UCD 20 – 13 Dublin University: Killian Woods watched UCD put one over their rivals at the Belfield Bowl
AFTER LOSSES TO Old Belvedere and Clontarf in the first two games of the Leinster Senior League Cup pool stage, the grudge match against Dublin University was a nice way to bow out of the tournament with heads held high.
Both of these sides had little to play for but pride, and the intensity of a typical Colours match was conspicuously absent. The incapacity of both teams to show fluency in their game plans resulted in lack of discipline due to frustration.
UCD made the first breakthrough after retreiving a garryowen in midfield, with Trinity called up for handling in the ruck, and the resulting penalty calmly dispatched by UCD out-half Niall Earls.
Trinity hit back immediately though; a good move off a ruck between and neat link-up play put them over the line with the conversion following. The city centre side consistently passed the ball through the hands from one wing to another, but with handling errors restricting their flowing game, they never managed to make the final pass.
It was these errors that led to UCD’s first try, as an ability to keep the ball alive on the Trinity try line resulted in flanker Gavin Murphy touching down. The conversion was successful and put UCD ahead by 10-7.
UCD’s back line prevented the team from surging forward, and Earls was left with few options when looking to distribute the ball while his backs’ off-the-ball movement seemed non-existent. When Earls was forced to use the boot, however, his tactical kicking was effective.
UCD were put on the back foot at the start of the second half when substitute Ronan McCormack was binned for tackling in the air. To their credit, though, UCD continued to take the game to their visitors. Captain Matt Nagle soon broke through Trinity’s defence and surged past the 22, only to be turned over at the breakdown.
The fly-halves traded penalties throughout the second half until UCD made their clinical breakthrough in the last ten minutes. Adventurous play between UCD centres offered a platform for their forwards to barge over, with Gavin Murphy grabbing his second try of the day. The game ended on a sour note, however, when the touchjudge called the referee to cite UCD’s McCormack for punching, with the prop forward subsequently shown a red card.
After the bitter end to last season, culminating in UCD’s relegation from Division One of the AIB league, the club has seen some personnel and leadership changes. Last year’s charismatic captain Michael Hastings has moved on, as has talented centre Killian Lett. New captain, backrow forward Matt Nagle, hopes to lead his side to instant promotion back to Division One.
UCD: Michael Twomey, Peter Condon, Andy Cummiskey, Eoghan Conran, Tom Fletcher, Niall Earls, Rob Shanley, John A Lee, Gavin Telford, Brian Hall, Brian Crawley, Arthur Houlihan, Shane Grannell, Gavin Murphy, Matt Nagle (capt). Substitutes: Andy Pollard, Ronan McCormack, Wes Carter, Simon Gillespie, Joe McGinley