On Thursday 17th November, 2022 St. Kilian’s packed their mini-bus with confidence and focus for their cross-town trip to play Sutton Park School at the somewhat neutral venue of Mt. Temple Comprehensive in Clontarf. While the team had been hit hard by injuries in recent weeks we dispatched a strong 12-man group over to take on their counterparts from North County Dublin. Sutton have had the edge on us in recent years so while we were confident, you can’t quite escape the knowledge that you’re playing a strong hockey school away from home with only one sub!
The single sub quickly turned into no subs at all as hero winger Sebastian Hartas had to retire early in match with a muscle issue in his lower back meaning Cillian Doherty was pressed into service off the bench much sooner than anticipated.
While Sutton opened strongly and spent the first 10 mins probing the St. Kilian’s circle our central defensive duo of Alastair Daly and Geordan English were resolute in their protection for keeper Benjamin Rauch who had little enough to do despite the Sutton advances – distributing well to their mobile full backs Niels Pollard and Joshua Hughes who cleared their lines admirably under pressure.
Meanwhile in midfield Carlos Culligan was winning the local battle against the highly rated Sutton centre mid and was starting to turn the tide in the favour of the southsiders’ as the minutes played out. Felix Frey won a penalty corner after some very neat play on the Sutton end line and St. Kilian’s had a chance to strike.
And strike they did, with young Patrick Brennan subbing up from 6th class receiving the ball cooly at the top of the circle from a rock-steady Culligan drag, stepping once to his left and unleashing a rocket that seemed to be nailed-on for the left-hand post but somehow managed to find a wafer-thin line inside the post for the opening goal.
Pressure off a bit now and St. Kilian’s started opening up in possession with a lot more urgency, granting more room to the classy Eoin O’Connor (also subbing up from 6th class) to show his style and tenacity – linking positively with Carlos and Patrick to float balls down the left and right outside channels for the speedy Barra Muzellec and Cillian Doherty to chase. The pressure told once more as another penalty corner opportunity handed Eoin O’Connor his first senior goal for the school from another cleverly worked Felix Frey diversion at the top of the circle.
2-0 now and cruising nicely, St. Kilian’s took some risks and looked to the pace of centre forward Felix to latch onto a magnificent through ball which evaded the entire Sutton backline and needing only 3 cool touches from Frey Alonso to find the Sutton back board with style.
Job done as they might say, and a good day at the office for the lads. The contribution of the 6th class boys was a real highlight, and the effortless efficiency of Carlos and the tireless industry of Geordan forged this group into quite an effective unit. We look forward to the rest of the season and the high-quality games to come.
Hockey Coach at St. Kilian’s