After a tough preseason, the highly anticipated start to competitive matches came around on Saturday as UCC Men’s Hockey first team welcomed Ashton HC to the Mardyke for a Munster Division one clash. Returning coach Dave Egner & new manager Kay Gaffney had the team prepped and ready.
As the whistle blew to announce the matches tip-off, it also marked the start of the highly anticipated Munster First Division League. The first half was tough for the men in red as ,although dominant in possession, UCC never really found their stride whilst flirting with danger a couple times leaving Ashton players free to shoot. Luckily UCC’s newly recruited GK Conor Beck kept out any first half attempts and with UCC having their fair share of attacks too it finished nil all at the halfway mark.
UCC came out of the traps in the second half, building a few phases as they pinged the ball about the pitch transferring from side to side, shifting the Ashton defence. However, as UCC kept attacking, they left themselves vulnerable when Ashton countered leaving them into the circle to eventually beat our keeper, putting UCC on the back foot.
UCC showed great character as their heads never dropped in search of an equalizer, and then a potential winner. A nice flick from fresher Jack Marlborough put youngster Harry Deane in for a shot but unfortunately the former CofI man couldn’t find the target. Short corners started to come UCC’s way, and after wasting a couple, UCC finally got a breakthrough thanks to a one-two short corner between Irish U23 international Sam Grace and fellow Kilkenny man Eoin Finnegan lead to Grace firing the ball into the bottom corner, thus levelling the game.
While a few more chances were spoiled by both teams, the game finished in a one all draw. UCC will be disappointed with the outcome, as they were the dominant side for the match. Dave Egner will be preparing the squad for their next match, when UCC will welcome Cork Harlequins to the Mardyke in the Irish Hockey Trophy.
Overall UCC MHC will be slightly disappointed this weekend, as other results from the Men’s Hockey Club included the seconds team drawing 2-2 against Ashton HC with Jules Vermelle hitting both goals home for UCC. Despite the seconds going up a division from last year, they lead the whole match and will be disappointed they couldn’t seal the win. The new third’s team unfortunately lost away to Cork Harlequins. Despite putting up a serious battle, they lost the game in the second half, with Man of the Match going to UCC man Ciarán Murphy.
Following what was a difficult week however, the men’s first team were victorious in their most recent fixture, beating Cork Harlequins by a score of 3-2 in Mardyke. The 2nds team followed this up with an impressive 2-2 draw away to Midleton, while the 3rd team succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in Waterford.