Round four of the Irish Lacrosse League returned to UCD on the 7th March. The Prawns who had already secured top spot and a place in this season’s final had a bye, so the other four teams battled it out in an attempt to enhance their opportunities to secure a berth in the season-ending match-ups.
The first match saw a UCD side, encouraged by a strong victory the previous weekend against Galway, face this season’s newcomers, Queens. Unfortunately for the Belfast team, an errant clear in the opening two minutes allowed UCD to take the lead through Sean O’Shaughnessy. Queens dug in after this and found themselves level late in the first quarter, when Gavin Donaldson equalised after a fine solo effort. Ciaran Boylan, who was the university team’s top scorer the week before, was much more subdued throughout the game, but it was still his pass which set up Ryan Oakes to give UCD the lead at the end of the first period. The second quarter followed a similar pattern to the first with neither team able to maintain any real offensive momentum. UCD did increase their lead though with a further goal by Matt Doncel on the stroke of half-time.
The goal lead seemed to relax UCD and they quickly rattled off three goals in the opening ten minutes of the second half, the pick of them being an outstanding outside shot by Cian Rushe, which flew by the Queens’ goalie. Queens were able to respond again through another piece of individual brilliance by Donaldson. Goals by Aidan Kelly and O’Shaughnessy killed off the last of the Queen’s challenge in the final quarter.
Final score: UCD 8 – Queens 3
UCD: Sean O’Shaughnessy (2 G, 3 A), Aidan Kelly (2 G), Ciaran Boylan (1 G, 1 A), Ryan Oakes (1 G), Matt Doncel (1 G), Cian Rushe (1 G), Sean Judge (1 A)
Queens: Gavin Donaldson (2 G), Zak Jordan (1 G)
The second game matched the Dublin Avengers against Galway in what was effectively a knock-out game; both sides knew that a defeat would end their chances of making the league decider. Any pressure which this brought seemed to have little effect on the more experienced players, most notably the timeless Mike Kennedy, who scored both of Dublin’s opening goals. Rather than capitalising on their early advantage, the Avengers allowed Galway to get back into the game, with two goals by Stephen Lee-Cheong.
This game also saw the first appearance of a batch of young players for the Avengers – Colm Sweeney, Danny Quirke, Jake Dygas and Jack Free all making their lacrosse debuts. Sweeney, in particular, showed his potential early in the second quarter, when he was able to slot the ball past the Galway goalie and register his first ever goal. This was soon followed by another Dublin goal by Drew Wichmann. The Avengers held onto this two goal lead into half-time.
Wichmann put on a shooting masterclass early in the second half, rattling off three goals in quick succession. Stand-in goalie for Galway, John McKeague, was left helpless by the speed and accuracy of the shots. Despite a string of fine saves, McKeague was also unable to prevent Kennedy from registering his third and fourth goals of the game.
The final ten minutes did witness something of a revival by the side from the west of Ireland. Lee-Cheong added two further impressive individual goals before Ryan Doran ended the scoring. These goals ensured that Galway got the bonus point available.
Final score: Dublin 9 – Galway 5
Dublin Avengers: Mike Kennedy (4 G), Drew Wichmann (4 G), Colm Sweeney (1 G), Sean Cranford (1 A)
Galway: Stephen Lee-Cheong (4 G), Ryan Doran (1 G), Chris Clarkson (1 A)
ILL Men’s Standings
|Teams||P||W||D||L||Bonus Points||Total Points|
|Dublin Bay Prawns||3||3||0||0||0||12|
*Deducted three points
Individual player stats can be found here: http://goo.gl/rmS4eu.
The final round of regular season games takes place in Belfast on the 28th March where Queens face the Dublin Bay Prawns and University College Dublin play the Dublin Avengers. A point will be enough for the university side to clinch a place in the final.