The annual Colours match between arch rivals UCD and Trinity College takes place at Donnybrook on Friday night (kick-off 6.30pm).
This student derby is the ultimate ‘one off game’ where the form book goes out the window. The past two years the red hot favourites for the game have come a-cropper on both occasions.
Two years ago Trinity College were going well in Division 2 of the Ulster Bank League with UCD having a rare ‘off year’. Coming into the game Trinity must have felt it was their year as UCD had not won a single game after Christmas.
But the Belfield boys had other ideas and completely blitzed the city centre-based University from the kick-off to score twice in the opening minutes. Trinity never recovered and UCD won convincingly 28-8.
Last season UCD celebrated their Centenary Year and had a phenomenal season by any standards, going on tour to South Africa, winning the Leinster Senior Cup, going undefeated in Division 2 and all they had to do was beat mid-table Trinity to win the All-Ireland League Division 2 title undefeated.
They had already gained promotion several weeks previous but the underdog Trinity side played a near perfect game, going blow-for-blow with UCD in a fantastic advertisement for University rugby with both teams keeping ball in hand and running from everywhere on the field.
In the second half Trinity managed to get ahead and controlled the ball brilliantly to win out 31-22 in a huge upset.
So this year’s Colours clash is extremely hard to call – particularly as both teams are in different divisions. UCD are mid-table in Ulster Bank League Division 1B and Trinity are in third place in Division 2, only one point behind the leaders.
The two teams actually played a Leinster League fixture back in August and UCD scored a last minute try to win 23-22.
All support is welcome for this much-anticipated 60th edition of the Colours match as UCD and Trinity renew their famous rivalry at Donnybrook.
This historic fixture, which dates back to December 1952, has seen Ireland stars like Jamie Heaslip (Trinity) and Brian O’Driscoll and Sean O’Brien (both UCD) earn their colours over the past number of years and the next generation of future stars will face off at Donnybrook.
So will UCD be celebrating their 35th win in the series under new director of rugby Bobby Byrne, or can Tony Smeeth’s Trinity charges retain the title – something they have not done since the 1995/96 season – and secure a 22nd victory for their college?
Whatever the result, the game is sure to celebrate what UCD RFC President James Meenan says is ‘so much of what is great about rugby – skill, athleticism, fierce competition, friendship and respect’.
TRINITY COLLEGE: James O’Donoghue (Terenure College); Neil Hanratty (Gonzaga College), Ciaran Wade (Clongowes Wood College), Paddy Lavelle (Gonzaga College), Niyi Adeolukan (DLS Churchtown); David Joyce (Cistercian College Roscrea) (capt), Michael McLoughlin (Clongowes Wood College); Ian Hirst (The King’s Hospital), Warren Larkin (Clongowes Wood College), Paul McFeely (Londonderry & Foyle), Colin MacDonnell (C&P College Kilcullen), Jack Kelly (Blackrock College), Colm Goode (Villers College), Dominic Gallagher (Rathmore GS), Jack Dilger (Clongowes Wood College).
Replacements: Ariel Robles (The King’s Hospital), Rob Cruess-Callaghan (St. Michael’s College), Billy Glynn (Clongowes Wood College), Julian Mackey (Blackrock College), Paddy McCabe (Belvedere College), Tim O’Mahony (Clongowes Wood College), Brendan O’Connell (St. Mary’s College).
Coaches – Tony Smeeth and Hugh McGuire; Team Manager – John Young
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN: Michael Twomey (St. Michael’s College); Sam Coghlan Murray (Newbridge College), Andy Cummiskey (St. Michael’s College) (capt), David Lynch (Naas CBS), Tom Fletcher (Clongowes Wood College); Niall Earls (DLS Wicklow), Rob Shanley (St. Michael’s College); Kieran Moloney (Terenure College), Risteard Byrne (Terenure College), Brian Hall (Cistercian College Roscrea), Brian Cawley (Blackrock College), Keelan McKenna (St. Michael’s College), Danny Kenny (East Glendalough School), Mark McGroarty (Gonzaga College), Shane Grannell (CBS Monkstown).
Replacements: James Tracy (Newbridge College), Neil Foley (Blackrock College), Richie Bent (St. Mary’s College), Alan O’Connor (Skerries Community College), Peter du Toit (The King’s Hospital), James Thornton (Terenure College), Alex Kelly (St. Michael’s College).
Coaches – Bobby Byrne, Shane Moore and Killian Keane; Team Managers – Kevin Kenny and Daibhi O’Leary
Referee: Brian MacNeice (Leinster)