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St Vincent’s defeat Trinity in a pre-Christmas cracker

After winning the toss, Vincent’s elected to open with a strong wind at their back in the hope of getting ahead early and hitting on the counter in the second half. The tactic was rewarded early. Rory Durand slipped a neat through ball to Aidan, who made no mistake with a low finish across the keeper’s body — 1-0. Peter Kelly nearly doubled the lead a short time later, darting through a number of back-pedaling defenders, only to see his close range toe-poke smartly saved.

Unfortunately, things began to unravel before the interval. Trinity pressed a high line and the lack of time and space forced the home team into countless sloppy errors. With little room to manoeuvre in their own half, Vincent’s resorted to aimless long balls that repeatedly ran harmlessly through to the goalkeeper due to a combination of strong wind and the wet astro surface. Trinity deservedly made it 1-1 when a ball over the top was collected and buried into the bottom corner from a tight angle.

Things went from bad to worse when a poor clearance was met with a 20-yard first-time effort that caught Sean Keane in the nets by surprise — 1-2. The half-time whistle could not have come sooner.

Vincent’s copied the opponents’ high-press against the wind in the second half. The defence of Kieran Keane, Brian Kelly, Martin Hayes and James Clarke possessed a nice blend of pace on the ground and power in the air to deal with the opposition forwards, and ensure the ball was continually recycled to the Vincent’s midfielders and attackers. A period of sustained pressure culminated in a deserved equaliser. Aidan roasted his man for pace down the left flank, and cut back inside to find Fionn at the far post, who bundled in from close range — 2-2. Mark Dwyer’s first goal for the club gave the home side the lead, a powerful close range finish after a goalmouth scramble — 3-2.

Trinity kept fighting, and levelled when a through ball resulted in a one-on-one save ricocheting kindly to be tapped home from close range — 3-3. Vincent’s responded in style. Fionn made it 4-3 when a mazy run was rounded off with a low 15-yarder into the bottom corner. John produced the goal of the night to close the scoring and make it 5-3. A half-clearance fell to the edge of the area, and was rocketed into the bottom corner with a first-time half-volley. The keeper never moved a muscle.

This game was a pulsating encounter that honoured the old ‘game of two halves’ cliché. Greater composure, better quality in front of goal, and the change in tactical approach was key to the turnaround. Wrapping-up 2018 on a high, the team will look to keep the momentum going into the New Year.

Vincent’s key performer

Fionn Nally marked what could be his last St Vincent’s appearance for the foreseeable future with an inspired second-half performance. With the situation looking bleak at half time, Fionn notched two goals after the break to spark the comeback. The talented winger will be making the move ‘down under’ to Adelaide in January. Darren McMahon now has the opportunity for increased game time in an attacking role. We all wish Fionn the very best of luck with the move, and will welcome him back with open arms upon his return.

Match-day squad

Sean Keane, Martin Hayes, James Clarke, Kieran Keane, Brian Kelly, Mark Dwyer, Peter Kelly, John Cosgrove, Fionn Nally, Rory Durand, Aidan McGrath, Peter McAnena, Cian Ward.

What’s next?

There will be no competitive football until late January, as the Leinster Senior League goes on hiatus for the Christmas festivities. Training will continue as usual, and there will be a pick-up in activity in early January to ensure the team is in top shape when games get back underway.

Sponsors

The Medical Protection Society, Progressive Financial Services, Doyle Interior Systems and consultants at St Vincent’s University Hospital have contributed generously this season. The club could not survive with the continued support of these fantastic partners and we would like to sincerely thank them for all they have done.

In addition…

Training will be every Wednesday evening from 20:15 to 21:45 at St Kilians’s German school until late March, and we are always looking for new faces to get involved.

Follow the St Vincent’s Hospital FC Facebook page, or get in contact via email svuhfc@gmail.com.

A brief season review

It was always going to be difficult to replicate last season’s success, and the club has struggled to adjust to life in a much tougher league. The Leinster Senior League Saturday Major 1B is two ahead of the previous division, and we are one ahead of Ballybrack FC — the club recently made famous by faking a player’s death to get a game cancelled.

More than any other team, St Vincent’s rely on natural talent to compete, and are lucky to have some of the best individual players in the league. We train once per week to facilitate busy work and life commitments. The vast majority of opposition teams train twice. Consistency from week-to-week has always been an issue on account of player availability. It is impossible for doctors to be available every weekend, though this has become a greater issue as the competition becomes stronger.

A number of new faces have been integrated into the side this season. It takes time on the pitch to become familiar with team-mate preferences and the team’s style of play in different circumstances, which is challenging when the starting line-up changes every week. The learning curve has been steep, though clear progress continues to be made, and it is fantastic to have so many good young players coming through.

The players are under no illusions that they are embroiled in a relegation dogfight, having claimed seven points from 11 games. A number of games decided by one or two goals have gone against us, and these were the type of results we were coming out on top of last season. This reflects a combination of bad luck, lack of cutting edge in front of goal, and frequent defensive errors in key situations. Teams in this division punish mistakes, and know how to defend a lead once in front. Falling behind is difficult to recover from. We are also lacking in confidence at times, which makes it more difficult for the team to keep their composure when under pressure.

The Tom Carroll Cup, on the other hand, represents a genuine opportunity to win silverware this season. We have progressed through two rounds to make the last 16 and are among the top-seeded teams left in the competition. Winning the Cup will not be easy, and the draw may play a role, but we are focused on giving it the attention it deserves.

There have been a number of excellent performers this year. Peter Kelly and John Cosgrove continue to control the midfield area, while Rory Durand has excelled in his new centre-forward role. Aidan McGrath and Fionn Nally continue to bag goals, and Fionn Lynch has been an outstanding addition to the front three (when not competing in MMA fights). Darren McMahon, Andy Delany and Kieran Keane have been strong in defence as usual.

Playing competitive football on a weekly basis is a great way to keep fit and have an interest outside of the daily grind of medical practice. It is a key component of many individuals’ physical and emotional wellbeing. The club has a wonderful culture that keeps it enjoyable, and we all look forward to training and matches. We believe a purple patch of form is just around the corner, and look forward to proving ourselves in the New Year.

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