The Ulyssean journey out to the lonely, windswept pitch glorified by the name of Glennane Park isn’t calculated to get a player’s head in the game. The warm-up shooting drill looked rusty, and it was with a hint of trepidation that the assembled spectators watched the still winless First XI get started. Captain Claire Hearnden urged her charges to get in the opposition’s faces, and “make them worried all match”, but in truth it was the Trinity side that looked cagey in the opening period.
Glennane created some early chances, and it took a couple of decent stops from Jess Elliott and good defensive work by Caroline Murphy to steady the ship. The real problems came when Trinity gained possession – at the risk of being over-analytical, it’s worth pointing out that they just couldn’t hold onto the ball, at least with any degree of consistency. Irene Gorman, leading the Trinity line, didn’t any service whatsoever until at least 20 minutes in. Glennane, meanwhile, were sniffing around on both the left and right flanks, and a disturbing amount of balls sailed right through the Trinity defence. They mainly ran dead, but this couldn’t last. After a collision between Murphy and Boyle in the circle almost allowed the home forwards to pounce, the next Glennane sortie lead to a short corner. A pass out to the right left the onrushing defence wrong-footed, and although Elliott got a foot to the intial shot, the following player had all the time in the world to bury the rebound deeper than a Mafia informer.
Maebh Horan sparked into life as Trinity went in search of an equaliser; a brace of dangerous runs left her in good positions, but the final ball went nowhere. No-one else was offering much, it must be said, and the Glens came back with a vengence. Caoimhe Costigan – who had a generally assured afternoon – broke up one raid down the left hand side after her defensive colleagues went to sleep, but nobody was awake to the resulting sideline ball, which sailed merrily into the circle and was deftly turned in by the reverse stick of a Glennane forward to leave Trinity two goals to the bad. It was rare that Trinity were able to move the ball out of defence with any conviction, with the midfield not making the necessary runs. Murphy and Buckley were forced to run the ball out on occasion – and to good effect – but it obviously wasn’t a tactic that could be relied upon to get regular ball to Gorman and Costigan, easily Trinity’s best players when they got a sniff of possession. With that outlet blocked, Glennane were able to turn the screw; a second short corner, awarded after prolonged period of pressure during which the Glennane forwards couldn’t decide which one of them would tuck the ball away, went in off Elliott to make it 3-0.
Whether that was enough for the Tallaght side, or whether Trinity finally decided to play, the line was drawn there. Horan reprised her role as chief creative officer with a wonderful ball in to Costigan, who played for the short corner, and got it. A powerful drive in took a weird and wonderful deflection, eventually trickling its way over the line. Costigan herself has the most likely claim to be the scorer, but we stand open to correction on that front.
Somebody up there was looking favourably on Trinity, at least; Elliott saved the next Glens short corner, and there was a just a hint of added composure on the ball. Enough, certainly, for Trinity win a short corner of their own. They made a horrible mess of it, granted, but as the teams separated for half time, the knowledge that a breakthrough was possible if they played their game must have been of some comfort to the students.
Hearnden came back on for Nadia Douglas after the break and led by example with a surging run in the opening seconds. This set the stage for a second act in which Trinity did all the performing, but were unable to set things to rights before the curtain fell. Chances came and went: first Costigan went within inches of getting on the end of a ricocheting Rachel Scott free into the circle, then O’Byrne flashed a dangerous cross across the face of goal. Gorman started to come into the game, but even her pace wasn’t enough and the vital score proved elusive.
With Glennane starting to get rattled (“RELAX, GLENS!!”) and time ebbed away, Mandy Holloway hurled her bench at the foe. Lucy Small showed some nice touches, linking up well with the tireless Costigan, but was just unable to find Hearndon unmarked in the circle late on. A robust defence Glennane defence, aided by just a touch of rough play, were able to contain the threat and didn’t really deserve to concede. By the time the UCD men’s team arrived at pitchside to wait for the next sceduled game, the urgency had faded; Hearnden’s short corner miss from another Costigan burst at the death had a feeling of inevitabiltity about it.
Six games, six defeats. At least it didn’t rain.