Dublin University Football Club (DUFC) made a disappointing start to their All-Ireland League campaign on Saturday afternoon in College Park, suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of Limerick-based team Garryowen FC.
Garryowen made the brighter start to the game, winning an early lineout and using quick hands to stretch the DUFC defensive line. Having worked the ball well to get it wide, a knock-on at the try line by Bryan Fitzgerald for Garryowen meant the Trinity team escaped unscathed from their early scare.
It wasn’t until the eighth minute that Garryowen managed to open the scoring with a collapsed scrum by Trinity leading to a penalty for Garryowen just in front of the halfway line. What seemed a tough kick on paper appeared routine for out-half Tony Butler as he converted the penalty from range, giving the away team a 3-0 lead.
The away team wasted little time and quickly had their second score and the first try of the match. An explosive burst of pace from Liam Coombes down the right wing opened up space for an exchange of passes with flanker Jack Daly, with the ball being calmly returned to Coombes to finish under the posts. Butler converted from close range and DUFC found themselves 10 points behind with a quarter of the game played.
DUFC had another scare straight from the restart, with Garryowen bringing the ball within five metres of the Trinity team’s try line, only for the chance to be squandered after the Garryowen forward was penalised for double movement after being tackled. However, it wasn’t long before their lead was extended after an impressive one-handed catch from Coombes allowed him to finish another try underneath the posts. Butler scored yet another conversion and DUFC were on the ropes, trailing 17-0 with only 30 minutes played.
As the first half wore on, Garryowen continued to find joy exploiting gaps in DUFC’s defensive line. Some good running and a fine offload by Jack Delaney allowed space for Jamie Heuston to finish in the corner. A missed conversion from a tough angle offered little solace to the Trinity team, who now trailed 22-0 with only minutes remaining in the first half.
Garryowen rounded off the first half with another excellent converted penalty from range, with DUFC’s Harry Sheridan being sent to the sin bin for the first 10 minutes of the second half after a late tackle on his opposite number.
DUFC began the second half in much better fashion than the first and made up some ground on the scoreboard within a minute of the half’s start. A clever lineout played short to Jamie Beresford caught Garryowen off guard, allowing the DUFC forward to finish in the corner and get some points on the board for the home team. Despite Mick O’Kennedy failing to convert from a tough angle, DUFC appeared to have some momentum to build off of for the second half.
After 60 minutes, however, Garryowen FC halted any hope of a comeback for the home side. Following some good passing off the back of a maul, Coombes broke through the tackle of his DUFC counterpart and laid it off to Fitzgerald who calmly finished under the post. Butler again converted, increasing Garryowen FC’s lead to 32-5.
DUFC managed to find a final consolation try late in the first half with Aran Egan executing a fantastic chip-and-chase and performing an acrobatic catch to keep the ball in by the touchline before finishing off in the corner. A missed conversion from a tough angle from O’Kennedy, followed by another converted penalty from Garryowen FC soon afterwards, meant that the final scoreline of 35-10 in favour of Garryowen FC offered a fair reflection of the performances of both sides.
Speaking to The University Times after the game, DUFC coach Tony Smeeth was both honest and critical of his team’s performance:
“It was men against boys really. We kind of lost it in the first ten minutes really. We just never came out of the gate you know? Since we played St Mary’s we’ve been playing well… But we really just didn’t fire, and I don’t know why. First game of the season you know, I just don’t understand why. It was a shocker, absolute shocker.”