UCD 2, Fingal HC 1 – UCD’s men’s hockey team dominated large spells of their encounter against Fingal and ended deserving winners, writes Killian Woods
UCD men’s hockey team took on Fingal at the National Hockey Stadium in Belfield last Saturday, looking to extend their unbeaten run to three games. Taking on a Fingal side coming off the back of two successive losses, this was a good opportunity for College to push themselves above their opponents in the table with a win.
The home side opened the game in prudent fashion, fighting for possession in the middle of the pitch. UCD’s James McGann started the game lively and put his side in a good attacking position which frustratingly came to nothing.
As Fingal struggled to judge the pace of the game, UCD’s Karl Smyth carved open chances to send the play down the flanks, with interplay between himself and Tim Hill particularly promising. Only a lack of cutting edge in the final pass of College’s play prevented them from opening the scoring on numerous occasions.
The breakthrough eventually came for UCD on 17 minutes, after good play from David Quinn won a penalty corner. From this set piece, the ball was slid back to college attackers and John McInroy was set up to slot home and open the scoring.
UCD nearly extended their lead soon afterwards; McInroy again dispossessing a Fingal player in midfield and racing towards goal only to be closed down by the opposing keeper. This was one of a number of half-chances missed by UCD just before half time, which were to be punished just after the break.
Fingal scored very early in the second period through Tom Manning, to peg back the students at 1-1. However, this sparked the home side into playing more clinically in their build-up, and creating more chances.
Robbie McFarlane and John Brennan began to run at the Fingal defence with the ball and causing confusion in their backline, though UCD failed to convert their chances, with Quinn hitting a ferocious shot high and right while a last ditch block from Fingal stopped a certain goal elsewhere.
In the 50th minute, UCD stepped up a gear yet again and their pressure lead to two successive penalty strokes. After an initial block, the second attempt was slotted home by Tim Hill who gave UCD the lead for the second time.
UCD were now completely controlling the game and only for Quinn missing a gilt edge chance after McFarlane did well to keep the ball in play, did they fail to extend their lead.
The home team sensed that another goal could finish off a lacklustre Fingal side, and through McInroy, kept the pressure on the visitors right up until the last few minutes. However, with the last play of the game, Fingal won a penalty stroke, totally against the run of play.
Thankfully, UCD keeper Ross Gribben did not let the pressure of dropping two points get to him, and saved Fingal’s last-minute effort, to see College extend their unbeaten run. UCD were deserved winners as the narrow scoreline somewhat flattered Fingal.
UCD: Ross Gribben, Hugh Butler, Tim Hill, Ronan Moryer, John McInroy, David Quinn, Ronan Flannery, Karl Smyth, Tadhg Walsh-Peelo, Ben Grogan, Jamie Tobin. Subs: John Brennan, Shane O’Donnell, Robbie McFarlane, James McGann, Rob Lynch