by Ronan Nelson
COLLEGE PARK – Dublin University Football Club will take to the pitch in College Park tomorrow afternoon to play host to Garryowen in Round 14 of the Ulster Bank All Ireland League.
Trinity (8th AIL, 26 pts.) have had a difficult stretch of matches over the last five rounds, four of those five matches having been played against the league’s top four clubs.
“The league has broke into two sections, the top four and the bottom six,” remarked head coach Tony Smeeth during the week. “We have beaten everyone in the bottom six save UCD who we could have beaten on the day…We desperately need to win to get out of the relegation zone, but Garryowen will be thinking the same thing.”
Trinity’s chances of coming away with an win this Saturday rely on two key factors.
First off, DUFC needs to play into its up-tempo, quick-recycling offensive structure. After some success over the much larger Lansdowne forwards two weeks ago, the DUFC pack will now have an opportunity to compete against a closer-matched set of forwards. If they can win the ball at set pieces, then the 9-10 pairing of Brian Slater and Jack McDermott will have plenty of chances to have a go at Garryowen’s backline.
Secondly, Trinity will have to make the necessary tackles in open space to stop Garryowen’s runners. Tackling was sub-par against Lansdowne, but two weeks of preparation plays well into Trinity’s hands.
Saturday’s clash will be the fourth installment of what has become an exciting rivalry between the two clubs over the past three years.
During the 2014-15 AIL 1B season, Garryowen narrowly beat Trinity to deny the red and white’s promotion to Division 1A. Since then, however, Trinity has pulled ahead of the Munstermen having won two in a row. Tomorrow’s match in College Park will no doubt exhibit the ferocity of the rivalry the two sides have created.
“We have had a quite a rivalry with Garryowen over the past two years, we have played them three times and we are 2-1 in those games,” said Coach Smeeth. “We played them in November in Dooradoyle and won 27-14. They have had some impressive wins recently and have a few Munster contracted players.”
Looking at Trinity’s starting XV for tomorrow’s clash, Coach Smeeth has decided to make two changes to the side that played Lansdowne two weeks ago. Blackrock College man Bryan Mollen is set to replace Billy O’Hora on the left wing (#11), while Limerick-native Colm Hogan moves back to his regular spot at fullback to replace Micheal Silvester.
The only other change in the lineup comes in the forwards with Raef Tyrell and Pierce Dargan moving into the #5 and #6 jerseys, respectively. The two had previously traded positions for the matchup against Lansdowne.
DUFC’s push for a victory will no doubt be boosted by a victory over Argentinian touring side, Buenos Aires Hurling Club, last Friday night in College Park. Trinity fielded a side with plenty of youth against the Argentinians, putting on an impressive show before those in attendance.
Following the match, Coach Smeeth commented on how the match against Buenos Aires played positively in his team’s favor, responding, “We had a good win over touring team Buenos Aires Hurling Club. I was not sure playing a touring team in the middle of a tough sequence of games seemed the way to go, but on reflection I think it has put some distance between us and the Lansdowne game where we were poor on the day.”
Most importantly, the win over the Argentinian touring side will boost the spirits of a team going through a pretty rough stretch of matches.
“Rugby is about confidence,” said Smeeth, “and hopefully we got our ‘mojo back’ in that game against the Touring team.”
15 Colm Hogan, 14 Tim Maupin, 13 Michael Courtney, 12 Kyle Dixon, 11 Brian Mollen, 10 Jack McDermott, 9 Brian Slater, 1 Eric O’Sullivan, 2 Patrick Finlay, 3 Andy Keating, 4 Jack Burke, 5 Raef Tyrrell, 6 Pierce Dargan, 7 Dermot O’Flynn, 8 Tom Ryan.
16 Jack Boland, 17 Tom Collis, Cian O’Dwyer, 19 Rowan Osborne, 20 James Fennell
Trinity’s clash with Garryowen starts at 2:30 P.M. on the College Park rugby pitch. Come out and support the lads as they look to return to winning ways! If you can’t make it, stay up to date with the scores on D.U.F.C.’s Facebook and Twitter pages.