UCD fell to pieces in the final minutes of their play-off clash against Galway FC as the tribesmen scored twice late on through Paddy Barrett and Ryan Manning to cancel out a first half Timmy Molloy strike meaning that it is all to play for on Friday in the second leg.
The Students despite dominating the possession early on found it hard to create any clear cut chances in the opening exchanges of this tie. Galway on the other hand despite regularly being pegged back in their own half had some good opening chances as Gary Shanahan and Stephen Walsh both went close for the away side.
UCD took the lead on 18 minutes through Timmy Molloy in what was their first shot on target of the game. Gary Burke was the creator as he cut inside his man before laying the ball off to his team-mate. Galway born Molloy then struck a beautiful strike into the far corner of the goal.
Things threatened to boil over as we approached the half hour mark as Mark Langtry originally felt he was fouled while on a mazing run down the left wing. Seconds later Colm Crowe went straight through Ryan Manning in a challenge that the UCD midfielder ended up receiving a yellow card for.
Conor Cannon nearly repeated his heroics of Friday night against Drogheda when he received the ball in the box, turned onto his left foot and attempted to lob the ball over Conor Gleeson. Luckily for Galway FC supporters Gleeson was up to the challenge as he punched the shot clear of his goal mouth.
The second half started slowly for both sides but suddenly threatened to spring into life just before the hour mark as Cannon’s first time cross field ball looped over the Galway defence and found Chris Mulhall. The winger in turn found the supporting Burke but a poor first touch halted the UCD break in its tracks.
Galway then took control of the game and had numerous chances to tie level with Ryan Manning running through on goal only for a mixture of O’Donnell and Hugh Douglas combining to save the day for UCD.
If Manning’s miss was bad, then Jake Keegan’s failure to slot the ball beyond O’Donnell when through on goal was downright shameful. Keegan raced through after a fantastic ball over the top, only for the striker to blaze over the bar with O’Donnell and the UCD goal at his mercy.
With less than five minutes left Galway fans could not believe what they were seeing when a corner fell kindly to Paddy Barrett and he blasted wide from eight yards out, in what can only be described as a defender's effort.
However, if you keep trying eventually things will turn around for you as Galway found out. A long throw by Marc Ludden caused The Students all sorts of problems as Paddy Barrett headed past O’Donnell to give Galway fans their just deserves.
What happened next was even more surprising as, from yet another set piece, Manning was given far too much space by a shocked UCD defence. They Students found themselves two down after Manning duly accepted his invite to turn and finish past O’Donnell.
The drama wasn’t quite over as deep into injury time O’Donnell had to be at his very best when he was forced to rush off his line to deny the onrushing Gary Shanahan. The teams will meet again in Galway this coming Friday night.
UCD: Conor O’Donnell; Gareth Matthews, Ian Ryan, Hugh Douglas, Mark Langtry (Daniel Tobin 78); Chris Mulhall, Gary Burke, Colm Crowe, James Kavanagh (Greg Sloggett 82), Timmy Molloy; Conor Cannon (Samir Belhout 82).
Subs Not Used: Niall Corbet, Sean Coyne, Thomas Boyle.
Yellow Cards: Colm Crowe (27), Gareth Matthews (39).
Galway: Conor Gleeson; Colm Horgan, Paddy Barrett, Stephen Walsh, Marc Ludden; Gary Shanahan, Paul Sinnott, Ryan Manning, Ryan Connelly, Jason Molloy (Vinny Faherty 68); Jake Keegan.
Subs Not Used: Ger Hanley, Enda Curran, Martin Connely, Padraic Cunningham, Cormac Rafferty, Robbie Egan.
Yellow Cards: Jason Molloy (24).
Referee: James McKell
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary Shanahan (Galway FC)