In what has been a good week for former Trinity players Jamie Heaslip, who was nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year and helped Ireland to defeat the All Blacks for the first time, and Niyi Adeolokun, who earned his first cap for Ireland against Canada, Dublin University Football Club (DUFC), Trinity’s rugby club, bounced back from last week’s defeat to Lansdowne with an emphatic away victory against Old Belvedere. Trinity managed to get a four-try bonus point which puts them third in Division 1A of the All-Ireland League (AIL) and back in the play-off position.
Belvedere got the better of the early exchanges and got over the line after seven minutes. However, the ball was held up and some determined defence from Trinity earned them a penalty, allowing them to clear their lines. From then on, the visitors began to dominate proceedings. After 15 minutes, DUFC were awarded a penalty 42 metres from the Belvedere posts. Under 20 out-half James Fennelly stepped up and slotted the kick to give his side a 3-0 lead. This was Fennelly’s AIL debut, coming for injured regulars Jack McDermott and Tommy Whittle. However, he looked like he had been playing in the team for years and gave an assured and mature performance, which included some deft passing and pinpoint accurate banana-kicks.
Belvedere centre Seán Coughlan was sent to the sin-bin after 19 minutes but it was not until minute 30 that Trinity finally got over the try line. Hooker Patrick Finlay bashed his way over from a few yards out. Fennelly easily slotted the conversion and DUFC were up 10-0. They were not content with this lead and just before half-time, they put some width on the ball before first year full back Jack Kelly showed strength and guile to go over in the left-hand corner. This time Fennelly was unable to slot the difficult conversion but the visiting side went into the halftime break with a 15-0 lead.
Belvedere, clearly unhappy with their display, began to attack in the second half but a huge hit from left winger Colm Hogan stemmed their flow and in-form centre Michael Courtney scooped up the dropped ball to race clear from 70 metres to loud cheers from the boisterous Trinity support. This conversion was far simpler for Fennelly who duly knocked it over to give the visitors a 22-0 lead. The large gap in the score-line allowed DUFC to play with more freedom but this also led to sloppiness. Scrum-half Daniel Joyce attempted what was potentially the most speculative drop-kick at goal Anglesea Road has ever seen. It did not end up anywhere near the posts. However, Trinity kept the pressure on.
The young side’s dominant scrum earned them a penalty which Fennelly kicked right into the corner. The maul from the resulting lineout ended up over the line but was held-up. Trinity then earned another scrum penalty and opted to attempt another push-over. On this occasion, the ball squirted out but was held onto by number eight, Tom Ryan. The backs then performed a switch-play and some lovely footwork from Colm Hogan put him over in the left corner and gave DUFC the four-try bonus point. Fennelly’s conversion was wide but with the score at 27-0 after 60 minutes, the win appeared to be secured.
Trinity began to take their foot off the gas at this point and the home side got themselves a consolation try on 73 minutes which left the final score at 27-7. This result was exactly what DUFC needed after last week’s very disappointing home loss to Lansdowne. It now puts them in a strong position in the league. Considering this is Trinity’s first season in Ireland’s top club league, it has been a very positive start to the campaign with five wins from seven. The team now look forward to a tough clash in College Park against last season’s beaten finalists, Cork Constitution, on November 26th.