Dublin Hospitals FC (Home) 2
Dublin Hospitals FC (Away) 2
Iveagh Grounds, Crumlin
Dublin Hospitals Charity Cup
For the Irish Wheelchair Association
Wednesday 11 January 2023
It was a wild Wednesday night in south Dublin as Dublin Hospitals FC (DHFC) hosted the first annual Charity Cup game to sponsor the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA). The IWA provides vital nationwide assistance and support to people in Ireland with physical disabilities. IWA assisted-living services, community centres, and other support services help people in our country to live active, equal, and independent lives. The organisation relies on donations and public support in order to continue to provide these services and to develop further ways of supporting those in need.
DHFC players past and present came together for this one-off fixture to compete for the Charity Cup and show their support for the IWA. Torrential rain and howling winds promptly determined the type of game that was to be played. The grass surface at the Iveagh Grounds is one of the most pristine in the city. Previously the home of St James’s Gate and one of the first League of Ireland stadiums, the Trinity College grounds people keep an immaculate pitch here; however, it will take some time to recover from the mud-bath of that Wednesday night. The downpour did not deter the club photographer, Rodney Smythe, who was present as always to document the epic proceedings.
With no sign of the weather abating, the football got underway. The away side of John Cosgrove’s team kicked off in all navy and Rory Durand’s home team in traditional DHFC home green jerseys provided their opposition. Despite the challenging conditions, the men in navy started the game quite well. A midfield combination of Gareth Cosgrove, Emmet O’Brien, and Edward Wrynn combined experience with composure and speed to gain control of the early exchanges. Gareth Cosgrove is a St Vincent’s Hospital FC veteran, a midfield general with composure, his ability to remain calm under pressure and consistently make the correct decisions allows those around him to thrive. Wrynn, playing in an unfamiliar number 10 role, and the lively Conor Vaughan profited most from the space created by the intelligent Cosgrove. It was Vaughan who caused early trouble down the right-wing with direct running at the midway point in the first-half, forcing a smart save from Mat Berkley in the home team’s goal. Vaughan was released by Cosgrove on numerous occasions in the first period and it seemed only a matter of time before the UCD medical student would find the back of the net. However, despite the direct running of Vaughan and the pace and trickery of the great Aidan McGrath, on the opposite wing, the away team were unable to break the deadlock. It is no mean task keeping McGrath quiet, so the home side’s back four and goalkeeper must be commended on their anticipation and resoluteness. McGrath is Dublin Hospitals all-time leading goalscorer, after all.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic, and with four Brians in the home team’s squad there was nearly always one involved in any positive exchanges. Brian Conlon and Gaffney in particular displayed a telepathic relationship at times, perhaps this is unsurprising given the Galway natives have played together from a young age. Conlon, playing at right-back, provided a number of crosses from overlapping runs, but the home front three of Gildea, Cheevers, and Trueick weren’t able to make any of them count in the first period.
With the scores tied at nil all, the half-time whistle was sounded.
A brief break saw three substitutions from each side, as reinforcements were enticed out of the comfort of the sheltered dugouts for the second-half. Off the bench came Ronan Murray, another Dublin Hospitals club legend. Murray’s goalscoring feats have only been bettered by McGrath; there are very few players who have been as reliable and consistent as the prolific number nine over the years. It came as no surprise to spectators that through the combination of Murray, McGrath, and the incoming John Cosgrove that the away team gained further control in the second-half. Paul Schütze, having replaced Berkley in goal at half-time, pulled off two magical saves in the second-half, first from a pile-driver from Cilian Grant that seemed destined for the top corner and the second a reaction save from a John Cosgrove strike from 18 yards. At times it seemed an unfair advantage to have the German shot-stopper on your side. No goalkeeper is unbeatable, however. With 20 minutes remaining, it came as no surprise it was that man Ronan Murray who broke the deadlock. In typical fashion, Murray was too strong for his marker as a McGrath cross was cut back from the right-wing. Murray rolled the helpless centre-half and neatly found the bottom corner from the penalty spot. It’s fair to say the two have a history. The combination of McGrath and Murray has been deadly for many years and one always seems to know where the other is without so much as a glance in their direction.
0-1 up and in control of the game, the away side made it two. This one was for the dubious goals committee. It was Gareth Cosgrove’s long-range pass that unleashed Vaughan down the right-wing for the umpteenth time. The attacker appeared to be offside; however, the referee didn’t see it that way. A cross-shot from the young winger took a deflection off a retreating defender and the ball slithered into the goal to put the away side two goals to the good. Vaughan’s name will go down on the scoresheet, but it was certainly one that would have benefitted from VAR technology at the Iveagh Grounds.
0-2 down, but not out, the home side made a few tactical changes, with Brian Gaffney taking position up front. All of a sudden it was all one-way traffic. Dominating possession and with the away team backs to the wall, a lobbed through ball from Conlon at right-back found the run of Gaffney, who unceremoniously smashed home on the volley from 12 yards out. A lifeline for the home team. Within five minutes, the men in green scored a second goal to level the scoreline at 2-2. Having received the ball in his own half, Durand had time to turn and play a forward pass into the path of Cheevers on the left-wing. Cheevers carried the ball with purpose towards the edge of the box. The surface at this stage was akin to quicksand and the away team full-back was helpless to prevent the cross. Again, it was Gaffney arriving in the nick of time to level the scores with a cleanly struck volley from point blank range that gave Barrett in the away team goal zero chance. After springing to life with four goals in the final 20 minutes, the referee blew the whistle for full-time. There was no time for a winner on this occasion and the first DHFC Charity Cup was shared between Cosgrove and Durand’s select teams.
The result was not the important factor this time.
Home team: P Schütze, B Conlon, B Waldron, R Winters, E Daly, R Durand, G Cheevers (capt), F Kerrigan, D Gildea, B Gaffney, R Trueick, M Berkley, B Moran.
Away team: R Barrett, L Sheerin-Purcell, E O’Connor, C Cosgrove, A Delany, G Cosgrove, E Wrynn, E O’Brien, C Grant, J Cosgrove (capt), C Vaughan (1), A McGrath, R Murray (1), B Neary.
PS: At the time of writing, the club has managed to raise €1,000 for IWA. The details for making an online donation are at the end of this article and the donation site will remain open until 3 March. DHFC hopes to exceed the €2,000 target. Any additional donations are greatly appreciated and please follow the link below if you would like to support the Irish Wheelchair Association.
How to donate to the Irish Wheelchair Association
1. Type this url into your browser:
2. Click donate.
3. Chose the amount you would like to donate and your payment method.
All funds raised will be given directly to the Irish Wheelchair Association who will use them to continue their excellent work throughout the country.
To find out more about the Irish Wheelchair Association, go to www.iwa.ie.
Dublin Hospitals FC would like to thank our sponsors Medisec Ireland and medicalaccountant.ie for their continued support.