After a disappointing championship campaign last year, Trinity Ladies GAA has begun the 14/15 season with an intensity enviable of any top-class college team. Two out of three league wins so far have placed the senior team in a league semi-final against I.T. Tralee in Tipperary today. The second team has seen some outstanding performances but unfortunately is not in a position to claim some silverware, though it no doubt will bring the experience gained from these encounters into Donaghy Cup preparations.
But the outlook is promising for Ladies GAA as they attempt to make their mark on the college football scene and hopefully qualify for a spot in the Giles Cup. This year brings an injection of enthusiasm in the form of the newly-appointed managers, brothers Davy and Jonathan Burke, current members of the Dublin Ladies’ senior management team. The team has also seen a great bunch of over 60 freshers sign up this year and retained most of the old dedicated faces – which is always a positive sign. It says levels of commitment and dedication are at a new high for the club with large numbers attending training in Clan Na Gael Fontenoy two nights a week and multiple morning sessions at 7.15am in the college gym.
The first game of the year on 16th October saw Trinity ladies take on St. Patrick’s College on their home ground in Drumcondra. The St. Pat’s side was not up to the intensity of the TCD girls and they secured an easy win with a final score of 6-14 to 0-04. A solid defensive effort kept the teachers almost scoreless. This was built upon with some wonderful movements by the forwards creating plenty of scoring opportunities An impressive 3-3 haul from Aisling Reynolds had a huge impact on the scoreboard. Nicole Owens slotted a hat-trick of goals showing why she was player of the year for the Dublin U21 side this year. Adding to that, a solid display from Ailbhe Finnerty claimed her Player of the Match through a host of scoring opportunities and tough off the ball work. The outcome of the game gave the girls much to work on and the confidence to build on the win as they faced UUJ the following week.
After a debacle with regards time and venue, the TCD and UUJ sides eventually played in Jordanstown home turf on November 3rd. Travelling long distances before a game is never easy with heavy Belfast traffic increasing the time spent on the bus but in the early stages it was clear this had no effect. An impressive 1-01 – 0-00 lead after two minutes gave the girls a great giant head start. Again, Trinity Ladies’ intensity was well above what UUJ expected and the slightly unstructured UUJ side lost out on a final score of Trinity 9-15 UUJ 3-5. Strong efforts from Meabh Downing on the half forward line and impressive fielding from Sarah McCaffrey added to the Trinity side’s hold on midfield, and Aisling Byrne impressed with her ease and comfort between the posts with reliable kickouts and confident saves. A brilliant performance from free taker Nicole Owens contributed 4-6 to the girl’s final tally. Michelle Peel also displayed outstanding composure at centre back which deservedly earned her player of the match. Mid-way through the second half saw a revival from the UUJ side. They launched an attack gaining them three goals. However, it was too little too late for the UUJ girls. This flash of potential would caution against writing them off as a championship threat though.
The following Wednesday, 6th November, saw the girls take on NUI Maynooth, in Clan Na Gael Fontenoy, Ringsend. Despite having played only two days before, the girls showed no sign of faltering in their determination, and were missing several players from the previous Monday’s panel. Having led 4-6 to 2-3 at half-time, the girls were narrowly defeated by two points on a scoreline of 6-8 to 5-9. Monday’s effort caught up on the team and they struggled to keep out three late goals from NUIM. The loss left TCD with plenty of work to do and corrections to make.
But the team are in a good position heading into today’s semi-final and will seek to take it a step further after losing to a strong Carlow IT side in last year’s league semi-final where Carlow clawed back to secure a five point win. The other side sees the unbeaten Maynooth take on Mary Immaculate College, Giles Cup 2014 champions. The games are likely to be exciting encounters with top-class displays.
Several key players are yet to return to playing with Trinity, notably Petra McCafferty who is heading into an All-Ireland Club semi-final with her Donegal home club, Termon. The team is also looking forward to the return of Kerry ace Sinead O’ Sullivan, a postgraduate student, after her time spent working abroad.
But the club is growing again this year with commendable efforts from all the players, committee, and management and, of course, with the continued support from DUCAC. The team has gone from strength to strength in recent years and so far this year has shown no sign of slowing down.