Not for the first time this season, a feverish finish left the hearts of Dublin University Hockey Club (DUHC) supporters pounding. However, on this occasion, on a miserable afternoon in Santry, the home side showed the steel required to struggle over the line to an impressive victory over title hopefuls YMCA.
A cagey opening saw YMCA dominant in possession and straining a Trinity defence that had leaked a concerning 10 goals in the side’s previous two fixtures. Goalkeeper Hugh Lavery was mostly well protected while conjuring the saves needed when YMCA managed to free themselves to threaten the goal.
DUHC’s players, however, were not without their own opportunities, with the ball shifted quickly through midfield on a number of occasions in an attempt to catch the visitors cold on the counter. Ever-dangerous, frontman Cillian Hynes went close on a number of occasions but ultimately failed to break the deadlock in what was proving to be an anxious encounter.
Trinity continued to soak up pressure into half time, showing the sort of defensive solidity so desperately needed to compete with title-challenging outfits such as YMCA. For their part, the visitors had previously gone undefeated since mid-October.
The second half was a more balanced contest as DUHC wrestled back a measure of control and possession. However, 15 minutes into the second period a YMCA short corner was deflected towards the goalmouth. Trinity defenders scrambled to close off the route to goal, but the ball evaded everyone and dribbled along the slick surface and finally over the goal line to make it 0-1 to the visitors.
Such a hard-fought goal often spurs a favoured side such as YMCA on to dominate a match’s conclusion, but it was Trinity who returned galvanised. The team immediately struck back with a goal of their own. Newcomer Harry Craig showed great skill along the end line before squaring the ball to Eric Prehn who slid home to equalise and set up a frenetic climax.
As both sides pressed for a winner, the game began to stretch with more space opening up for both sides. Then, with five minutes to spare, Hynes, so often DUHC’s sharpest weapon this season, stepped up. As the ball broke, the forward pushed a half-volley on the reverse beyond the YMCA goalkeeper to shove the home side into an unlikely lead.
As the game drew to a close, Lavery was to be tested in goal once more as a series of YMCA shots peppered the Trinity net. Yet Lavery proved the difference in the closing moments, sealing a remarkable turnaround.
Such an upset might prove crucial for DUHC and ends a six-game period without a win in Division One of the Leinster Men’s League. Coach Nasir Munir Chaudry will hope yesterday’s display is a sign of good things to come from a young side that is evidently maturing rapidly. For YMCA, however, it was a damaging result and dealt a blow to the side’s bid for silverware. Kilkenny are the next team up for Trinity’s players, who will look to build on this win towards the end of the season.