Andrew Dempsey reports from the UCD Bowl
UCD produced a late, late show to upstage Cork City and secure all three points at a windswept UCD Bowl on Monday evening.
Gary O’Neill’s late spot kick was enough to secure the win for the Students after Yoyo Mahdy levelled proceedings following Sean McLoughlin’s opener in the first-half.
This was the first meeting of the pair since October 2014 when the Leesiders came out on top in a rather comfortable four-nil success over the Students who eventually succumbed to relegation in November.
Both sides came into the game off the back of disappointing results last time out. UCD were bested by a streetwise Derry City while Cork were pegged back late on by St Patrick’s Athletic at Turners Cross on Friday evening.
With the games coming thick and fast for both sides, it was always going to be inevitable that there was going to be a degree of rotation from Collie O’Neill and John Caulfield respectively. The Students made one change while Cork opted for four swaps themselves.
It was a sloppy opening from UCD as the recently introduced Paul Doyle was caught easily in possession by Garry Buckley. However, Conor Kearns was on hand to save well from Buckley’s early sighter.
Cork sensed an unease in UCD from that moment on and looked to press the Students at every possible opportunity, but they were unable to punish any lapse in the Dubliners rear-guard.
In truth, the game experienced what you would call a major lull for the majority of the opening period, with the UCD stadium announcer’s call for the assistance of the Cork City team bus driver causing some ironic jeers from those in attendance at the Bowl.
However, it was shortly after that when Cork took the lead through a Sean McLoughlin poke home in the 35th minute after Shane Griffin’s set piece caused mayhem in the UCD penalty area.
The goal was the Students third goal conceded from a set piece in as many days as the Belfield outfit were caught napping under the high ball.
Collie O’Neill’s side looked to bounce back immediately, and they almost did within the space of thirty seconds. Firstly, Jason McClelland found the head of Nel Farrugia, but McNulty saved well.
Josh Collins then went close but the Cork ‘keeper saved smartly again as UCD looked to get back on terms just before the break as Gary O’Neill’s corner looked to cause all sorts of danger.
The opening of the second period with little to no event. John Caulfield’s charges continued their relentless pressing of Collie O’Neill’s side with Yoyo Mahdy cutting a figure of frustration at the Clonskeagh end of the ground.
UCD’s first shot on target in the second half came in the 67th minute through Timmy Molloy, but the 24-year-old was unable to squeeze his effort home.
The 2018 First Division champions then had a great chance to level the game with fifteen minutes to go but Farrugia’s headed effort looped over the Cork goal.
The Students were handed a lifeline late on as Garry Comerford was dismissed for a late challenge on the influential Farrugia. The former Waterford man was already on a yellow, but referee Ben Connolly opted for a straight red card.
UCD were not be denied however as Mahdy smacked home a shot from outside the box that McNulty should have really saved in the 85th minute, however, more was to come from the Students.
With seconds to go, Gary O’Neill went on a slaloming run before taken down by Matthew Gillam before the Tralee native stepped up to slot past McNulty to secure all three points for UCD.
UCD must now dust themselves off for a trip to Dalymount Park to face Bohemians while Cork will also be hoping to avenge their most recent Munster Derby defeat to Waterford FC back in February at the RSC next.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Daniel Tobin, Mark Dignam (Conor Davis, 82), Liam Scales, Josh Collins; Paul Doyle, Neil Farrugia, Gary O’Neill, Timmy Molloy (Richie O’Farrell, 72), Jason McClelland (Sean McDonald, h/t); Yoyo Mahdy.
Subs not used: Gavin Sheridan, Evan Farrell, Darragh Corcoran, Luke Boore.
Booked: Daniel Tobin (32)
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Conor McCarthy, Sean McLoughlin, Daniel Casey, Shane Griffin; Gary Boylan (Darragh Crowley, h/t), Gearoid Morrissey, Garry Buckley, Garry Comerford; James Tilley (Daniel Smith, 89), Graham Cummins (Matthew Gillam, 54).
Subs not used: Tadgh Ryan, Darragh Rainsford, Kevin O’Connor, Pierce Philips, Daniel Smith.
Booked: Garry Comerford (42), Gearoid Morrissey (73).
Sent Off: Garry Comerford (77).
Referee: Ben Connolly.
Attendance: 500 (Estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary O’Neill (UCD).