Similarly to the famed Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cups for collegiate hurling and Gaelic football, “Ashbourne Weekend” (named for the trophy played for in the first division) will be played this year over the 11th and 12th of February, in the grounds of University College Dublin, Belfield. Trinity will be competing for the Cup of Division 2, the Purcell, after a series of hard-fought matches through the round-robin stage of Championship.
During the League games played between October and December, Trinity followed a clearly upward trajectory, with a tough defeat away to SETU Carlow opening the season. A hard-fought match against TUS Athlone followed, where improvements were visible across the pitch and a draw was earned. The League finished with a comprehensive victory away against DCU 2’s (St. Patrick’s), seeing the side safe from relegation and setting the team up well to step on for Championship.
The round-robin format of Championship meant all eight Division 2 teams were re-pooled into two groups of four, with Trinity drawn again with SETU Carlow and TUS Athlone, the only change consisting of UCC 2’s replacing DCU 2’s. Championship commenced with a challenging game away to UCC 2’s, with Trinity emerging with a deserved point from a draw after an intriguing battle.
The second game of Championship, a rematch against SETU Carlow, was played after Christmas, where the improvement from the start of the season was notable. College remained competitive for long periods of the game, and while the final result was a defeat, Trinity had significantly narrowed the gap between the two teams which had existed since the season opener back in October.
While two solid performances had been put down, it remained that Trinity had only one point on the board, meaning that heading into the final game of the round-robin, at home against TUS Athlone, it was definitively all to play for. A defeat would have sent Trinity into a relegation final, whereas a victory would have guaranteed the team a spot in Purcell weekend.
Fortunately, the side’s performance of the season ensued, and a one-point victory ushered Trinity into an All-Ireland semi-final. While exhibitionary games were put down all across the panel, particular commendation was unquestionably due to club Captain and goalkeeper, Claire McNamara, free-taker Aisling Prendergast and wing-backs Aoife Higgins and Aoife Mahon.
While reaching the weekend is an achievement of itself (testament to this is the fact that Trinity haven’t made it since the current fourth-year players were first-years on the panel), the team now unquestionably has its eyes set on going all the way.
“It’s great to get this far, of course it is, but we really want to put down a good performance on Saturday and make it to the finals on Sunday”, says McNamara. “There’s no point in patting ourselves on the back for only getting here, even though I’m massively proud of the girls for the season so far – I definitely think we have what it takes to win the Cup”.
The last time Trinity played in the weekend, they won Division 3 outright – the Fr. Meaghair Cup – to see promotion into Purcell. If victory was to go Trinity’s way this weekend, what would it mean for the trajectory of the Club?
“I think it’d be absolutely huge for us if we could win at the weekend, or even put in a big performance in the final”, continued McNamara. “If we do, it means we’re straight up to Ashbourne next year, but even if we don’t I could see us being in the mix in a few years’ time. Promotion up to Ashbourne (this year or in a few years) which would be incredible for the Club and even just the sport more widely around the university. It could mean more numbers joining the club, as well as young inter-county players being more drawn to putting Trinity down on their CAO if they see us as a competitive option to continue their careers in the sport.”
This positive attitude is a hallmark of Trinity’s five Gaelic games clubs, but particularly of the camogie. Known across campus for their welcoming attitude to players of all capabilities, exuberant attitude to social events and close-knit team, the squad has the foundations in place to go the distance, and the only question that remains is how the weekend will unfold for them.