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U19 Report: Finn Harps 1 - 2 UCD

Match Report thanks to Stephen JoyceSSE-Airtricity-League

UCD AFC U19s side travelled north in anticipation of a huge struggle in overcoming Finn Harps on their own turf. In the previous round, Simon Power's solitary goal for UCD beat Derry City at home in a tight game, while Finn Harps U19s journeyed the length of Ireland and dealt a hammer-blow to all-conquering Cork City with a 3-1 win at Bishopstown. First team striker BJ Banda with a first half hat-trick did the damage and with home advantage placed the Donegal men in a strong position in this semi-final.

The weather brought heavy rain and a changing wind, with both sides having adjusting to the conditions. In an even first half, Karl Skinner in the UCD goal and captain Josh Collins marshalled the defence to keep the real treat of BJ Banda and the Finn Harps strike-force at bay. At the other end, UCD brought the game to the home side with Rob Manley, Simon Power, Andy O'Reilly, Conor Crowley and Sean Byrne creating passing movements and headlong runs on the wings to keep the Finn harps defence on the back foot. Harps conceded a number of free-kicks in their own half, but their defence dealt with the threat or Harps 'keeper Tommy Lee McCarron tidied up at the back. UCD pressure eventually told with a beautiful passing movement started by Byrne just inside the Harps half-way line, the ball going out to the right wing before returning to Byrne on the edge of the box who had time to pick his spot and struck home leaving McCarron with no chance. The Students went in at half time much the happier.

The opening period of the second half UCD kept a grip on the game, forward runners keeping Finn Harps occupied and more than once had a chance to double the lead. But the heavy conditions took their toll and one by one Players were substituted, a lung-bursting run by Rob Manly on the left-wing epitomised the heart of this UCD side, his drove on into the penalty box, went by a defender and his centred pass was just too short for O'Reilly.
Finn Harps got more and more chances, winning corners and keeping Skinner busy. With Manager Ian Ryan having made all five substitutions with a few minutes left on the clock, Aaron Robinson went down under a heavy challenge from a Finn harps player who received a booking. Robinson had to limp from the pitch and UCD carried on with 10 men. But another corner saw sub Simon McGlynn equalise.

One last effort from The Students couldn't prevent extra time and with both sides tiring, Harps may have felt they had the advantage. UCD Players sought more sources of strength. As they again, with a man disadvantaged carried the game to Finn Harps, subs like Cian Ryan and Rob McGee running at the home defence. Half-time of extra time was reached with UCD the better side. More was to follow and after Andy Brennan had made a run on the right wing taking on FIVE outfield players and winning a corner, he did much the same but other UCD players were in support this time and Brennan's cross and tucked home brilliantly by McGee. Huge relief spilt out over McGee as the celebrations on the dug-out carried onto the field.

But the job wasm't finished and UCD had to be at their best to see out the game and deservedly reach the league Final. This was a majestic performance where The Students raised their game each time they got hit with a blow, it showed great character and spirit to come back and win the game in extra time in horrendous conditions.

UCD AFC U19s: Karl Skinner, Kevin Coffey, Darragh Corcoran, Josh Collins (c), Joe Manly, Aaron Robinson, Simon Power (Rob McGee), Andy O'Reilly (Gareth Coughlan), Robert Manly (Andy Brennan), Conor Crowley (Shane Whelan), Sean Byrne (Cian Ryan)

National League Final Details: UCD AFC vs Galway United, 5pm, UCD Bowl, Saturday 22nd October