“The team did what we asked them to do”, said coach Ronan Pelow after the final whistle, and if what the DUHC First XI had been asked to do was to give their opponents a painful lesson in how to play hockey, it was mission accomplished by half time.
NAVAN BADGERS 0
“The team did what we asked them to do”, said coach Ronan Pelow after the final whistle, and if what the DUHC First XI had been asked to do was to give their opponents a painful lesson in how to play hockey, it was mission accomplished by half time. Trinity’s first game in Division 2 saw the league debut of Junior Freshman Andy Gray. It was his more experienced colleagues who did the real damage, however – Barry Glavey in particular ran proceedings from midfield without appearing to break a sweat. Probably an unfair suggestion, as the result had as much to do with Trinity determination and skill as Navan incompetence. Chris Pillow showed the way scarcely two minutes in, when he picked up the ball in the circle to the left of the Navan goal. The two defenders in between him and goal didn’t prove much of a problem, and an emphatic finish got Trinity off to a perfect start.
The Badgers never really got into their stride. Their focus was on the right flank, but they reckoned without the speed of the home side’s counter-attack, which yielded a short corner after a Navan raid on the Trinity half broke down. A confident Glavey sent the ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.
It was becoming apparent that the beleaguered Badgers had no answer to the DUHC attack; the technical skills on display were all in green jerseys, with Ben Hewitt in particular showing some fabulously deft touches. Gray was coming more and more into the game, and showed why he had been catapulted into the team. After deflecting in a powerful Glavey shot for goal number three, the midfielder then turned provider; a neat inside pass by Stuart Cinnamond enabled a fast cross from Gray to find Pillow unmarked. His first finish was saved, but the big forward tucked away the rebound to effectively end the game as a contest.
The precautionary substitution of captain Orr didn’t do much to break the flow, with Trinity continuing to string passes together like pearls on a necklace. Aaron Jolley didn’t get his first touch until around fifteen minutes into the game, and wasn’t forced into a save until a rare Navan attack was rewarded with a short corner. The shot was straight at him, and as if to punish the Meath men for their temerity Trinity went on the rampage once again; good work from Gray and Hewitt won another short corner, and although the direct route was blocked, substitute Cian O’Reilly knocked in the rebound.
It’s a rare team that wouldn’t slack off a little with a five-goal cushion, and Navan were able to conjure up their first shot on goal from open play near the end of the half. Pelow, obviously conscious of the need to sharpen up his charges’ play for days when it might really matter, was bemoaning several wayward passes when the half time whistle blew.
There was no revolution in the second period, though, with Navan rarely offering anything constructive – indeed, they decided to up the aggression rather than the tempo, with several instances of unnecessarily dirty play sidling into their game. Trinity, in truth, weren’t above a few niggling fouls themselves. It took them a while to put the final gloss on the scoreline – O’Reilly miscued what should have been goal number six – but when they did break the second-half ice, it was with considerable style. Daire Coady trotted up from the defence to take another short corner. His low, hard and above all accurate shot signalled the resumption of normal service.
The Badgers did their best to stem the flow, applying a new goalkeeper as a makeshift tourniquet. The new arrival made several saves, but his most memorable contribution was to strike Gray in the face following an entanglement. The umpires failed to act, but Trinity had their revenge with two more goals. Cinnamond and Hewitt pounced in quick succession to ensure a democratic spread of laurels and a comprehensive victory.
In the light of an 8-0 win, Pelow’s post-match observation that Trinity hadn’t been up against the strongest opposition was probably redundant, even for someone as untutored in hockey as this reporter. The test now is surely consistency; another home game against Skerries this Saturday will show whether or not DUHC have the makings of promotion challengers.