Dublin University Football Club (DUFC) Women were the recipients of a heavy defeat last night at the hands of rivals Dublin City University (DCU) in the SSI Student League. Played in glacial conditions in College Park, the game quickly became very one-sided, with Trinity unable to cope with the pace and directness of title-chasing DCU.
DCU’s players were in the ascendancy almost immediately from the first whistle, showing their mettle with some powerful running. Anna Doyle was one of a number of players bristling with menace, and almost touched down in the corner early on after a barnstorming run from midfield. A foot in touch put to a juddering stop her assault on the Trinity try-line on this occasion, but she would not be denied five minutes later. Seizing on an error in the Trinity pack, Doyle scooped up the loose ball, shrugging off a would-be tackler before jogging in under the posts. Winger Keeley Doonan converted with aplomb.
The strength and physical intensity of the visiting side demanded vigilance in defence from DUFC, and for the next five minutes they delivered. Indeed, it was a rare foray into opposition territory that proved their undoing, as a lightning-fast break from Mairead Hopkins caught the napping Trinity defence unaware. There seemed little cause for emergency when a Trinity lineout was turned over deep inside the DCU 22, but Hopkins clearly had other ideas. She demonstrated electric pace to leave the DUFC defensive line in tatters, making it to within five metres of the Trinity line before DUFC full-back Susanna Mollen finally halted her in her tracks.
It was only a temporary reprieve. Three quick passes out the hands and Doonan dived over the line to increase her points tally for the day. She swept over the easiest of conversions to consolidate the try.
The pattern for the game had been established, and it appeared DUFC’s players were powerless to alter it, unable or unwilling to forsake their commitment to a passing style of rugby despite the difficulty of the conditions and the stifling press of the DCU defence. This resulted in a third try for DCU soon after, with Doyle again the finisher.
There were three more tries for DCU before the break, as the gulf in class between the two sides on the night became increasingly apparent. Sporadic line-breaks from centre Niamh O’Kelly Lynch and captain Molly Boyne occasionally offered a brief reprieve to a beleaguered Trinity defence, but for the most part, the DCU onslaught continued unabated. Centre Emma Hooban notched a hat-trick of tries before the break to take the visitors’ first-half tally to six.
With the score reading 38–0, DUFC’s priority in the second half had to be damage limitation. However, the Trinity players stuck doggedly to their guns, refusing to be forced into kicking the ball away. By turns admirably courageous and frustratingly naive, it was, ultimately, academic, as the physicality of the DCU pack forced an increasingly besieged Trinity into a number of errors. These the visitors were only too happy to exploit, with Hooban the first to break the second half scoring duck after evading a number of despairing DUFC tacklers.
Trinity did show some fighting spirit, with Boyne in particular leading by example. Anna Harkin was also unfortunate to come up empty-handed after a clever line-break. Nevertheless, DCU still looked the more likely to score again, and this they duly did on the hour mark. A clever swing of the hips from out-half Niamh Griffin was enough to send a Trinity tackler the wrong way and give Griffin all the space she needed to break the line and crash over. Doyle and Doonan also scored again, before the referee’s whistle finally brought a disappointing night to an end.
Tonight’s result, coming as it did the week after a 52–0 rout by UCD, means DUFC have now been on the receiving end of two difficult losses in quick succession. Coach Joe Horan will have to quickly restore the morale of his charges as they seek to overturn an unfortunate recent run of results at inter-collegiate level and move off the bottom of the table.
Correction: 14:15, November 30th, 2017
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Niamh O’Kelly Lynch lined out last night at full-back. In fact, O’Kelly Lynch was playing at outside centre.