Andrew Dempsey reports from the UCD Bowl
UCD and Shelbourne played out an entertaining one-one draw at the UCD Bowl on Friday evening as neither side could grab that all important winner on a night of few clear-cut chances in Dublin 4.
Yoyo Mahdy looked to have sealed all three points for Collie O’Neill’s Georgie Kelly-less Students before Derek Prendergast levelled for Shels, who were without suspended manager Owen Heary, seven minutes from time.
In a fast and frenetic opening spell, UCD enjoyed the majority of play as Shelbourne had to ride through an early storm at the Belfield campus.
Greg Sloggett went close for the Students with a glancing header which rolled just wide of Dean Delany’s goal in the 3rd minute.
In the first real opening of the game, Shels really should have take the lead in the 12th minute if it wasn’t for some superb goalkeeping from College netminder, Conor Kearns.
Adam Evans delivered an inch-perfect ball into the path of David O’Sullivan who had the goal at his mercy from just five yards out.
It was a stunning save from the UCD keeper, who really impressed throughout the 90 minutes in Belfield.
After that near miss for UCD, the game was largely played in the middle of the park with both midfields looking hungry to take control of a rather dull opening half between the two top sides of the First Division.
The next major chance of the half fell to UCD as Jason McClelland saw his low effort dealt with smartly by Delany in the Shels goal.
Mark Hughes looked to have troubled Kearns in the UCD goal, but the former internet sensation dealt with it comfortably after appearing to be in a spot of bother momentarily.
Evans fired his rebound miles over his bar, much to the distain of the vocal Shelbourne support in Belfield.
The second half began as the first finished, with neither side looking especially dangerous from attacking positions.
However, the game was to burst its way into life in eight minutes in as Yoyo Mahdy scored the games opening goal.
After some adventurous play from Daire O’Connor, the Arklow native cut inside the Shelbourne defence to release Mahdy, who coolly slotted his effort into the back of Delany’s net.
It was a well-taken goal from the man who has been handed the unenviable task of picking up from where Georgie Kelly left off.
Shels rallied soon afterwards and they should have levelled quickly after Mahdy’s opener. Firstly, James English saw his strike just whistle over Kearns’ goal before O’Sullivan went close again quickly after as Adam Evans blocked his goal-bound effort after a scramble in the UCD box.
Just moments after a quickfire Shels attack, O’Connor really should have put the result beyond all doubt in the 64th minute as he skewed his great opportunity just wide of the Shels goal.
With time seeming to be running out, Shelbourne got the goal their play merited. After a delightful ball in from Adam Evans in the 83rd minute, Prendergast towered above the UCD defence to nod home the equaliser.
In truth, it was a bolt from the sky as the Reds didn’t look especially threatening from other aspects of their play since Mahdy’s opener.
With their tails up, Shels almost grabbed a late, late winner as Shane Farrell, with the goal at his mercy, skewed his effort wide of the UCD goal.
It was a major let-off for the Students who looked increasingly vulnerable after their late concession, but they hung on for a point that sees them remain four points clear.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Darragh Corcoran, Evan Osam, Liam Scales, Josh Collins; Greg Sloggett, Daire O’Connor (Timmy Molloy, 78), Gary O’Neill, Neil Farrugia, Jason McClelland (Kevin Coffey, 88); Yoyo Mahdy (Sean McDonald, 90+1).
Subs not used: Gavin Sheridan, Dan Tobin, Paul Doyle, Conor Crowley.
Booked: Sean McDonald (90+1), Darragh Corcoran (72).
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; John Ross Wilson, Reece McEnteer, Aidan Collins, Derek Prendergast; Mark Hughes (Cian Kavanagh, 90), Alan Byrne (Jordan Buckley, 72), James English; Adam Evans, Greg Moorhouse (Shane Farrell, 59), David O’Sullivan.
Subs not used: Lee Steacy, Arran Molloy, James O’Brien.
Booked: James English (53).
Referee: Andrew Mullally.
Attendance: 400 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Gary O’Neill (UCD).