Recap: Trinity hurlers enjoy successful championship

Trinity Hurling’s Ryan Cup victory over QUB was the climax to a hard-found season beginning in late January.

sport1It was a momentous weekend for the Trinity College hurling team when they celebrated a historic victory over Queen’s University Belfast in the prestigious Ryan Cup on February 28th. For captain Jesse Kennedy, it was the culmination of five years of hard work, and he was delighted to lift the elusive trophy in front of the Gaelic Grounds crowd in Limerick.

It was a dominant championship campaign for Trinity, winning their four games by an average of 11 points, and, with a strong freshers’ contingent, the future looks strong for the team. Fittingly it was Queen’s, perhaps the team’s biggest rivals, who were vanquished in the final, and it was fitting too for Kennedy as his first game for the college was against the Belfast college all those years ago. All in all, it was a magical weekend for Trinity Hurling Club as they secured the Ryan Cup for the first time in their long history, and hope to build the success for the future.

Tallaght IT

The campaign started in earnest in late January on a snowy Tuesday in Tallaght as the team defeated Tallaght IT by a scoreline of 6-12 to 4-11 in a scoreline that flattered the opposition, Fresher Conor O’Carroll from Kilkenny showing signs of things to come by netting an excellent  2-4 from play.

The final group game was more of the same as the team sent Tralee IT packing in Ringsend by a scoreline of 6-15 to 0-9 in a very one-sided game. O’Carroll continued his amazing form with an astounding four-goal salvo that left the Kerry outfit with no chance. Notable other performances in the game came from Paul Coughlan who netted a superb solo effort, and Conor McDonnell from centre-back who marshalled his troops with his usual level-headedness.

St. Pat’s Thurles

And so, the team topped their group and would face St. Pat’s Thurles in Limerick on February 27th. Pat’s had given a weakened Trinity  team a trimming in the league, so vengeance was on its mind. Management team Eoin O’Leary, Brian Dervan and Paschal Conboy did a commendable job in keeping the team’s feet on the ground after their facile passage into the semis, and the team went out completely focussed on the job at hand.

Trinity started like a house on fire, with goal from Kerry import James O’Connor after great work from Dub Brian Fitzgerald giving them a six-point lead. Great second half performances from Collie O’Neill and Captain Kennedy led to the team running out 1-14 to 2-6 winners.

Comfortable win

And so all eyes turned to the final the next day, in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds. The weather was harsh, to say the least, with a gale force wind supplementing a driving rain that made hurling very difficult. Queen’s won the toss and elected to play with the wind, and led by three points at the break. Crucially, that man O’Carroll netted a super goal which kept Trinity in sight.

At half time, the dressing room was upbeat, and the team went out with fresh impetus and a wind at their backs. Quickly they established a huge lead, netting 11 points in a row. Contributions came from all parts of the field, with full-back Michael Doyle landing a huge free from his own half, half-back Coughlan popping up with a point, and midfielder Danny Sutcliffe scoring a crucial five points from play in a tour-de-force performance. Man of the match was Collie O’Neill, another fresher who no doubt will be a club stalwart for years to come.

So on to next year, and the club goes from strength to strength, establishing itself as one of the most successful teams on campus. The team owes it success to great management and leadership from within the team, a tight-knit group, and that made all the difference.

Photo, INPHO: Trinity College presentation to Trinity and Dublin hurler Danny Sutcliffe in January 2014.