Hockey: UCD denied by dramatic late equaliser

UCD 3, Clontarf 3: The bottom placed two teams in the league faced off in Belfield last weekend, as Killian Woods watched on UCD’s Mens Hockey first team took on Clontarf at the National Hockey Stadium in Belfield last Saturday in closely contested match between two sides battling against relegation.The game was competitive from the start with UCD hoping to gain an early advantage over their visitors. Pressure in the opening minute put UCD in a good position to open the scoring through a penalty corner. The ball was quickly whisked out for John McInroy to fire home the students’ first goal of the afternoon.Some careless play in midfield, however, allowed Clontarf to create scoring opportunities of their own. Ben Grogan saved UCD from conceding an equaliser, clearing off the line as Clontarf started to step up their game.After eleven minutes the match was already becoming a scrappy affair. Clontarf were relying on the counter attack, while most of UCD’s play was focused up the left hand side with Grogan and David Quinn linking up well.IMG_7962 UCD couldn’t maintain their intensity, though, and Clontarf began to boss proceedings after twenty minutes when good one-touch play opened up UCD’s defence for the equaliser.Seven minutes after their equaliser, Clontarf took the lead following a goalmouth scramble. UCD’s goalkeeper Ross Gribbin saved an initial shot, only for a tap across goal from a Clontarf forward to be slotted in by his teammate.The second half started in the same manner as the first, with both teams hoping to take the initiative. Clontarf were indebted to their goalkeeper, who was the sole reason that UCD could not level the game: less than ten minutes into the second half, two close-range double saves had kept the Students at bay. The play at the start of the second half all belonged to UCD and in the 45th minute, John McInroy finally levelled for UCD, leaving the game delicately poised at 2-2.Illdiscipline on the Clontarf side was beginning to set in, as the home side were awarded another penalty free. From the resulting penalty, Clontarf had a player sent off for breaking the defensive line before the ball had been passed out.Clontarf appeared to be falling apart and from the retaken penalty, Ben Grogan gave UCD the lead for the second time. UCD now had control of the game and began to counterattack consistently as Clontarf pressed forward in search of an equaliser.The home side were effectively holding off their visitors, though, and looked to be on their way to a hard-earned win – but it was Clontarf who were to have the last say. UCD gave away a penalty corner in the last minute of the game and Clontarf spotted a chance to sneak away with a draw. After appearing to ruin their initial chance to score, the visitors slotted home to end the match on level terms.The draw was a fair result considering the varying spells of domination by both teams throughout the match. UCD would have benefited from taking all the points against their likely bottom of the table rivals this year, but now look likely to be involved in a lengthy scrap with their dogged visitors to avoid relegation this year.UCD: Ross Gribbin, Gavin O’Halloran, Hugh Butler, Ronan Flannery, Ben Grogan, Karl Smyth, John McInroy, David Quinn, Rob Lynch, Tim Hill, Jamie Tobin. Substitutes: Shane O’Donnell, Robbie McFarlane, John Brennan, Ronan Motyer, Tadhg Walsh Peelo