Andrew Dempsey reports from the UCD Bowl
Sligo Rovers saw off a laboured and strikingly pedestrian UCD with a goal from Dante Leverock before David Cawley saw his corner go straight into the net with ten to play.
The Students were dominated throughout the ninety and deserved little from the game with an alert Bit O’Red punishing an off-colour performance from the Belfield side.
Both sides made some big-name changes with the Students seeing captain Gary O’Neill drop to the bench. Full back Evan Farrell also made his League of Ireland debut in place of Daniel Tobin for Collie O’Neill’s side.
Liam Buckley opted for three changes with Ronan Murray falling to the bench along with Sam Warde as Niall Morahan, Kris Twardek and Jack Keaney all came into the starting eleven for the Bit O’Red.
Sligo started the game the better of the two sides at the UCD Bowl as the Students looked lethargic both in and out of possession early on with plenty of misplaced passes.
David Cawley forced the first save of the game from Conor Kearns after ten minutes after some good Sligo pressing with the confident 21-year-old keeper saving with ease.
UCD’s first shot on target came after almost twenty minutes with Conor Davis’ free-kick forcing a good save from Mitchell Beeney. Ex-Sligo underage player Paul Doyle’s corner failed to produce any danger of not after Davis’ effort.
The Students began to slowly build their way into the game, but it was Liam Buckley’s side that created the next opportunity. Regan Donelon found the head of Romeo Parkes who couldn’t fire past a static UCD ‘keeper.
College and the Bit O’Red largely failed to inspire the masses at the UCD Bowl in a game that was played at a testimonial pace throughout the opening period. Davis troubled Beeney late on with a speculative effort but apart from that nothing really happened late on in the half.
The opening ten minutes of the second half was arguably far more action packed than the opening period, not that it was all that difficult. Parkes fed in the lively Coughlan who forced a good low save from Kearns, albeit fairly routine.
Capitalising on a poor sense of set-piece organisation for the Students, Sligo took the lead through Dante Leverock early on in the half. Donelon’s corner was met at the back post by Twardek who unconventionally put the ball back into danger where Leverock was on hand to poke home.
With the game seeming to be seeping away from the Students, Collie O’Neill brought on his fellow namesake Gary in an attempt to change the tide somewhat before also introducing Yoyo Mahdy midway through the second period.
Collie O’Neill’s side failed to make any headway and it was Sligo who looked the more likely to score a second, and they very nearly did through Parkes who caught the eye of many in the capital.
If it was not Parkes who looked like he would seal the deal for Rovers, it was also very possible that the insurance goal would come from a set-piece and that it did.
Parkes won the corner before Cawley set himself up for the set-play. The midfielder’s corner then somehow found its way into the back of Conor Kearns net with many questions to ask about the Students defensive set up.
UCD pushed for a consolation but were devoid of any real creativity. Richie O’Farrell saw his golden opportunity go wide late on which all but summed up their night.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Josh Collins, Evan Farrell (Sean McDonald, 79), Richie O'Farrell, Liam Scales; Kevin Coffey (Yousef Mahdy, 69), Mark Dignam, Paul Doyle, Neil Farrugia; Conor Davis, Timmy Molloy (Gary O'Neill, 66).
Subs not used: Darragh Corcoran, Jason McClelland, Gavin Sheridan, Dan Tobin.
Sligo Rovers: Mitchell Beeney; Lewis Banks, Regan Donelon, Dante Leverock, John Mahon; David Cawley, John Dunleavy, Jack Keaney; Rónán Coughlan (Ronan Murray, 58), Romeo Parkes, Kris Twardek (Liam Kerrigan, 88).
Subs not used: Daryl Fordyce, Luke McNicholas, Niall Morahan, Brian Morley, Sam Warde.
Booked: John Dunleavy (12), Jack Keaney (40), John Mahon (41).
Referee: Sean Grant.
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Romeo Parkes (Sligo Rovers).