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UCD Bowl | Fri 16th April - KO: 7.45pm

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v Cabinteely

UCD Bowl | Fri 16th April - KO: 7.45pm

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St Patrick's Athletic 2-1 UCD AFC

Airtricity League Premier Division

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC (1)  2 UCD (1)  1thumb_IMG_2968

 

Guthrie 17, 81. Mulhall 22

Richmond Park, Inchicore, Friday 9th July 2010 ko 1945

By Brian de Salvo

Relentless rain in Inchicore.   At the entrance to Richmond Park I am confronted by Cork Tom.   “They’ve watered the pitch!” he pronounces, “The game may be called off!”   The oracle has spoken.

To see Ed Scannell's Pictures of the game, click here.

Fortunately, inside the Stadium of Light, the news is not so negative.   The UCD players are admiring the playing surface, perfect for the kind of football they like to play.   “It’d be nice if it stopped raining before the kick off,” is the only item on the wish list.

Alas, no chance.   The rain continues, indeed increases, during the entire match.   The pitch plays true but it’s increasingly slick leading to what look like serious non contact injuries.

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Bolger is already out injured so, leaving Creevy, who is himself returning after treatment, on the bench, Martin Russell gives a first start to Paul O’Conor.   O’Conor has only two substitute appearances to his credit but clearly learns fast, making an immediate impact in midfield where his enterprise seems to encourage Paul Corry back to form.   At half time the correspondent from extratime.ie is lyrical: “UCD play football the way it should be played and are a joy to watch!”

However, there are two teams taking a shower out there and Pats, whilst perhaps lacking the sophistication of Bohemians, are the real deal, a proper professional football team with the organisation and initiative that goes with that title.   Even stevens at half time may be a fair appraisal of UCD’s contribution to the game but Pats will go on to a deserved victory and reclaim the top of the table during the second half.

The game starts with Paul Byrne, one of three former Students in the Pats starting eleven, slipping and shooting wide after just sixty seconds.   After ten minutes Ryan Guy’s weak header from Lynch’s free kick causes Billy Brennan no anxiety but his bar of soap trick when fielding a high ball on his line sparks a frisson amongst Pats fans.

The home side went ahead after 17 minutes when Cash’s corner from the right got a slight deflection from Nangle, evaded the forward diving Brennan who was grounded when Shane Guthrie judged the bounce well to head home as the ball skidded up off the surface.   Cash was making inroads down the right so it was as well that Nangle was in top form to combat his threat.

IMG_3109Dwayne Wilson, perhaps a little less predictable, was also making an impact for the visitors and he set up the equaliser five minutes later, jinking in from the right to set up Kilduff.   His shot was blocked as was Rusk’s but the ball, travelling west, eventually fell for Chris Mulhall who whacked it past Rogers.

The almost indestructible Brian Shortall has been in the wars lately and his soundness of limb was not helped when Derek Doyle left his foot in after twenty minutes, a foul which gained him a booking.   Shortall soldiered on but five minutes into the second period it was clear he could not continue.   When you lose a player as valuable as Shortall it’s comforting to have another of the quality of Sean Harding to replace him.   Fellow sub Keith Ward set up the replacement full back and his low drive whizzed narrowly wide of Rogers’ right post.

UCD had begun brightly with Kilduff narrowly failing to connect when Wilson instigated a move that allowed Corry to cross from the left.   This was followed by a moment of pinball in the visitors’ goalmouth that highlighted a lack of composure that would ultimately prove fatal.   But when Cash hit a searing drive in from the right, keeper Brennan was quick to leap and divert it over his bar.

Things got worse for UCD a couple of minutes later when Harding, raiding on the right, suddenly pulled up with what looked like a serious knee injury.   Creevy came off the bench into midfield with O’Conor dropping back to become the Student’s third right full of the evening.   Young O’Conor may have been the only participant whose name wasn’t in the programme roll call but he was certainly making his mark on the match.   Another to shine was Keith Ward whose promptings looked like UCD’s main chance of saving the game in the later stages.

But it was Pats who took the points with just nine minutes left.   The UCD defence failed to deal with yet another corner from the left (Pats had 13 corners in all), Brennan made a sharp reflex save from a close range effort but the ball rebounded for Guthrie to net his second header of the evening.   Two goals from a defender from set pieces just as UCD’s defensive pairing scored two headers in similar circumstances against Sporting recently.

Maybe whatever is going on in those packed goalmouths now favours the attacking side, maybe the physical presence of defenders up for these encounters in not being dealt with.   These days the number of goals scored by defenders in such circumstances is starting to look like an important sales point on their cvs.

So UCD go to Sligo on Tuesday after three successive defeats.   It’s an important game, particularly since Rovers have just leap frogged the Students in the table.   Defeat there and the subsequent visit of Bray to the Bowl takes on a different perspective.   The current situation will not have phased the UCD coaching staff, such a dip has been more a probability than a possibility in the first season in the Premier division for this young squad.   It’s how the players respond that counts.   Their talent and attitude are reasons to be cheerful.

So Pats have the points but at some cost.   Mulcahy, like Shortall, was injured in the first half and had to come off in the second.   Connor Kenna was flattened, perfectly legally, by Billy Brennan as he came to punch clear, and completed the match but will be in the treatment room next week.   And, most galling of all, skipper Damien Lynch, with the very last kick of the match and with no opponents near, went over on his ankle and had to be carried to the dressing room with what looked like ligament damage.

Did I mention Lynch’s brother used to play for UCD?   Cork Tom has the details.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Gary Rogers; Derek Pender, Shane Guthrie, Connor Kenna, Damien Lynch; Brian Cash (Vinny Faherty 76), Stuart Byrne, David Mulcahy (David McAllister 61), Derek Doyle; Ryan Guy, Paul Byrne (Danny North 87).

UCD: Billy Brennan; Brian Shortall (Sean Harding 51, Robbie Creevey 70), Evan McMillan, Andy Boyle, Ciaran Nangle; Paul O’Conor, Paul Corry, Chris Mulhall (Keith Wared 61); Dwayne Wilson, Ciaran Kilduff, Graham Rusk.

Referee: Neil Doyle