Despite overturning an eight-point deficit in a valiant second-half comeback, Trinity’s hurlers fell to a heartbreaking 0-16 to 0-15 defeat in their first Fitzgibbon Cup tie against Maynooth yesterday in Santry.
Trinity were left to rue their ill-discipline, as Maynooth edged through in slippery conditions thanks in no small part to their clinical free-taking. Andrew Gaffney’s last-minute point from the dead ball secured the victory for the Kildare university.
Trinity started off the game on the front foot. After initially missing a 65 within the first minute, Tom Aherne duly dispatched a free won shortly afterwards to open the scoring.
After five minutes of play, Maynooth were also off the mark, with half-forward Gaffney slotting over a free of his own. Maynooth began to build momentum, and Gaffney had his second point of the afternoon soon after, when the referee awarded another free for travelling.
The tension between the two teams, typical of a championship match, was palpable. Trinity managed to level the scores after a great point from play from Andy Kavanagh, before another free from Gaffney re-established Maynooth’s lead on 14 minutes. Two points from Maynooth in the next two minutes – including another for Gaffney – stretched the lead to three.
Maynooth almost grabbed the first goal of the tie on 21 minutes, with Conor Brennan forcing a great diving save from Jack Banks in the Trinity goal.
Despite being behind, Trinity stayed in touch with the visitors. Scores from Maynooth’s Conor Skatelum and Conor Brown were answered by a point from Jack O’Neill in the Trinity half-forward line. O’Neill’s strike meant that just two points separated the sides after 26 minutes.
Trinity, however, began to lose discipline again as the game approached the midway point, and two more converted frees from Gaffney gave Maynooth a 0-9 to 0-5 lead going into the break.
The second half began at a frantic pace, with the teams grabbing two points each within the first three minutes. From here, Maynooth began to stretch their lead: scores from Skatelum and Gaffney helped the away side to a commanding seven-point lead with half an hour remaining.
After a scuffle that resulted in yellow cards for Trinity’s Aherne and Skatelum, Trinity seemed to realise it was now or never. Two rapid-fire 65s from Aherne sailed over, and the momentum began to swing in Trinity’s favour as the game headed into its final 10 minutes.
But with five points still between the sides, Trinity needed to dig deep. After a long-range point from Kavanagh on 52 minutes, coupled with another from Cian O’Sullivan two minutes later, the deficit had suddenly been reduced to a single score.
Maynooth simply couldn’t get their hands on the sliothar: the visitors could only watch as a couple of points from Aherne brought the deficit down to a point. And on 59 minutes, Trinity won a free that Aherne slotted over to level proceedings and complete an improbable comeback.
But for the hosts it simply wasn’t meant to be. Right at the death the referee awarded Maynooth a free that many in red and black felt was a soft one. In response to this dissent, the referee moved the set piece closer to goal and Gaffney made no mistake, consigning Trinity to the most unfortunate of defeats.
Despite a bitterly disappointing first-round defeat, Trinity can hold their heads high after showing incredible grit to bring the game back level after seemingly being down for the count. They be looking to bounce back with a win in their next Fitzgibbon Cup outing against University of Limerick (UL) next Sunday.
Trinity: Jack Banks, Michael Conroy, Luke Corcoran, Paddy Skelly, James Kenny, Donnacha Ryan, David Phelan, Andy Kavanagh, Johnny Walsh, Jack O’Neill, Cian O’Sullivan, Cian McCarthy, Aidan O’Riain, Donnacha Butler, Tom Aherne.
Maynooth: Seán Buggy, DD Keogh, Cormac Byrne, Daniel Comerford, Jack Cullen, Eoin Molloy, Cathal Moloney, Robbie Buckley, Eoghan Ahearn, Conor Skatelum, Conor Brown, Andrew Gaffney, Conor Drennan, Seán Clerkin, Jack Buggy.