It has been many years since a Trinity Fresher’s soccer team have won a Harding Cup match and this fact didn’t change on a bitterly cold Friday afternoon in College Park, when they took on Dublin City University (DCU). The first half was a one-sided affair with DCU going up by three goals, two courtesy of Sean McCarthy, who was a constant thorn in DUAFC’s side. The third came from Cormac O’Brien before halftime.
Trinity’s fortunes did not improve after the break. Five minutes in DCU’s Jack O’Connor managed to control a long ball and casually side foot the finish past Trinity’s Michael Collins. Jack O’Connor would add another to his tally a minute later, the ball put on a tee by Jamie Lennon.
Trinity were playing for pride at this point and they did themselves justice, managing not to concede another goal for the rest of the game. Trinity’s Marc Doyle was a lively presence in midfield, distributing the ball well and keeping possession. Mustafa Kokurid also performed well when he was substituted on. Trinity never really threatened DCU and the game petered out with 25 minutes to go.
On the sideline there was talk of a better time for Trinity soccer. The 1967 Collingwood cup winners occupied a bench behind the Trinity goal, reminiscing on their historic win 50 years ago. They were the first Trinity team to win the Collingwood Cup – an all Ireland colleges cup – defeating Queen’s University Belfast 1-0 in the final.
The sense of nostalgia was palpable as the guests of honour discussed their past triumphs and gathered around the cup Trinity have lifted only twice – the second time being 1979. It was clear to see the excitement and passion for football was still in all the players. The men were joined by Terry McAuley – ex-director of sport in Trinity – who had played with many of the winners as a fresher in 1968. He showed this reporter a somewhat biased article – published in 1967 – documenting Trinity’s march to the final all of which had taken place in College Park. It was clearly a golden age for Trinity soccer.
After the game, the men sat in formation on a bench with the museum building in the background, shuffling about to try accommodate everyone. After another team photo, former captain Tom Nolan promptly got up and called for everyone to go to the Pav, an order which was happily accepted. Even after all this time the 1967 Collingwood cup team celebrate the end of a game the same way, with a pint in the Pav.
The current Trinity Fresher’s soccer team will now be competing for the Harding Plate and will be taking on the loser of Maynooth University and University College Cork in Santry Avenue at 11am on Saturday. Trinity will also be hosting the rest of the competition. The finals of the Harding Cup and Plate competition are to take place at 2pm and 11am respectively in College Park on Sunday.