Andrew Dempsey reports from the UCD Bowl
UCD turned in a superb performance to dismantle Athlone Town by six goals to nil on a fine August evening at the UCD Bowl.
A hat-trick from Colm Whelan and goals from Liam Kerrigan and Adam Lennon put the gloss on an emphatic Students win as Athlone Town were left licking their wounds on a scarring night at the office, with Michael Schlingermann scoring an own-goal for good measure.
Adrian Carberry, who was suspended for the game with a touchline ban, made two changes from his side’s scoreless draw with nine-man Cobh Ramblers last time out.
UCD on the other hand went with two alterations from last weekend’s frustrating 0-0 draw with a Covid-19 hit Shelbourne, with Colm Whelan making his return to the starting XI from suspension.
Knowing that a win would put them eight points clear of Athlone in the playoff race, Andy Myler’s charges started brightly, and went close early on through the aforementioned Whelan, but he was unable to get his head on an Evan Osam cross.
Athlone, however, were also lively during an entertaining opening third of the half, going close twice in the space of five minutes. James Doona’s cross into the box was cleared last-ditch by Harvey O’Brien, before he curled an effort off the post moments later.
But they were to be undone after 24 minutes following a calamitous own-goal from Michael Schlingermann.
Sam Todd rose highest to meet a Paul Doyle corner-kick, seeing his header clip off the woodwork. But Schlingermann could not keep it out after it came off the post, with the ball going in off the backside of the ex-Galway keeper.
He would, however, make amends for his mistake just after the half-hour mark, denying Whelan with an acrobatic save following Liam Kerrigan’s header across the face of goal.
But he could not keep a good man down as Whelan finally got the goal his play deserved on the stroke of half-time to all but end Athlone’s hopes in the contest.
Paul Doyle raced through the almost invisible Athlone Town midfield who were at sixes and sevens, to pass the ball to Whelan, who turned Kilian Cantwell on a sixpence before firing home into the back of the net, giving his side a 2-0 lead at the break.
If Athlone were disjointed during the first-half at times, it got a whole lot worse for them during a nightmarish second-half display.
The Students went three clear through Liam Kerrigan who profited on some horrendous defending from the hosts who seemed intent on waiting for the linesman to raise his flag, but that never came after Doyle’s through ball, with the ex-Sligo winger slotting home.
And UCD’s lead rose to four just past the hour mark via Whelan’s 15th competitive goal of the season.
Both he and Kerrigan broke after Adam Wixted was dispossessed during an Athlone Town attack, with Whelan dancing around the hapless Schlingermann who could do little to deny the lethal marksman.
Adam Lennon then got on the scoresheet against his former club, heading home with aplomb from a Kerrigan cross into the box rising highest to make it 5-0.
Then it was six, as Whelan got the hat-trick. Kerrigan once again crossed into the box, finding Lennon. This time, however, Lennon could not convert, but it mattered little as Whelan was on hand to tap home, finishing his night with the match-ball yet again.
Thankfully for Athlone, they would not concede again. But this was a scarring night for them as their playoff hopes looked to have gone up in smoke.
It’s not over for them yet, but it will take a serious turn of events if they are pull their way back into this one as UCD’s recent upturn of form showed little sign of abating with a scintillating display, their best of the season so far anyway.
UCD: Lorcan Healy; Evan Weir, Sam Todd (Luke Boore 73), Evan Osam (Michael Gallagher 73), Harvey O'Brien; Adam Verdon, Jack Keaney (c), Paul Doyle, Mark Dignam (Adam Lennon 66); Colm Whelan (Sami Ayoola 74), Liam Kerrigan (Daniel Norris 74).
Subs not used: Carl Williams, Harry McEvoy, Dara Keane, Eoin Farrell.
Booked: Paul Doyle (69), Evan Weir (78).
Athlone Town: Mícheál Schlingermann; Dylan Hand, Aidan Friel (Daniel McKenna 62), Garry Comerford (Tunmise Sobowale 62), Killian Cantwell; Adam Wixted, Jamie Hollywood (Oisin Duffy 69), James Doona, Derek Daly, Conor Barry (Kurtis Byrne 46); Glen McAuley (Shane Barnes 46).
Subs not used: Tommy Holland, Scott Delaney, David Brookes, Katlego Mashigo.
Booked: Dylan Hand (84) Daniel McKenna (86).
Referee: Alan Carey.
Attendance: 150 (Estimate).
extratime.com Player of the Match: Colm Whelan (UCD).