Dublin University Football Club (DUFC) under-20 men’s team fell to their first defeat of the season on Sunday, losing out to an inspired Clontarf Rugby Club outfit 28-22 in their JP Fanagan Premier 1 clash at Castle Avenue.
A hectic start to the match saw Trinity fly-half Cian Egenton open the scoring within the first minute, converting a penalty from inside the Clontarf half. Liam McMahon got the first try of the game soon after.
The tough angle was always going to make it difficult for Egenton to add the conversion, but an 8-0 lead three minutes in was by no means an unhealthy position for Trinity to find themselves in.
Clontarf looked for a response to Trinity’s early scores, and after a number of phases they earned themselves a penalty. The resulting lineout saw hooker Killian Hickey score off the accompanying maul and open the host’s account. Clontarf fly-half Tadgh Bird, whose kicking throughout the game was as consistent as it was excellent, converted from a very tight angle. The score stood at 8-7 with just 10 minutes gone.
Neither team was willing to relent after the blistering start to the tie. A couple of notable carries from Trinity’s Alex Soroka and Gavin Jones brought McMahon into the sort of range where he is so potent. Cutting in from the wing, he dodged opposition fullback Sam Barry with a quick drop of the shoulder, and touched down under the posts. Egenton added the extras from right in front of the posts, leaving the score at 15-7.
In what was to become a consistent theme of the game, Clontarf roared right back. Capitalising on a penalty given after a high tackle, they moved the play into the Trinity 22. In a similar fashion to their first score, another lineout, another try, and another conversion, allowed the hosts cut the gap to just one point once again.
With five minutes left in the first half, another run from McMahon created the space for centre Jack Walsh to crash over from short range. Egenton added the conversion, and at 22-14 Trinity looked set to see out the half.
The second half saw considerably less scoring action, even if its first five minutes suggested otherwise. Trinity fumbled the restart, and from the ensuing series of phases Clontarf won a penalty from a kickable position. Their decision to opt for the lineout at first appeared a bold one, but their faith in their barrelling forwards was rewarded as they went over again under the posts, the conversion pulling it back to 22-21.
While the home side hit straight back after conceding on several occasions, when the tables were turned, Trinity failed to do the same. Indeed, if anything, it was Clontarf who appeared the more likely to score after the try.
Not long after their third try, the hosts added seven more points, when Cailean Mulvaney’s deft offload unleashed winger Loughnane to run at the Trinity backline. Barry finished off the move, gliding past the stranded Luke McKay before diving over, putting Clontarf ahead for the first time in the match. Bird added the simple conversion to stretch the gap to six.
Trinity looked to mount a response, moving the play back into Clontarf territory. Despite pegging the hosts in their own 22 for much of the final 20 minutes, DUFC’s lack of a clinical edge meant that Clontarf held out to secure the 28-22 win.