In a Sunday afternoon JP Fanagan Division 1 match that saw most of its action in the first half, Dublin University Football Club (DUFC) Men under 20s impressed against Old Belvedere, displaying superior skill and capitalising on their opponent’s mistakes to claim a 25-17 victory away in Ballsbridge.
The first points of the match came almost immediately after Trinity’s kick-off, with a quick chase and strong pressure forcing Belvedere to concede the penalty in front of their posts due to a knock-on. David Fitzgibbon took his time and struck the ball cleanly to give DUFC an early three point lead.
Old Belvedere were quick to respond – a precise penalty kick found touch inches from DUFC’s tryline, creating an enticing try scoring opportunity. Following the lineout, the backs put on a highlight reel: Justin Leonard placed a perfect lateral kick to find winger Alister Loughrey, who snatched it out of the air before diving into the corner for the try. The conversion was missed, leaving the score at 5-3.
DUFC responded quickly. Full-back Luke McKay regained possession after the restart and made significant ground after a tremendous run. Following the ruck, Aaron Coleman passed it out to Fitzgibbon, who promptly offloaded to Jack Walsh. Walsh made the decisive pass to Andrew Hogan, who preceded to dance around a defender and breaking through, smoothly bringing it around behind the posts for a try.
After an easy conversion, DUFC took a 10-5 lead.
Refusing to get complacent, DUFC kept their foot on the pedal – they kept pressure on their opponents and maintained the intensity of their play. The Old Belvedere support were making their feelings known – hollers from the sideline protested that the DUFC defence was encroaching the home side’s offensive line.
The intensity paid off when DUFC forced a penalty. Opting to go for the try, they kicked it into touch to secure a lineout five yards from Old Belvedere’s line. A dogged effort followed, with forward Ted Walsh holding the ball and forcing through the defensive line. The ball just short of the tryline, Jack Walsh tried a pick-and-go in an effort to force the score. Ultimately it was hooker George Downing who picked it up and muscled his way across the line to nail down their second try.
DUFC continued applying the pressure, and the ball stayed contained within the Old Belvedere half. Taking advantage of their deflated opponents – who looked anxious for half-time to arrive – DUFC’s Gavin Jones flew past several missed tackles before passing it out to McKay. McKay made an astounding behind the back pass to winger Matthew Jungmann before being tackled. Jungmann finished the move, running in with ease for DUFC’s third try of the half.
When the second half got underway, DUFC – perhaps thinking their work had been done with a 22-5 lead – were caught in defence. Out of an Old Belvedere scrum near the 22, Karl Martin broke through the line before handing it off his back shoulder where Loughrey was there to finish the job. With the conversion accurate, ten points was now all that seperated the sides.
The match continued with neither side able to create opportunities on the attack. The next score only came after DUFC patiently went through phases in Old Belvedere’s 22 before the defending side conceded an absent-minded penalty. Wisely choosing to go for the points, Fitzgibbon kicked it over to extend DUFC’s lead.
Though still firmly in control of the match, DUFC were focused on stopping Old Belvedere’s efforts to mount a comeback. DUFC were fortunate that their opponents were over-anxious and making bad mistakes as a result. On one crucial occasion, a penalty was wasted after Martin kicked it too far beyond the Trinity tryline.
Old Belvedere managed to score one last try in the dying minutes of the match when Aron O’Neil intercepted a pass before handing it off to Loughrey. The latter ran half the length of the pitch to secure a try that, ultimately, was too little too late. On 80 minutes the referee blew the final whistle with the score at 25-17.
DUFC’s under-20s will be satisfied with the result – they now lie second, nine points behind leaders Lansdowne. Their next outing will be in College Park for the visit of Clontarf.