Andrew Dempsey reports from the UCD Bowl
An inspired UCD performance turned the form book upside down and brought an end to Shelbourne’s unbeaten run to advance to the second round of the FAI Cup.
A Colm Whelan penalty and Harvey O’Brien’s thumping header ensured the Students reached the second round with minimal fuss in the first-ever FAI Cup meeting between the sides.
UCD did have to deal with waves of Shels attacks, but they were never truly in trouble against an out-of-sorts Shelbourne.
Both teams came into the game very contrasting form, with UCD having lost four of their last seven since playing Shelbourne at the end of May at Tolka Park.
The Reds, on the other hand, were unbeaten since the start of the season, and had not lost away from home since their last game in the FAI Cup – a 4-1 defeat to Athlone Town in last year’s quarter-finals.
Shels boss Ian Morris made several changes, three in total, including the return of Ireland underage international Brian McManus in place of Ryan Brennan.
The Students made just one alteration from their 2-1 defeat away to Treaty United last weekend, with Evan Weir replacing Dara Keane.
Despite their patchy recent form, UCD started the game the better of the two sides, and they ought to have taken the lead through Whelan after ten minutes.
The Ireland under-21 striker picked up on a poor pass from Michael Barker, after a moment’s hesitation from Brendan Clarke, but he was unable to beat the ex-Saints keeper one on one.
Shels hit back minutes later and went close following some good play of their own, but Shane Farrell saw his fiercely-struck shot batted away by Lorcan Healy in the UCD goal.
Whelan was again at the forefront of more good Students play, but he was unable to lay the ball off to Paul Doyle in time to shoot on goal, with Ally Gilchrist making a timely block.
But after a slow start, the Reds grew into the game more and more, and enjoyed much in the last third for the remainder of the half.
Farrell went close again on the half-hour mark, but he could only drag his shot wide of goal after being found by an excellent dink over the UCD defence by Michael O’Connor.
As the half came to a close, Maxi Kouogun went close on two occasions, first heading wide from a Kevin O’Connor free-kick and then over from a Georgie Poynton corner.
But the deadlock would be broken minutes into the second period thanks to a Whelan spot-kick.
The former Waterford under-19 star was felled by Poynton before he fired home into the back of the net with a well-struck penalty.
Mark Dignam would then go close for the Students minutes after they took the lead, but his header was well saved by Clarke in the Shels goal.
Dignam would go close again shortly after, but he saw his low shot deflected wide for a corner-kick. Whelan would then head wide from the resulting scramble following the corner.
Paul Doyle went close himself, but he could only flash wide. But that opening livened a sluggish Shels up as Ally Gilchrist and Michael Barker both went close from set-pieces.
UCD would however make the game safe with ten minutes of normal time to play, as O’Brien thumped home a headed effort from Doyle’s corner.
The Mayo man’s header was a microchism of a powerful and inspired performance from Andy Myler’s charges as they seek to replicate their previous Cup heroics of 1984.
Meanwhile, Shels still have a league title to win, and they remain on course to do so regardless of a dismal cup exit.
UCD: Lorcan Healy; Sam Todd, Harvey O'Brien, Jack Keaney (c); Evan Weir, Evan Osam, Paul Doyle, Mark Dignam (Adam Verdon 90), Sean Brennan; Colm Whelan, Liam Kerrigan.
Subs not used: Carl Williams, Michael Gallagher, Luke Boore, Adam Lennon, Eoin Farrell, Evan Caffrey, Dara Keane, Danu Kinsella Bishop.
Booked: Colm Whelan (49), Harvey O'Brien (84), Lorcan Healy (87).
Shelbourne: Brendan Clarke; Kevin O'Connor (c), Maxim Kouogun (Denzil Fernandes 86), Ally Gilchrist, Michael Barker; Dayle Rooney (John Ross Wilson 86), George Poynton (Eric Molloy 62), Brian McManus, JJ Lunney, Shane Farrell (Ryan Brennan 62); Michael O'Connor.
Subs not used: Jack Brady, Luke Byrne, Gavin Molloy, Kyle O'Connor, Alex Nolan.
Booked: Dayle Rooney (15) ,Brian McManus (77) ,Ryan Brennan (79) ,Michael O'Connor (84) Michael Barker (90).
Referee: David Dunne.
extratime.com Player of the Match: Harvey O’Brien (UCD).