Andrew Dempsey reports from Tolka Park
A late, late strike from Timmy Molloy proved to be decisive as his thirty-yard screamer flew into Colin McCabe’s net in the ninetieth minute.
UCD progress into the Quarter-Finals of the EA Sports Cup after going behind early on but Neil Farrugia levelled matters before Molloy’s heroic late strike sent the Students through in dramatic circumstances at Tolka Park.
Safe too say it has not been the ideal start that Shelbourne have been hoping for to their First Division campaign. Lying sixth in the table and with three defeats already, many questions, rightly or wrongly have been pointed at rookie manager Ian Morris.
Morris, only 31, was appointed Shels boss following the abrupt departure of previous manager Owen Heary during the aftermath of their Playoff heartbreak in October 2018.
UCD on the other hand have found the going tough upon their return to the Premier Division. With only one win to their name, coupled with the loss of both Daire O’Connor and Greg Sloggett during the off-season, Collie O’Neill’s side have struggled in terms of results.
While their general play has been quite impressive, many fans and pundits alike have cited their lack of ruthlessness being their achilles heel thus far. The Students have only scored six in seven games, which in comparison to their start last year in the First Division, they already had 11.
This EA Sports Cup clash provided O’Neill and Morris with the ideal opportunity to quell their supporters early season worries with a good showing under the lights at the Richmond Road venue.
Seething from their disappointment in Longford on Saturday evening, Shelbourne went on the front foot and grabbed an early opener through Derek Prendergast.
Lorcan Fitzgerald’s corner was met at the back post by Ryan Brennan who flicked the ball back into danger as the tall centre-half was on hand to head past a helpless Gavin Sheridan in the UCD goal.
The Students looked to respond quickly but Kevin Coffey hit the crossbar before Neil Farrugia, the Irish Under-21 star saw his rasping shot blocked from very close-range with Colin McCabe breathing a sigh of relief.
Shels were next with an opportunity of note but Sheridan saved one on one from James English after Daniel McKenna’s ball split the UCD defence from a deep lying position.
However, Collie O’Neill’s side grew into the game and grabbed a deserved equaliser through Farrugia who slotted past McCabe in the Reds goal just before the half hour mark.
Yoyo Mahdy slipped in the twenty-year-old attacking midfielder who finished well. However, Farrugia’s night was cut short straight after pulling up with what seemed to be a groin issue with Jason McClelland taking his place.
Farrugia’s equaliser was the last real opening of the first-half with both sides stringing together some lovely passages of play, ultimately with no real end product on show in the end.
The second period began in a similar vein to that which saw the first half conclude with neither side able to create a real opening that threatened either ‘keeper in their respective goals.
Oscar Brennan had the first shot on target in the half but Sheridan as more than equal to it as he tipped it over the bar from the edge of the box just on the hour mark at the Richmond Road venue. Ryan Brennan then went close seconds after, but his effort was deflected wide.
The game petered out somewhat after that and with extra time looming Timmy Molloy stepped up with a screamer to save all in attendance from the cold and sent UCD through to the Quarter Finals of the EA Sports Cup.
It was an exceptional strike worthy of winning any game. Shels were denied a late, late equaliser but the ball somehow stayed out of Sheridan’s net.
Shelbourne: Colin McCabe; John Ross Wilson, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Luke Byrne, Derek Prendergast; Oscar Brennan, Daniel McKenna (Sean Quinn, 68), Karl Moore, Ryan Brennan (Darragh Noone, 80), James English; Ciaran Kilduff (Greg Moorehouse, 74).
Subs not used: Dean Delany, Dayle Rooney, Alex O’Hanlon, Flavio Marku.
UCD: Gavin Sheridan; Dan Tobin, Mark Dignam, Liam Scales, Evan Farrell; Paul Doyle (Gary O’Neill, 58), Timmy Molloy, Kevin Coffey (Sean MacDonald, 86), Richie O’Farrell, Neil Farrugia (Jason McClelland, 30); Yoyo Mahdy.
Subs not used: Conor Kearns, Darragh Corcoran, Luke Boore, Josh Collins.
Referee: Alan Patchell.
Attendance: 250 (Estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Timmy Molloy (UCD).