Both teams played their best rugby into the wind at a packed College Park Saturday.
Trinity started the game at a high tempo, and looked very accomplished when they kicked a penalty after some heavy pressure in the Garryowen half.
Garryowen came back well and dominated the next 40 minutes, as they seemed to out physical the Students at the breakdown. Added to this the hosts lost their influential scrum half Angus Lloyd in 15 minutes, this was followed by losing out half Mark Nicholson with a dislocated shoulder just a few minutes later.
The combination of Garryowen’s efficient play and the obvious disarray in the home ranks did not look good for Trinity. The Limerick outfit was extremely clinical as their scrum half Jamie Glynn set up two tries around the fringes. They then scored out wide when they outflanked the home defence for a well-taken try. 21-6 up and with the wind at their backs Garryowen must have felt like the game was theirs for the taking.
In the second half the visitors continued to dominate the collisions. But slowly the Students began to come back into the game, with new combinations all over the field they began to gel, 15 minutes into the second half they gained a line out near the line, and drove the massive Garryowen pack over their line, no mean feat when you looked at the comparative sizes of the respective packs.
Trinity took confidence in this and then stepped up their intent and tempo, Garryowen began to look fatigued and after an amazing 25 phases Captain and centre Paddy Lavelle put right wing in for a sensational team try. Suddenly at 21-16 College Park came alive! The students began to run everything. Five minutes from Full time, starting Full back Conor Kearns playing at out half stepped inside two defenders sprinted 30 metres before putting his old school buddy from Glenstal Abbey Tom Ryan in by the posts 23-21 to the students. The most unlikely comeback looked complete, but Trinity went into defensive mode and crucially decided to keep ball dangerously in their own half. After the seventh recycle the referee penalised them for ‘hanging on’ in the tackle. Jamie Galvin the Garryowen out half stepped up to nail the high pressure kick from 35 metres out. Game over?
Not with this Trinity team, on the last play with the home crowd incredulous at what they had just witnessed, Trinity won the ball when under pressure Garryowen kicked out on the full. Trinity went through ten phases to get the ball under the posts; they probably rushed the final act, and Garryowen whose defensive line speed possibly aided with a rolling start (!) got up to charge down Conor Kearns back in the pocket to kick the winning score. Narrow margins indeed.
This loss with four games to go does not mean it is over for the students; they are now 5 points behind Garryowen in second place. They need to keep winning and the other three teams (Galwegians, Garryowen and Ballymena) at the top all have to play each other there for obviously dropping points.
Trinity now faces what is always a tough challenge, Shannon in Limerick next week.
Trinity team; 15 Conor Kearns, 14 Tim Maupin, 13 Michael Courtney, 12 Paddy Lavelle, 11 Jack Fitzpatick, 10 Mark Nicholson (Ruadhan Magee 25), 9 Angus Lloyd (Brian Slater 15), 1 George Walsh (Andy Keating 30), 2 Richard Halpin, 3 Tom Collis (James Bollard 65), 4 Pierce Dargan, 5 Jack Burke, 6 Nick McCarthy, 7 Paddy Finlay (Jack Hennessy 60), 8 Tom Ryan.
On Sunday the Trinity Premier U20s received a forfeit from injury ravaged Barnhall.
Trinity U20s Pennant faced top of the league Old Wesley, in what was a highly entertaining game on the new plastic in Donnybrook. Trinity continued their recent form to surprisingly knock off the well-drilled Old Wesley team 37-32. Unfortunately unlike last year there are no play offs for this league. Trinity who took fourth last season but won the league play offs, now finish in third place. They do have the Purcell Cup to look forward too.
Trinity Senior Metro 9 team (Senior 4ths) won 39-10 in Santry, completing the double over BGF Ravens (Unidare).