Mark Langtry 36' -
There was no fairytale start to life in the top tier for Cork City as UCD got their 2012 campaign off to a great start with a fully deserved three points at the Belfield Bowl.
In a game where chances were seldom created at either end, a first half effort from Mark Langtry was enough to decide the destination of the first set of points up for grabs.
Continuity was a key word in Martin Russell’s programme notes for this game and after keeping the bulk of last year’s squad, they will do just fine throughout the campaign. The College started off with Chris Lyons up front on his own, with five in the middle and it actually paid dividends as it stifled the away side quite well, Cork never really giving Ger Barron a moment to worry.
Indeed, they missed two of their most dangerous attacking threats – Davin O’Neill and Daryl Horgan – through injury and that led to them lining out with a 451 formation too, Colin Healy playing behind lone striker Tadhg Purcell, who was miles off his best before being withdrawn.
The students started well, Danny Ledwith and Chris Mulhall causing some problems in the opening ten minutes but they never really gave City stopper Mark McNulty a moment to worry about until midway through the half. It was City who actually created the first attempt of note, when Ian Turner played to loan signing Purcell.
He passed to the on-rushing Healy, though the former Republic of Ireland midfielder side-footed his strike six inches wide of Ger Barron’s post. Purcell had the goal open up before his eyes two minutes later only to scuff his shot from the edge of the area, never threatening Barron.
Whether it was early season rustiness or a little too much conservative input from the dug-outs, the game became quite scrappy at that point, the ball rarely making it out of the middle third. However the students moved ahead on 36 minutes after some brutal defending from Cork.
The away side failed to clear their lines on two occasions before Chris Mulhall cut in off the left after good work by Ledwith and Lyons. For some strange reason, Shane Duggan just didn’t track him and the winger fed to advanced wing-back Langtry and he finished the job from four yards at the near post.
Purcell was struggling quite a bit for City, a little rusty after spending so much time on the sidelines with injury, and he was guilty of wasting a magnificent chance to equalise four minutes into the second period when Ian Turner squared to him. With plenty of time inside the area, the ball got caught between his legs and the danger was cleared.
The introduction of Vinny Sullivan for Colin Healy in the 59th minute should have given City more of an attacking platform but UCD continued to keep their threat to the minimum. Purcell went off with 18 minutes to go, chants of ‘cheerio’ from the Rebel Army enough to tell you how poor his performance was.
Jamie Murphy came on for him and while he ran hard lines, it was a fruitless task as the supply wasn’t up to scratch during his cameo, though he did have a decent headed attempt which landed onto the roof of the net. Sullivan shot over with seven minutes to play but that was nothing more than a half chance and although UCD barely made it out of their own half, they didn’t exactly have to.
UCD: Ger Barron; Mark Langtry (Barry McCabe 87), David O’Connor, Mick Leahy, Ciaran Nangle; Chris Mulhall, Paul O’Conor, Robert Benson (Dean Clarke 72), James Kavanagh, Danny Ledwith; Chris Lyons.
Subs not used: Hugh Douglas, Ross King, Cillian Morrison, Stephen Doyle, Mark McGinley.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; John Dunleavy, Gavin Kavanagh, Dan Murray, Danny Murphy; Ian Turner, Shane Duggan, Colin Healy (Vinny Sullivan 59), Gearóid Morrissey, Shane O’Connor (Cathal Lordan 77); Tadhg Purcell (Jamie Murphy 72).
Subs not used: Kalen Spillane, Stephen Kenny, John Kavanagh, Kevin Burns.
Bookings: J Murphy (81).
Referee: Padraigh Sutton.
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Robbie Benson (UCD).