Trinity hurlers face elimination following defeat to IT Carlow

Despite an improved second-half performance, the deficit at the interval was too much for the home side to overcome

Trinity 1-08

IT Carlow 0-24

Trinity GAA’s senior hurlers had a night to forget on Thursday night, as they were well beaten in the Fitzgibbon Cup by IT Carlow at Santry. IT Carlow proved to be far more clinical in taking their chances and gave an exhibition in point taking against a Trinity outfit who saw nothing go right for them in the first half.

Trinity came into the game having won their first ever Fitzgibbon Cup game away to Garda College last weekend. IT Carlow were hoping to bounce back from their tight opening day defeat to Limerick IT. The visitors reached the semi-finals last year, and were favourites heading into the match in Santry.

The warning signs were there for the hosts in the early stages, as it was the visitors who had the first two chances, converting one of two to give them the lead after a minute into the contest. It wasn’t until the sixth minute that the home side got on the board due to a free taken by stalwart and captain Fionn Ó Ríain Broin, Trinity was certainly capable of stringing scoring opportunities together due to the hard graft of midfielder Jack O’Neill and corner forward John Walsh. What let them down was failing to take their scores, while IT Carlow took every opportunity that they had. An area where Trinity consistently struggled in the first half was under the high ball, where the hosts were able to control the pace of the game through their poaching of Trinity’s puck-outs.

It was not long before IT Carlow had built up a commanding lead as they lead by eight points by the 20th minute. A defining moment from the first half was when Trinity keeper Eoin Skelly had a puck-out intercepted and returned for a score to increase the visitors’ lead. A well-taken effort by Trinity’s Mark Corry, who somehow stayed on balance while close to the sideline on one leg, was just Trinity’s second score of the match twenty-two minutes in.

Not long after, the post saved Trinity from what would’ve been a contest-ending goal, after Eoin Skelly came off his line to chase the ball and was left in no-man’s-land. It was probably the one spot of luck for the hosts at that point and appeared to rally them towards the end of the half. Ó Ríain Broin scored from a free to finalise Trinity’s total for the half. As the referee blew for the interval, the scoreline made for grim reading for the hosts, as they trailed three points to 15.

Whatever Trinity manager Shane O’Brien had said to his team at half-time had certainly riled them up as they finally began to settle into the pace of the game, Barndarrig club man Andrew Kavanagh and the St Brigids duo of Jack O’Neill and Cian O’Sullivan were asking serious questions of the IT Carlow defence. O’Neill in particular consistently ran through the visitors’ defence and they had to resort to fouling him to stop him from causing any damage.

Trinity were given a serious opportunity to make a dent in the visitors lead when they were awarded a penalty on the 35th minute, but Ó Ríain Broin was unable to convert. IT Carlow’s 12 point lead allowed them to dial back their intensity in the second half, and Trinity were able to claw their way back into the contest. Some impressive link-up play between Donncha Butler and Cian O’Sullivan put the latter through who buried the sliotar into the top corner of the IT Carlow net from close range.

Despite their brave second half showing and a vocal home crowd, Trinity’s failure to make the most of their opportunities in the first half cost them dearly in the contest. IT Carlow were able to comfortably build up their breathing room by being patient with the ball and forcing the Trinity defenders to foul them within a scoring range, which allowed them to increase their advantage.

Speaking to Trinity News, Fionn Ó Ríain Broin expressed his disappointment that the team couldn’t build on their impressive showing against Garda College last week, and lamented their failure to match up against IT Carlow in the first-half. “Obviously we’re very disappointed, we hoped we would come out today and win to get to our first quarter-final, it’s very disappointing overall for a very good team, a very well-run team with some very good players.”

“We’ve been building ourselves up over the past couple of years, so it was great for us on the last day but, we’re a bit worn out”. The other game in Group B saw Limerick IT thrash Garda College 4-24 to 0-12. Trinity’s next match will be away to Limerick IT, where the quarter-finals may still be within their reach. However, they will need to win by 16 points and hope the Gardaí can do them a favour and beat IT Carlow.

Cian Mac Lochlainn

Cian Mac Lochlainn is an Economics and Politics student, and a Contributing Writer for Trinity News.