Saturday, the 11th October, saw the return of the competitive domestic lacrosse to Ireland and the beginning of the 2014/2015 season. On a bright, autumnal day, five men’s teams were present to showcase their talents. As has now become tradition, the first gameday focuses on development and allows new players the chance to develop and integrate, with results of secondary importance. Each game lasts forty minutes.
The season kicked off with the showcase encounter between UCD 1 and the Dublin Avengers, pitting last season’s cup winners against the league champions. While both teams were shorn of some of their key performers due to graduation and injury respectively, there was plenty of evidence that both are well placed to challenge for silverware in the coming season. After a close start, UCD pulled away in the second half to win 8-4. Topscorer for UCD was Cian Rushe with three goals while Jake Morris scored twice for Dublin on his ILL debut.
Next up was the meeting between the Dublin Bay Prawns and UCD 2. For large parts of the first half, the vastly more experienced Prawns outfit looked rusty and failed to take advantage of their opportunities. By half time, it seemed as if a shock was on the cards with the score delicately poised at 2-1 in favour of the Prawns. However, the older heads began to assert themselves in the second half and debut goals by Paul O’Connor and Tadhg Bolger helped to eventually ease the Prawns to a 9-2 win. Stand-out moments included long pole goals by both Gearoid Dunbar (Prawns) and Eoin Parsons (UCD).
The Galway team then made their entrance against Dublin. This game saw the resurrection of one of the most potent weapons ever seen in the Irish Lacrosse League – the “windscreen wiper” executed by Mike Kennedy. In a fifteen minute burst in the first half, Kennedy reeled off four goals to firmly place his side in charge. Galway’s defence, in front of Danny Jones, improved in the second half, however, the Avengers ended as victors on a 7-3 scoreline.
In most-entertaining match of the day, UCD 1 took on the Prawns. The first half ebbed and flowed with UCD scoring first, only for the Prawns to then score two in quick succession, including a wonderful individual effort from Gareth Kavanagh. By half-time, UCD had retaken the lead, edging it 3-2. Immediately after half-time, the Prawns equalised through Cillian Murphy and the match stayed locked at 3-3 for the next twelve minutes. A controversial “did-it-or-did-it-not-cross-the-goal-line” decision then separated the teams and with the Prawns chasing the game, UCD picked them off with three further goals. Sean O’Shaughnessy lead the scoring for his UCD team with two goals and an assist. Final score: UCD 7-3 Prawns.
Finally, in another keenly contested encounter, Galway took on the challenge of UCD 2. While both teams featured players lacking in game experience, the level of play and commitment amongst the newer players was nonetheless impressive and shows great potential for the future. Galway eventually battled to a 4-2 win, lead by stalwart Ryan Doran, who may have scored his final goal in the Irish Lacrosse League. Cormac Brennan had both assists for the UCD side.
All eyes now turn to the Newtownards Cup, with the first set of games to be played in Galway on the 15th November, with the concluding set to be played in Newtownards on the 29th November.