Leinster men’s Division One – day one round-up
Clontarf player-coach Gareth Borland struck late to nab a big three points for the Bulls against Avoca on day one of Leinster men’s Division One in what is anticipated to be one of the tussles for a top five spot.
It earned a 2-1 win at Newpark at the death. Both sides started nervously with precious little rhythm but, as time wore on, Tarf started to create a few chances which Stefan Gallagher did well to keep out, denying both Mullins brothers and Tom Noonan.
Avoca went ahead from a corner via Richard Couse at the second attempt after the initial effort was half-blocked and saved onto the bar by Stephen Cairns. The second corner was again met by the first runner but this time looped into the top corner of the net.
Clontarf levelled by half-time, however, as an excellent John Mullins baseline run was volleyed in by Kevin Mullins at the back post via a Noonan deflection.
Avoca had the better of large periods of the second half as Clontarf faced 22 minutes worth of suspensions for indiscipline. Cairns made an heroic save scrambling across his line to deny a potential tap-in.
Both sides struggled to stop their corners at the top of the D but Clontarf eventually got one to stick from the second phase as Kevin Mullins fed Luke Hayden who managed to pull back for Borland on the penalty spot. He swivelled and lifted over the grounded Gallagher to claim the goal and the points.
On a sweltering day in Dublin 15, Kilkenny took the laurels from the first ever senior league game to be played at the National Sports Campus with a 4-3 result against Fingal.
The cats raced out of the blocks with Eoin Finnegan playing in David McClure on the right who beat a couple of defenders before sliding the ball to Reuben Holden to slam home for a fifth minute lead.
From there, Fingal were on top for large parts of the first half before finally getting a deserved equaliser in the run up to half time through a Shane Dempsey corner deflection.
At half time, Fingal must have thought they’d regret allowing their penalty corner dominance go largely to waste, but this was not to be the case, as within five minutes of the restart, they were 3-1 up.
The first was from David Wheeler whose early strike caught George Smyth off guard and it was followed swiftly by a John Brogan goal who found the bottom right corner with a strike from the left side of the D. Kilkenny were living on the edge as Fingal pushed hard for a fourth.
It wasn’t to be though. The turning point came when Rob Morris made a diving interception he had no right to, starting a counter attack that led to a penalty corner – Kilkenny’s first of the half.
Tom Fee got down well to save a direct strike from Richie Dore before the ball broke to McClure to finish via a body on the line. The tide had turned dramatically at this stage with Kilkenny dominating, and Dore made no mistake when the ball broke to him in the D as he found the bottom corner with a crisp strike in off the post to tie up the game at 3-3.
This game was set up for a moment of brilliance to win it and it arrived via the stick of McClure who found himself on the ball but isolated up front.
He turned the Fingal defence, beating them confidently with his trademark skill before slamming in on his reverse leaving Fee with no chance. Kilkenny finished the game on top forcing Fee into a couple of great saves before the final whistle with the points in the bag.
YMCA and Corinthian showed their higher level experience against the two sides promoted from Division 3 over the summer, beating Weston and Dublin University 8-0 and 4-0, respectively.
Rathgar and UCD, meanwhile, shared a 0-0 draw at High School.
Men’s Leinster Division One: Weston 0 YMCA 8 (B Campbell 2, P Powderly 2, E Prehn, G de Grandis, T Ritchie, A Buckley); Corinthian 4 (D Howard 2, J Roberts, I Stewart) Dublin University 0; Fingal 3 (S Dempsey, D Wheeler, J Brogan) Kilkenny 4 (D McClure 2, R Holden, R Dore); Rathgar 0 UCD 0; Avoca 1 (R Couse) Clontarf 2 (K Mullins, G Borland)