On a balmy autumn night in Santry, Trinity’s Gaelic footballers opened their account in Division 2 of the men’s higher level football leagues with a dominant win over the Cadets. The game burst into life, with both teams stringing flowing moves together, transitioning the ball fluidly from end to end. Both rearguards were tampered with in the opening exchanges, with Trinity notably playing with discipline both in their defensive shape and in their tackling.
Once Trinity found their range after five minutes, through a lovely score from a plucky Fergal Quinn, they quickly set the tempo for the remainder of the game. The pitch’s carpet-like surface gave Trinity a canvas on which to play to their strengths. Trinity came in black and red waves, smothering any attempts by Cadets to fight back with a high-intensity engagement from within their 45. Cadets failed to register a shot until the 15th minute, a shot that was forced well wide by the heavy pressure placed on the kicker. After 20 minutes, Trinity were in full flow.
The ease with which Trinity were cutting through the Cadets was perhaps the root of their biggest fault in the first half. On multiple occasions Trinity were caught overworking the ball in the opposition half, leading to turnovers or shots from acute angles. Trinity were disallowed two goals in the first half for hand-passing the ball into the net and, at times, appeared to be searching for the perfect goal.
As the game neared half-time, there were signs that Trinity were beginning to take a more direct approach. The ball was being released quicker from midfield off the pendulum-like foot of Keelin Beirne into a hungry James Guinness. The tempo was being cranked up and Guinness was capitalising. His shoot-on-sight approach was devastating. During this period Trinity asserted their dominance on the scoreboard, with Matthew Shorthall coming from corner-back to finish off a move that saw the ball worked from goalkeeper Liam Brady’s hands through the lines to set up a close-range opportunity. The half finished with Trinity up 0-08 to 0-01.
The second half began much as the first had finished. Trinity were now playing at a fever pitch and began asking serious questions from throw in. Trinity’s diversity in attack was summed up by a score from Paul Lambert early on, which saw the ball brought into the corner before being worked back out to Lambert at the top of the D. With one look up to settle himself he blazed it high into the night sky, falling back down to earth to nestle atop the net
With the wind on Trinity’s backs their scoring zone was expanded, opening up pockets of space in behind the half-back line of the visitors. This space would be exploited for the remainder of the game. While the Cadets tried in vain to pressure Trinity in the middle of the pitch, they were beginning to leave further gaps in behind. Trinity’s running game attacked this space well and by the 50th minute Trinity poured through the expanding gaps in the opposition defence to score the goal they clearly craved.
The game was now reduced to an exhibition match. Trinity emptied the bench as the game wound down to a now-inevitable conclusion. Trinity, though, remained relentless, scoring a sublime second goal in which the ball wasn’t hopped or soloed once, from the halfway line to the moment it was palmed into the net.
It was in this period that Guinness truly put the game to rest scoring two goals and a flurry of points. Not to be outdone, Lambert notched a goal of his own, jinking inside to smash home what would be the final score of the game.
On a night where Trinity’s forwards shot the lights out it would be remiss not to mention the steely defensive performances of Mike Joyce in full-back and Liam Lundon in corner-back, both of whom cut out a number of testing balls in a game that was as much a test of concentration as physical exertion for the defence.
The result is Trinity football’s first win in a year, and will surely act as an impetus to push on for the remainder of the season. The game finished 5-13 to 0-02, a result that even in its commanding nature may not fully depict the level of dominance on show in Santry last night.