four.
Trinity pushed, and despite Glavey looking tired enjoyed most of the possession and territory for a time. Skerries continued to look dangerous on the break, but conceded yet again as a long-range Gorman effort came off Beverland and trickled in. At 4-4, it looked all to play for, but the defensive frailties hadn’t been resolved. Skerries came straight back and pulled ahead once more, McMahon’s shot looping over Jolley. Orr and Glavey lost their cool, and when Coady joined the back-chat brigade the umpire awarded a short corner, which was duly tucked away by Alan Early for 4-6. Their rhythm and composure completely shot, Trinity crumbled: Hewitt was the culprit this time as McMahon grabbed his fourth of the day. There’s a lot for Pelow & co. to work on, then, ahead of intervarsities in Kilkenny this week.