Yousef Mahdy 87' -
Andrew Dempsey reports from the UCD Bowl
Yoyo Mahdy’s 87th minute strike saw UCD squeeze past Cobh Ramblers on Friday evening at the Belfield Bowl.
The forward tapped home after a Paul Doyle free-kick was hooked back into play where he was on hand to secure UCD’s first home league win since July 2019.
With a new manager, a raft of new signings – and most notably – an alternate setting in the First Division, UCD have been going through a phase of transition.
Of the players that started the opening day of the season defeat to Derry City last term, only two remain in the name of Mark Dignam and Josh Collins.
Last week’s draw away to Wexford saw the Students hand out four debut starts to Lorcan Healy, Michael Gallagher, Evan Weir and the highly thought of forward Colm Whelan.
As for the visitors Cobh Ramblers, there has also been aspects of change around their senior side, with manager Stuart Ashton back in permanent charge of the club in recent months.
There was also debuts for a string of their new recruits last time out – with Lee Devitt and Martin Coughlan both making their Cobh bows in front of a healthy home attendance of 550 against Drogheda United.
While there was plenty of change at both clubs during the off-season – there was little alteration in both side’s starting line-ups, with only Cobh making a swap – with Bryan Murphy coming in for Cian Leonard.
And after a slow start – the game burst into life as Weir, who only made his League of Ireland debut last week, saw his thundering crash off the crossbar.
The left-back picked up the ball, and under no pressure – and arrowed his fiercely struck effort off the bar, much to the relief of the visitors.
But just moments later, the visitors almost took the lead through Ian Turner. Lee Devitt’s cross found the right-winger who couldn’t head home when it looked easier to miss.
Soon after, Kevin Taylor’s sumptuous delivery into the box also caused concern in the UCD penalty box, as netminder Healy was on hand to tip the ball away from danger.
Cobh continued to threaten as the half wore on, with Murphy almost forcing an error from the busy UCD keeper – but the ball just squirmed over the bar after a misplaced catch.
He then went close minutes later, but his effort just flashed wide of goal as the Rams ramped up the pressure on their hosts.
However, it was UCD that ought to be ahead at the break – but both Whelan and Liam Kerrigan were denied by two last ditch blocks on the line by a resolute Cobh rear-guard.
A dull opening to the second half followed, with little to no chances being created by either side – Whelan’s scuffed volley was the best both teams could produce.
The Students continued to press well in the midfield third of the pitch, but they were denied on two occasions – as Paul Doyle saw two of his chances snuffed clear by the visitor’s defence.
Cobh remained a threat, and if it wasn’t for the quick thing of Healy – they may have taken the lead through Cameron Harlson’s deflected effort – as the College’s new recruit saved well.
But it was at the death when the deadlock was broken as Mahdy poked home on the goal-line to secure an important first three points of the season for UCD.
UCD: Lorcan Healy ; Evan Weir , Michael Gallagher (Mark Dignam 72) , Evan Farrell , Josh Collins , Luke Boore ; Liam Kerrigan (Sean McDonald 81) , Jack Keaney , Paul Doyle ; Yousef Mahdy , Colm Whelan (Harry McEvoy 90) .
Subs not used: Eoghan O'Sullivan, Michael O'Keane, Danu Kinsella Bishop, Abdul Bapikur.
Booked: Paul Doyle (90),
Sent off: None.
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt ; Dylan Walsh , Kevin Taylor , Ben O'Riordan , Charlie Lyons ; Ian Turner , Pierce Phillips , David Hurley , Lee Devitt Molloy (Cameron Harlson 61) , Martin Coughlan (Stephen O'Leary 82) ; Bryan Murphy (Cian Leonard 72) .
Subs not used: Darryl Walsh, Gavin Ryan, Stephen O'Connor, Adam Foley.
Referee: Gavin Colfer.
Attendance: 200 (Estimate).
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Yoyo Mahdy (UCD).