Cameron Hill reports from UCD Bowl
It was a seven-goal thriller at the UCD Bowl on Friday night as Andy Myler’s UCD side outclassed Pat Devlin’s Cabinteely with a 5-2 win.
A hat-trick from Liam Kerrigan, along with a penalty from Colm Whelan and a superb free kick from Jack Keaney, helped the Students clinch a vital three points in their quest for promotion to the Premier Division.
However, they did have to come from behind as the visitors snatched a surprise lead early in the first half.
The home side made four changes to the team that edged Bray Wanderers last time out. Goalkeeper Carl Williams dropped to the bench, as Myler opted for Lorcan Healy as his man between the sticks.
Outfield, Jack Keaney, Colm Whelan and Evan Weir came into the team in place of Eoin Farrell, Adam Verdon and Mark Dignam.
Likewise, Cabinteely switched out their goalkeepers after their 1-0 defeat to Galway United - Adam Hayden was preferred to Harry Halwax.
Meanwhile, Marty Waters, Luke McWilliams and Eoin McPhilips all made way for Kevin Knight, Jack O’Reilly and Mitchell Byrne.
That last selection proved to be an inspired choice for Devlin’s team, as the visitors opened the scoring in only the fourth minute. UCD failed to deal with a Cabinteely corner and, amid the goalmouth scramble, Byrne got a foot to the ball and fired his team into the lead.
With their work now cut out for them, the Students grew into the game and began to develop some promising attacking play.
Kerrigan established himself as the danger man for UCD; his link-up play with Whelan and Paul Doyle asked serious questions of the Cabinteely defence, but they were unable to find the final pass that would unlock the visitor’s backline.
And then, the breakthrough. On 26 minutes, Kerrigan made a surging run into the Cabinteely box, and when he was dragged down, referee Alan Patchell immediately signalled a penalty kick. Whelan made no mistake with the spot kick.
Now that UCD had a taste for goals, they needed to get that second fix. And in the 27th minute, Kerrigan lost his marker and collected an inch-perfect pass from Doyle, before making an uninterrupted run into the box and slotting the ball home from close range.
In the space of two minutes, Cabinteely were suddenly trailing. However, they never dropped their heads, and put serious pressure on the hosts as they searched for that precious equaliser.
Their best chance came in the 33rd minute. Jack O’Reilly, who commanded the left side of the pitch for much of the game, pounced on the ball after it ricocheted off Evan Osam’s shins, and found Ben Feeney with his pass.
Feeney made an attempt on goal, but his shot only found a wall of blue shirts. Thus, the score remained 2-1 as the teams headed in for the half-time break.
When resumed it was the home side who came out swinging. A beautiful cross from Kerrigan just eluded Doyle’s tall frame.
For a large part of the second half, the game regressed into a period of scrappy football, with neither side able to gain a proper foothold.
Then, UCD extended their lead on 69 minutes. Higgins brought the ball from the left wing and shuttled it to Whelan, who thought about the shot before offloading to Doyle. The midfielder rolled it into the path of a sprinting Kerrigan on his right side, who blasted it Carlos Alberto-style into the away goal.
The Students made it four with a quarter of an hour left. Keaney’s beautiful strike from a free kick sailed into the top-left corner to all but guarantee the three points for the hosts.
Cabinteely were not ready to give up the ghost though; Ben Feeney’s goal on 76 minutes will have kept the UCD bench from getting too comfortable.
However, once Kerrigan completed his hat-trick with ten minutes to go, the hosts could rest easy.
And while the visitors pressed for a consolation goal in the dying throes of the match, everyone in the ground knew that it was now all over bar the shouting.
The win sees UCD climb to second place, ahead of Galway United on goal difference while Cabinteely remained eighth.