Dublin University Hockey Club (DUHC) were outplayed by a skillful Portrane side in Santry Avenue this Saturday, losing by three goals to one.
Trinity have yet to record a win in Leinster Division One, having lost their previous two matches – including a demoralising nine goal defeat against Avoca Hockey Club last weekend – so Saturday felt like a must-win game to jump start their season.
Trinity’s defensive performance looked tidier as they prevented Portrane from creating any tangible opportunities early on. They controlled the early passages of the game: putting the pressure on Portrane, maintaining possession with crisp passes and making runs down the line. Despite their dominance, DUHC struggled to finish chances as they neared their opponent’s penalty circle.
In the second quarter, DUHC were lucky not to concede. Portrane struck on the counter-attack, moving the ball up to Sean Graham. The Portrane attacker took too much time on the ball, however, and fired a powerful reverse shot over the Trinity goal.
DUHC recovered from this goal scare, and enjoyed their own period of pressure. Tom Cole burst into the penalty circle after a run down the Portrane flank, and won a short corner. The ball was passed out to Calum Morrow, but his low drag flick was well saved by goalkeeper Derek Ledwidge.
Trinity’s hard work was undone when they conceded immediately after the half-time break. Trinity’s Daniel O’Donovan beat two men dishing the ball off to Patrick Temperley, but hesitation on the ball allowed Portane’s Chris Neville to nick back possession. Trinity were left vulnerable in defense, and Neville found Graham up the pitch, who calmly dispatched the ball into the back of the Trinity net.
With plenty of time still on the clock, Trinity pushed for an equaliser. Momentum shifted in Trinity’s favour, when the referee showed Portrane’s Udhamjeet Singh a yellow for an overly aggressive tackle.
And Trinity’s persistence paid off. O’Donovan snuck along the base-line with the ball, and flicked it to Harry Williams, who slotted home to level the tie.
Trinity’s resurgence was short-lived, however, and moments after Trinity had equalised, Portrane punished another defensive lapse, adding a second to their tally. Portrane’s Muktar Ahmed provided the assist, storming into the penalty circle along the baseline before slapping the ball across goal to Stephen Rogan who stroked it in.
Trinity upped their intensity, looking to respond rapidly, but there was a sense of desperation about their play, which did not bode well. Impatient tackles yielded a number of frees to Portrane. In the fourth quarter, after an aggressive stick tackle by Liam Bean, the referee stopped the game momentarily, warning both sides over indiscipline.
Towards the end of the final quarter, Portrane moved in to kill off the tie. The ball was pushed out to Neville, who slyly skimmed it to the left where Imran Khan stood unmarked. Khan composed himself before striking hard, his shot sailing into the goal and rattling the board.
Trinity refused to throw in the towel, and continued to search for a way back into the game. They forced a short corner in the dying moments after a tussle in the Portrane penalty circle. The ball fell to Morrow, who attempted a drag flick into the bottom corner. Ledwidge saved what was Trinity’s final opportunity, and the whistle blew shortly after the move, consigning Trinity to their third defeat of the season.
Despite putting in their best performance of the season thus far, DUHC will rue missed chances against Portrane. Another defeat will not help morale.
Nevertheless, the Leinster League season is still young – Trinity will have the chance to get back on track when they face Dublin North next Saturday.