Big comebacks were the name of the game in men’s Leinster Division One as both UCD and Kilkenny fought back from big deficits to record wins over Dublin North and Avoca, respectively.
For the Belfielders, it went right down to a controversial penalty stroke in the last minute before they landed the knock-out blow in a 5-4 win.
Having played a great first half against Weston the previous weekend, UCD were by contrast slow to get out of the blocks and despite the majority of possession early on, they looked vulnerable on the counter.
These counter-attacks paid off as Dublin North forced the ball in from a well-worked break ending with a run along the baseline and a finish into the top-corner from Adrian Sweeney.
UCD continued to have plenty of ball with little penetration other than an Andrew Tutty drag flick, which was taken smartly off the line.
Again on the break, North drew a few smart saves from Max Maguire before Ryan West made it 2-0. UCD got one back from Dutch Erasmus student Joran Schulte from a corner but Sweeney managed to outwit Maguire and instantly restore the two goal cushion, making it 3-1 at half-time.
The students did not panic and the NSC hosts went long spells without touching the ball. A base line move with the finish from Andrew Meates on the P spot reduced the deficit.
The break-outs dried up somewhat and further UCD pressure paid off with Ziggy de Boe Agnew providing the finish from a second phase corner.
With the scores tied up at 3-3, the students stepped up a gear and Schulte banged in another drag flick for 4-3. North Dublin rallied and responded with a back post chip from West over the keeper after ping-pong inside the UCD circle.
With seven minutes left on the clock, the game was end-to-end with neither side settling for a draw. The defining moment came two minutes from time as an attempt from Meates hit a body on the way to the net.
The umpires had a long discussion as to whether the recovering keeper was sufficiently ready to be judged to be behind the defender but the stroke stood. David Nolan stood up and put the stroke away. UCD withstood an onslaught from North Dublin but stood firm to win 5-4.
The result keeps UCD within a point of Corinthian at the top of the table after the reds beat Dublin University 3-1, Ian Stewart scoring twice. YMCA are third as Grant Glutz scored another two goals in a 3-1 win over Rathgar.
Kilkenny, meanwhile, continued their rise up the ranks as they came back from a 2-0 half-time deficit for a 3-2 victory. Avoca went two up with Jonathan Elmes and Cian Funge finishing off, the first a roofed forehand deflection from turnover ball, the second following two first time touches in the circle.
Avoca had a great chance to increase their lead in the second half from a break from a Kilkenny corner but the cats escaped. From there, Kilkenny managed to get on top and generated corners and endline circle entries.
Emmett Hughes started the comeback and Howard McDonnell levelled up, Max Neill then volleyed home the winner with some quick reactions, jumping highest to tip in after a Stefan Gallagher save.
Sean Cassidy’s hat trick helped Clontarf to a 6-0 win over Weston.
Leinster Division 1: Kilkenny 3 (E Hughes, H McDonnell, M Neill) Avoca 2 (J Elmes, C Funge); Corinthian 3 (I Stewart 2, J Bruton) Dublin University 1 (R O’Hanlon); Rathgar 1 (S Gould) YMCA 3 (G Glutz 2, S Hyland); Weston 0 Clontarf 6 (S Cassidy 3, K Murray, A O’Malley, M Fulham); Dublin North 4 (R West 2, A Sweeney 2) UCD 5 (J Schulte 2, D Nolan, Z de Boe Agnew, A Meates)