Patrick O Connor reports from the Belfield Bowl.
UCD progressed onto the quarter finals stage of the Extra.ie FAI Cup but they had to overcome a very plucky and determined challenge from Longford Town before emerging with a 2-1 win at the Belfield Bowl on Friday night.
The students are playing with a very high degree of confidence in both league and cup competitions this year and should they be paired with any of the five Premier Division teams who will be in the hat for the last eight draw they will still fancy their chances of making it all the way to the semi-final stages, at least.
Longford’s season is now as good as over, out of the Cup and heading for the First Division, they will be playing for pride in their remaining league matches despite mounting a strong challenge in front of their travelling supporters last night.
Daire Doyle’s side actually started the game the better of the two sides, the were camped in the UCD half of the field for most of the opening 25 minutes and created numerous half chances during that period.
Dylan Grimes was very threatening on the right wing and he caused lots of problems for left back Evan Weir, while Conor Davis was very influential in a number 10 role behind striker Dean Williams.
Shamrock Rovers loanee Darragh Nugent had one long range effort go wide in the 12th minute and Davis had a good chance two minutes later but pulled his shot wide of the post.
Williams drew a foul from Adam Verdon for which the UCD player received a yellow card but the free kick, like most of Longford’s efforts during their period of dominance, was scrambled clear by the UCD defence.
Andy Myler’s side began to settle in the latter half of the opening period and they finished the first 45 minutes in control, with Liam Kerrigan, Colm Whelan and in particular Paul Doyle beginning to dictate the course of the match.
UCD began the second half in much more positive fashion and almost took the lead in the 54th minute when Sam Todd’s free kick crashed off the bar before being cleared to safety.
Despite conceding control of the game to UCD, Longford were still very resolute for long periods with Mick McDonnell, Joe Manley and Paddy Kirk all outstanding at the back and offering a very strong resistance to the waves of attacks being mounted by UCD.
Their resistance was finally broken in the 69th minute when Paul Doyle scored from a free kick, the ball going straight to the net through a wall of defenders and keeper Mick Kelly.
Longford really showed their character at this stage though as within two minutes they were back on level terms.
Rob Manley did great work on the left touchline before pulling the ball back for the other Shamrock Rovers loanee Williams to slide the ball past Lorcan Healy in the UCD goals.
Extra time was on the cards up to the 80th minute but one moment of individual brilliance from Colm Whelan settled the tie. Whelan picked up a pass on the edge of the box and having been given a rare moment of respite by the Longford central defenders he unleashed a stunning shot into the top right-hand corner of the net.
The students were never going to relinquish their one goal lead and despite having to withstand some pressure from Longford in the closing minutes they now go into the hat for the quarter final draw which takes place this coming Tuesday at 18:30.
UCD: Lorcan Healy; Evan Weir, Sam Todd, Evan Osam, Harvey O'Brien; Liam Kerrigan, Jack Keaney (c), Paul Doyle, Mark Dignam, Adam Vernon (Dara Keane 67), Colm Whelan
Subs not used: Carl Williams, Luke Boore, Michael Gallagher, Harry McEvoy, Eoin Farrell, Sammy Ayoola, Donal Higgins.
Booked: Adam Verdon (20). Sam Todd (78), Liam Kerrigan (89).
Longford Town: Mick Kelly; Patrick Kirk (Callum Warfield, 82), Michael McDonnell, Joe Manley, Aaron Robinson (Dean Zambra ,72), Aaron O'Driscoll; Dylan Grimes, Rob Manley, Darragh Nugent (Dean Byrne 87), Conor Davis (Aaron Dobbs, 72), Dean Williams,
Subs not used: Lee Stacey; Matthew O’ Brien, Karl Chambers, Aaron McNally, Ben Lynch
Booked: Joe Manley (22), Aaron Robinson (54)
Referee: Adriano Reale
Extratime.com Player of the Match: Paul Doyle (UCD)