UCD AFC played out a 1-1 draw with Dundalk FC in the Bowl on Friday night.
Airtricity League Premier Division
Firday 22nd June
UCD AFC 1-1 Dundalk FC
Benson 49' Griffin 34'
By Peter Branigan
UCD pushed Dundalk all the way in securing a 1-1 draw at the UCD Bowl on Friday. The Students had more possession throughout but fell behind to a well-taken goal by Mark Griffin. UCD were the better team throughout however and equalised after half-time.
This was UCD’s first home league game in over a month and the lay of the land has changed somewhat since the end of May. Since the visit of Sligo Rovers, Monaghan United have regrettably become the seventh club since the turn of the Millennium to have to leave the league due to a lack of adequate financial resources. It’s a sad state of affairs when Irish fans can travel in their tens-of-thousands across Europe to support a poor Irish side, but that most clubs in the league would struggle to even get a thousand supporters at home games. Irish fans must make the connection between a strong national league, and results in international competition.
The game on Friday night was a battle between the bottom two with all of the results against Monaghan up to this point having to be voided. UCD started the game with more of the possession and they had their first chance, in a scrappy affair, after ten minutes. Dean Clarke played a good ball into Robbie Benson but the winger’s effort was weak and did not cause too much trouble to Ger Hanley in the Dundalk goal.
At the back, UCD looked solid with captain Mick Leahy making a crucial intervention to prevent Nathan Murphy’s attempted chip pass into Griffin, when the latter was waiting only ten yards from the Students’ net.
Dundalk took the lead in the thirty-fourth minute. The goal came after a spell of UCD pressure and The College will be disappointed in the way the goal was scored. UCD lost the ball in midfield and Dundalk worked it out to Griffin on the right. His cross found Murphy ten yards from goal with no one around to pressure him. His headed finish was excellent but he never should have had the time to pick his spot.
The remainder of the half was scrappy, with UCD still having more of the possession, but neither side created any clear cut chances.
It didn’t take The Students long to draw level in the second half however. After forty-five minutes Cillian Morrison made a great run down the right to win a corner for UCD. Mark Langtry’s cross was met by Paul Corry. His effort was blocked but it fell nicely for Benson whose powerful effort hit the ground first before bouncing up into the top corner. It was no more than UCD deserved.
In the fifty-ninth minute, Dundalk’s Luke Danville was finally booked for another poor challenge. The defender had been overly firm with a few challenges and was lucky not to have been booked sooner.
Ten minutes later, Dundalk had their best chance of the half. Griffin won a free-kick following a poor challenge by Langtry. The free-kick from twenty-five yards out hit the top of the wall. This change of direction deceived John Kelly in the UCD net and the ball only missed the right-hand goal post by inches with Kelly having moved to the left.
In the 76th minute, Danville made another terrible challenge after second-half substitute Chris Lyons had turned him inside out. How the referee deemed it only worthy of a warning and not a card is beyond me. Danville was replaced after Lyons had once more beaten him for pace and forced a save from Hanley. Lyons rounded the keeper but made the angle too tight for himself. He lay the ball back for Langtry to shoot by the wing-back’s effort was always rising.
Dundalk had the last two chances of the game. Griffin received the ball on the edge of the box and forced UCD keeper Kelly, making his senior debut, into a great save before Robert Watts blasted the rebound wide. With three minutes of normal time to go, Griffin released Gary Shanahan in the UCD box but his effort from thirteen yards was poor.
The referee brought an end to proceedings after three minutes of stoppage time. UCD showed character to come back from behind but they will be disappointed not to have pushed on and taken all three points, considering the amount of possession they had. UCD next welcome Derry to UCD Bowl in two weeks.
To see more photos from the game courtesy of Ed Scannell, click here.
UCD AFC: John Kelly, Mark Langtry, Michael Leahy (C), David O’Connor, Ciaran Nangle, Paul O’Conor, Paul Corry, Robbie Benson, Chris Mulhall (Hugh Douglas 75), Dean Clarke (Tyrone McNelis 51), Cillian Morrison (Chris Lyons 72)
Subs not used: Ger Barron, James Kavanagh, Barry McCabe, Samir Belhout.
Dundalk FC: Ger Hanley (Peter Cherrie 27), Derek Foran, Luke Danville (Conor McDonald 82), Liam Burns, Chris Shields (C), John Mountey, Mark Griffin, Paul Walsh, Gary Shanahan, Nathan Murphy (Robert Watts 58), Eoghan Osborne
Subs not used: Dan Cunningham, Shane O’Neill, Peter Thomas, Gerald McSorley.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Dublin)
UCDSoccer.com Man of the Match: Paul Corry (UCD)