The final round of games in the Newtownards Cup, run by Ireland Lacrosse, was held at Dairy Hall playing fields in Newtownards on Saturday, the 30th of November. In the past, the competition had been a straight knock-out tournament with only 4 teams playing: Dublin Avengers, University College Dublin, Dublin Bay Prawns and NUI Galway. This year saw the introduction of a second team from UCD, so the cup took on a mini-league style where each team played each other once. After the first round of matches, the Dublin Bay Prawns and the UCD 1st team were tied after winning two matches apiece.
The first game of the day saw the UCD 2nd team take on the Dublin Avengers. Long time Avengers captain Sean “Gibby” Gibson had to watch from the sidelines due to an injury and they were also missing other regulars such as Conor O’Brien and James Nolan. Thankfully, the recently re-established “QUB Wolves Lacrosse Club” lead by chairman of the club Paul Martin and coach Steven Van de Put joined the ranks and supplied six players to fill the Avengers’ roster alongside local man Simon Daly. In a very close encounter, the score ended 4 – 3 to the Avengers thanks to a resolute performance from Tim Segal between the pipes for the Avengers. The highlight for the Avengers was Jake Morris with two gaols, including the winner. Nicolas Rodriguez top-scored for the UCD side.
League leaders, the Dublin Bay Prawns then faced NUI Galway. The Galway team were missing some regulars such as Chris Clarkson, Stephen Lee-Cheonng, Jake Hobby Royle and their longest serving player Ryan Doran. However, they were still able to field a strong team. Victory in this match-up would see the Prawns into a decider against the UCD 1st team and in the end, they ran out winners on a scoreline of 10-1 with Gareth Kavanagh and Cillian Murphy both getting a hat-trick. Perhaps the best goals for the Prawns were the two from QUB rookie Paul Douglas and the goal from the Prawns goalie, Kevin Quinn, who ran the full length of the pitch and buried it past his opposing keeper. Daniel Hynes notched one for the men in maroon to make sure it wasn’t a white-wash. This game was followed by a 6-0 win by the UCD 1st team over their 2nd team.
Galway and Dublin then faced-off to battle for 3rd in the competition. Galway took the lead with a goal in the second minute by Seamus Monaghan only to be pegged back by a goal from Dublin veteran and Ireland Lacrosse CEO, Mike Kennedy. Two further goals from Jake Morris and Fiachra O’Coillean left the Dublin side in the lead at half time. Both teams came out fighting for the second half but it was the Avengers who edged the game 4-3 to secure 3rd position.
Expectations were high for another close encounter in the deciding game of the day, witnessed by the Lord Mayor of Ards, Philip Smith. Both the Prawns and the UCD 1st team were full of experienced players. The Prawns were, however, missing a few of their top names including Paul Murran, a key part to the Prawns attack, and Tadhg Bolger, the Prawns face-off man. As a result, the first half was dominated by the younger UCD team, who blitzed the Prawns in the opening 10 minutes of the match. A five goal advantage was established before the Prawns managed to get a foothold in the game, with Matt Carney getting two for the college team. The Prawns came out a changed team in the second half and were much better both offensively and defensively. Unfortunately it was too little, too late as Martin “Bonagee” Scanlon’s goal was their only consolation, leaving the final score 5-1 to UCD, who captured the Newtownards Cup trophy for the second year running. UCD Captain Eoin Parsons gratefully collected the cup from the Lord Mayor, Philip Smith.
A great day was had by all with a few locals including MLA Michelle McIlveen popping by to watch a game not often seen in Newtownards in recent times. The Newtownards Cup will return next year and with new clubs such as the QUB Wolves, Carlow IT and Waterford IT entering the fold. Who knows who will claim the silverware next year! Lacrosse, however, is not over in Ireland for this season, the National Indoor Lacrosse League (NILL) starts in January in Dublin and the outdoor Irish Lacrosse League (ILL) will also start in the new year with Gamedays due to be played in Dublin, Galway and Belfast.
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