Patrick O Connor reports from the UCD Bowl
UCD propelled themselves to the top of the First Division by picking up all three points in a five-goal thriller against Treaty United at the Belfield Bowl.
This game had all the ingredients for a cracking match, two top four sides coming together, both sides sharing the best defensive records in the division, the hosts UCD having scored 18 goals in their first six games and the novelty of the very first clash between these two teams.
The game certainly lived up to its billing with UCD finally coming out on top on a 3-2 score line although they were made to work extremely hard for the victory.
The Limerick side dominated the opening and closing fifteen mins of the match but in-between UCD showed why they are the current table toppers with a scintillating display of football, moving the ball very well from defence through midfield into the attack and scoring three well worked goals in a powerful 10-minute display either side of half time.
Treaty United made little of the bus trip up the M7 motorway as they were quick out of the blocks, putting the hosts on the back foot for most of the opening phases of play.
Left winger Dean George on the left wing was a constant threat for Treaty and he gave UCD right back Evan Weir many anxious moments while also combining well with his strike partner Kieran Hanlon.
Hanlon, known to Treaty supporters as ‘Red’ Hanlon, is a traditional robust centre forward and he caused a lot of trouble to the student’s defence and was instrumental in creating the opening goal, being fouled in the box by UCD keeper Lorcan Healy in the 11th minute.
Treaty number ten Sean McSweeney coolly slotted home the penalty to give Tommy Barrett’s side the lead they deserved.
UCD settled into their own pattern of play after the early setback however and after their first attempt on goal in the 14th minute, a shot that Colm Whelan lifted over the bar from inside the box, they began to dominate the game with Sean Brennan and Paul Doyle hugely influential in the engine room of midfield.
UCD tried hard to get sharpshooter Colm Whelan free but every time he got the ball he was surrounded by at least two if not three Treaty defenders, and then, very much against the run of play, Treaty got a second goal.
UCD keeper Healy needlessly came of his line in the 36th minute and when a ball broke to Hanlon on the right touch-line he spotted the opportunity to lob Healy from all of thirty metres, a great goal to leave it 2-0 in favour of the visitors.
Andy Myler’s side did pull one back in the 44th minute, no more than they deserved, Dara Keane taking advantage of the Limerick’s side focus on Whelan to get free in the box and finish off Brennan’s pass for a good goal.
UCD started the second half in a very positive fashion, and despite two early attempts from Treaty, a shot from McSweeney and a header that came back off the bar from Hanlon, their dominance paid off with two goals in quick succession.
Whelan made a driving run into the Treaty box in the 51st minute before laying off a good pass to the supporting Brennan and the livewire midfielder gave Tadhg Ryan no chance with his shot to the bottom left-hand corner of the goals.
The hosts mounted another attack immediately after the resumption and in the 54th minute defender Harvey O Brien found himself in the opponent’s box and when the ball fell kindly to him he crashed home a third goal for the students.
Barrett made three substitutions heading into the final quarter of the match and it certainly had the desired effect in terms of wresting back control from UCD.
They bombarded the UCD goal in the last ten minutes winning numerous frees and corner kicks but they lacked a bit of guile in front of goal and were unable to unsettle the UCD defence. There were some scary moments for the students however, none more so than when Mark Ludden blazed just over the bar in the 80th minute and again in the 90th minute when another close-range shot hit the butt of the post before being cleared.
Overall UCD deserved their three points although they were made to work very hard for them by the newcomers from Limerick.
UCD now top the table on goal difference, ahead of Shelbourne who are on the same 15 points total, while Treaty drop out of the top four into fifth position.
UCD: Lorcan Healy (gk), Evan Weir, Sam Todd ©, Harvey O Brien, Liam Kerrigan, Dara Keane, Eoin Farrell, Paul Doyle, Mark Dignam (Luke Boore,92), Sean Brennan, Colm Whelan.
Subs not used: Carl Williams (gk); Evan Farrell, Ciaran Behan, Michael McHugh, Adam Verdon, Adam Lennon, Donal Higgins, Danu Kinsella Bishop.
Booked: Evan Weir (41)
Treaty United: Tadgh Ryan(gk); Charlie Fleming, Mark Ludden, Clyde O Connell, Jack Lynch, Callum MacNamara, Edward McCarthy (Alan Murphy ,54), Matt Keane (Joe Collins ,62), Dean George (Shane Lowth, 62), Sean McSweeney, Kieran Hanlon (Matthey McKevitt).
Subs not used: Shane Cusack(gk); Edmond O Dwyer, William Armshaw, Adam Foley.
Booked: Jack Lynch (29), Tadgh Ryan (78).
Referee: David Keeler
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Paul Doyle (UCD)