Andrew Dempsey reports from the UCD Bowl
Sligo Rovers reached the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup with a three-one win over UCD on Sunday evening at the Belfield Bowl.
The Students took an early lead through former Sligo Rovers underage star Paul Doyle, but they were unable to hold firm.
The Bit O’Red scored three unanswered goals after UCD’s opener – with Kyle McFadden, Ronan Coughlan and Jesse Devers all netting for Liam Buckley’s side.
UCD made four changes from their sweeping three-nil win against Cabinteely last week, with manager Andy Myler hoping for his side to build some consistency ahead of the First Division run-in.
For Sligo, they kept the bones of their starting eleven together from last week’s win over Dundalk – with only one change being made.
John Mahon missed out despite being close to making his long-awaited return after a leg break in pre-season for the Bit O’Red.
The Students – who were looking to reach their third consecutive FAI Cup quarter-final – started the better – and they took the lead through Paul Doyle in the 7th minute.
Doyle’s effort deflected into the back of Ed McGinty’s net after Sligo were unable to deal with Liam Kerrigan’s corner.
And their opener came just moments after Lewis Banks’ clearance nearly went into his own net as Sligo struggled to get to terms with a strong Belfield opening surge.
However, Sligo, who began the game in their traditional 4-3-3 shape under Liam Buckley – reacted well to going behind and levelled through defender Kyle McFadden.
McFadden rose highest in front of UCD keeper Lorcan Healy to nod home from David Cawley’s simple corner-kick routine.
Ryan De Vries then went close for the visitor’s moments later, but his shot from outside the box was well saved and gathered by UCD keeper Healy.
UCD then went close to retaking their lead, but Doyle’s free-kick could not be turned home much to his and his teammates anguish.
On the half-hour mark, in-form Ronan Coughlan then went close – but he could convert at the back post after he was found by Cawley’s expertly taken free-kick.
UCD’s Gallagher was soon called into some defensive action after impressing in an attacking sense – with the Donegal native putting his body on the line to deny Sligo a certain goal in the 36th minute.
And despite playing second fiddle since Sligo’s leveller, the Students will have felt aggrieved not to have been awarded a spot-kick just before the break.
Yoyo Mahdy appeared to have been taken down by Alex Cooper, but referee Adriano Reale turned away the vociferous UCD shouts for a penalty as the side’s went in level at the break.
After a topsy-turvy opening half, it was Buckley’s Bit O’Red who went close to taking the lead in the 52nd minute through Coughlan.
The ex-Huddersfield academy forward picked up on a misplaced pass back from Evan Osam, but he could only drag his shot wide across the face of the UCD goal.
De Vries went close again – twice in the space of as many minutes – first blazing wide after a pull-back from his Sligo teammate.
Moments later, De Vries saw his fiercely struck effort cannon off the top of the UCD crossbar – as the visitors sensed blood.
And when Coughlan gave his side the lead, it came as no real surprise given the dominance of the Premier Division side.
Winger Jesse Devers was set free on the right-flank and his cross found the head of Coughlan who headed home his fourth goal of the season.
And Devers made the game safe for Buckley’s Sligo in the 79th minute as he blasted home at the back post past Healy into the UCD net.
The former Finn Harps winger was fed in by recent recruit De Vries – and he made no mistake to end the tie as a contest.
Coughlan was denied his second in the final stages of the game as UCD bowed out of the FAI Cup at the hands of Sligo Rovers for the second year on the spin.
UCD: Lorcan Healy; Evan Weir (Michael O'Keane 75), Evan Osam, Harry McEvoy, Michael Gallagher, Josh Collins; Colm Whelan, Liam Kerrigan, Paul Doyle; Yousef Mahdy (Mark Dignam 65).
Subs not used: Matthew Treanor, Eoin Farrell, Luke Boore, Ciaran Behan, Isaac Akinsete.
Booked: Michael Gallagher (58).
Sent off: None.
Sligo Rovers: Edward McGinty; Teemu Penninkangas, Kyle McFadden (Sigitas Olberkis 39), Alex Cooper, Lewis Banks; Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, Niall Morahan, Ryan De Vries; Jesse Devers, Rónán Coughlan.
Subs not used: Ronan Murray, Luke McNicholas, Regan Donelon, Mark Byrne.
Booked: Ryan De Vries (23) ,Niall Morahan (84) Teemu Penninkangas (90) .
Sent off: None.
Referee: Adriano Reale
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Ryan De Vries (Sligo Rovers).