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DHFC’s dream start to the season continues in their home opener

By Jake Gilchrist - 18th Feb 2024

DHFC
A first goal of the season for John Cosgrove was buried in the bottom corner

DHFC – 3

SVS FC – 0

Trinity Iveagh Grounds, Crumlin

Wednesday 20 September 2023

There was a tangible excitement in the air as the players of Dublin Hospitals FC (DHFC) marched out onto the field at Trinity Iveagh Grounds, the venue that will become the team’s home turf for the next year. After back-to-back wins to open their campaign in the 2023-24 Leinster Senior League (LSL) Major Saturday 1B, DHFC rightfully had every belief that they could make it three wins from three on the night of their home opener. The opposition was SVS FC, a team recently formed out of a merger between Shankill, Valeview, and Shanganagh.

Opening

The game started nicely for DHFC, with players making full use of the freshly watered grass to zip the ball around. The early possession led to the opening chance of the match developing, with patient play that started at the back finding its way through to midfield and onto the feet of Rory Durand. Unopposed and 30 yards from goal, his speculative effort was on target, but the SVS FC keeper was equal to it and made a fine save to start his evening. This was quickly followed up by a second stop that kept his team from falling behind early. This time a shot from Niall O’Gorman bounced off defenders before eventually finding itself into the keeper’s grateful clutches.

Third time was to be the charm for DHFC, however. A series of corners had the away team camped in their own half. A headed clearance fell to new signing Damien Connaughton, who weaved his way down the right-wing before launching a floated cross-back into the box. Moments of chaos then followed, with the ball pinballing around the box before eventually falling to Durand on the edge of the area. A second bite at the cherry for Durand gave the keeper no chance this time, as he swept his effort home to make it a 1-0 lead.

The game started nicely for DHFC,
with players making full use of the freshly
watered grass to zip the ball around

Scrappy

As if by clockwork,  the heavens opened up as the game restarted. The sudden downpour made the next 20 minutes of play a tough watch for the few supporters that were scattered around the pitch. Crisp passing turned into a series of scrappy interchanges from both sides that largely failed to progress beyond midfield. Whilst the rain may have impacted the composure of passing, neither side could be faulted for their effort, with crunching tackles still flying in from all angles.

DHFC’s resolute defense has been evident in their opening games, having conceded only two goals in their first two matches. The centre-back pairing of Colm Kirby and Evan Preston-Kelly were once again making their presence known, with SVS FC unable to break through the high line they set.

A final chance of the half fell to the home side. Last season’s top scorer David Gildea showed his quality with some excellent hold-up play with his back to goal. This allowed the attacking trio of Ger Cheeves, Fionn Nally, and O’Gorman to flood forward. A smart, free-flowing move was eventually recycled back to John Cosgrove, and his curling effort was met in equal measure by SVS FC’s goalkeeper, who at the half-time whistle had almost single-handedly kept them in the game.


Damien Connaughton played his part in two of DHFC’s goals

Second-half

With rain still falling, the second-half started in a similar ilk to how the first-half ended. Miscued passes and a slippery surface meant both sides struggled to get a figurative and literal foothold in the game. However, 10 minutes into the second-half DHFC began to come alive again.

Nally, who was a bothersome presence all game for SVS FC down the left-wing, made a great run along the byline to meet a skiddy through ball. His cross was lifted to the back post, where second-half substitute Jake Gilchrist was able to lay the ball back to Cosgrove who buried his shot in the bottom left-hand corner.

Despite finding themselves 2-0 down, SVS FC did not give in. The next 15 minutes were their best, as they developed consistent momentum and pressure. Varied passing led to a flurry of crosses that could’ve easily found their way onto the head of a charging attacker were it not for the interventions of Kirby and Preston-Kelly. Goalkeeper and former players’ player of the season Paul Schutze was also on hand to make a number of great saves to keep DHFC’s hopes of a first clean sheet of the season intact.

It was at this point that DHFC decided fresh legs were needed, with substitutes Dave Synnott, Robert Kelly, and Darren Roche all entering the game within quick succession. Their energy helped keep SVS FC at bay, and, following more neat interchanges between the DHFC midfield, the ball once again found itself out to right-back Connaughton. Beating two players, Connaughton’s whipped ball was too much for SVS FC’s goalkeeper, who had a moment to forget as he turned the ball into his own net.

At that point the game was all but over. A few further half-chances fell to both sides, but the last 10 minutes of the game passed unceremoniously. The final whistle blew, with DHFC sealing another win and a first clean sheet. Player of the match was awarded to Cian Ward, whose direct running and interplay with Nally on the left was a menace to SVS FC all evening.

The final whistle blew,
with DHFC sealing another win
and a first clean sheet

The result also made it three wins on the bounce to start the season for DHFC as they continued their fine form. With title ambitions beginning to enter players’ minds, they’ll hope to make Iveagh Grounds a fortress for themselves for the rest of the season.


Man-of-the-match Cian Ward was lively all through the game

Team: Paul Schutz, Damien Connaughton, Colm Kirby, Evan Preston-Kelly, Cian Ward, John Cosgrove, Rory Durand, Ger Cheevers, Niall O’Gorman, David Gildea, Fionn Nally.

Subs: Jake Gilchrist, Dave Synott, Robert Kelly, Darren Roche.

PS

DHFC would like to thank our wonderful sponsors MPS and Allergy Ireland who kindly provided match-day sponsorship for this game.

Go online to www.dublinhospitalsfc.com for all the latest DHFC news, records, results, and other features.

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