A wintery evening in Santry was not enough to quench the thirst of the Trinity GAA Fresher Hurlers, which is still on track to win a historic two in a row All-Ireland League title after a sensational win over Queen’s University Belfast on Monday evening.
In a game that saw over 11 Trinity hurlers make their mark on the scoreboard, smart play and persistence saw the home side come out of the encounter victorious as Queen’s saw its league campaign unfortunately come to an end for the season.
Queen’s got off the mark from the throw-in, scoring the first point of the game and proving that the team was not making the long trek from Belfast to merely fulfil a fixture. This seemed to wake the Trinity team up, as Johnny Walsh opened the scoring for the home side with a great point from over the shoulder as he turned towards the goalmouth. It was the boys in red and black who rattled the net first courtesy of Davy Nash, who ended up taking the goalkeeper out of it as the ball was tapped over the line.
Once the scoring began, it was very hard to stop, with Walsh, Liam O’ Flynn and Éanna Mac Domhnaill all adding to the tally. A Queen’s puck out was swiftly dealt with by the Trinity defence, with Ger Dempsey breaking through numerous tackles before passing the ball off into the forwards, only to see the ball return to the Trinity defence and eventually go wide.
Queen’s dominance when it did gain possession was evident in the first half, along with intense pressure from the team’s backs, with numerous attempts by the Trinity attack go astray. But a brilliant overhead pass by Daniel Long to Mac Domhnaill who struck the ball into the square saw Eoin O’ Callaghan flick a scrappy ball up into his hand and drive it almost through the net to put his side further ahead once again.
Trinity kept pressing up the field, thanks to the backs constantly hassling their players and through a great passage of play from Luke Corcoran and Naoise Quinlivan, who drove the ball up the field in hope of a score. Trinity’s forwards worked tirelessly to produce those scores, with O’ Callaghan’s kicked effort trailing wide after a one-on-one encounter with the goalie. Cormac O Nualláin saw his name added to the scoreboard after receiving a solid pass from Nash to tap over a point. With the gap widening, Queen’s was determined to redeem themselves, with the team’s centre-forward gaining a rare chance, skipping passed the defence and drilling the ball past goalkeeper Kieran Kilbane. However, this small victory was soon forgotten about when Nash drew a penalty for Trinity, which saw Walsh slam the ball into the top corner of the net. Long added another goal just before the half-time whistle, but the scoreboard was not a clear reflection on the constant battling and clever play by both sides.
Even though Trinity led at half time by 4-10 to 1-3, the team’s hunger for more was clear from the first few seconds of the second half, with Kildare Minor O’Flynn bursting through multiple Queens’ players before getting a goal of his own. O’Callaghan followed shortly after with a sweet shot from a tight angle on his left. The ball then made its way back into the Trinity defence, with goalie Kilbane easily dealing with the threat and moving the ball off to the nearest available teammate. Substitute Nick Cody was keen to make an impression, sending a ball into the forwards that was received by Callaghan but ultimately driven wide.
Cody redeemed himself after stepping up to take a long distance free, which sailed high into the air and seems to be drifting wide. But the slightest touch from the outside post pinged the sliotar over the black spot. Queen’s began to drive on again, winning great frees before eventually getting a first score of the half. The team’s persistence in gaining frees to aid scoring chances saw Queen’s narrow the gap, but only ever so slightly.
With Cody scoring the final point in the game, it was Queen’s that unfortunately ended up on the wrong side of the scoreline with Trinity coming out victorious after a great contest. Hopes of regaining the league title won by the freshers team last season is well and truly alive as Trinity awaits the winners of the other semi-final on Thursday.