UCD’s success serves to highlight plight of old rivals Trinity
Trinity languish in bottom of Division Two while UCD enjoy life in Division One
UCD’s Shane O’Donoghue makes a break as Mark Willis tries to defend for Belfast Harlequins during the Irish Senior Cup match at Deramore Park. Photograph: Inpho
Trinity (Dublin University) are languishing at the bottom of the Leinster’s senior league Division Two. It’s not a place most of the graduates that played in the Coulson Cup at College Park would have had experience of when they came through the gates in the 1950s through to the 1990s.
In the ’80s at least playing on the grass in front of the Pavillion often saved Trinity from some heavy whippings as gravel then was the modern surface of choice and grass a tricky surface. But not anymore.
While college teams suffer from a large turnover year to year, to see the successful UCD lording it up in Division One and just losing out to Lisnagarvey 2-1 last weekend for a place in the quarter-final of the Irish Senior Cup serves only to show the chasm in hockey standards between the universities.
One of the stand out reasons for that is the scholarship system working in UCD, where the scholarship and scientific backup means the quality of player now attending the college is much higher than in all other Irish third-level institutions.
With eight players on elite scholarships and three full international players available to UCD, Trinity has nothing to compare in hockey terms and little to attract top end athletes.
The other factor is club identity appears to have been somewhat eroded. College Park was always the home ground as well as being one of the best grass pitches in the country. Santry is unloved by students – and by all accounts unplayable too. Three Rock Rovers in Rathfarnham remains the home ground. For most teams residence in another club’s ground can work but Trinity need a vibrant and welcoming place of their own.
This weekend the senior team faces Monkstown in Rathdown, while UCD play YMCA in Belfield before driving to Kilkenny for a Leinster Senior Cup match on Sunday. Three points so far makes the students vulnerable. Maybe it’s time for the college to address one of its longest established sports or soon it may be too late.
FIXTURES – Saturday: Leinster Senior League - Division One: Rathgar v Fingal , The High School, 12:30 ; Glenanne v Corinthians , Glenanne Park, 1:05; Railway Union v Monkstown, Park Avenue, 3:0; Three Rock Rovers v Pembroke Wanderers, at Grange Road Ratharnham, 3:05; UCD v YMCA, Belfield UCD, 4:15; Division Two: Suttonians v Clontarf , Sutton Park , 12:30 ; Kilkenny v Weston, Kilkenny College, 1:05; Avoca v Three Rock Rovers 2, Newpark Sports Centre, 1:05 PM ; Monkstown 2 v Dublin University, Rathdown School, 1:15; Pembroke Wanderers 2 v YMCA 2, Serpentine Avenue, 2:0;
Sunday – Mills Cup (all 1.0): Corinthians v Pembroke Wanderers, St Columbas College; Glenanne v Three Rock Rovers, St Marks School Tallaght; Kilkenny v UCD, Kilkenny College.