A New season and new faces aplenty in this South Dublin derby between Cabinteely and UCD. Despite many new players on show, this game had an air of familiarity both on the pitch and indeed on both benches. This was set up to be a tense encounter and so it proved.
Both teams started at a frenetic pace and while both displayed some neat passing, nobody was able to establish any kind of meaningful possession in the opening quarter hour. One standout piece of play saw Simon Power carry the ball from deep inside his own half, coasting past four Cabo defenders before seeing his tame shot pushed wide by Michael Kelly in the Cabinteely goal.
Once the game settled down, it played out in what was a familiar pattern between these local rivals last season. Collie O’Neill’s young side had an extra man in the middle of the park and grew in confidence as the half wore on. Shorn of a number of regulars due to Collingwood Cup commitments, the younger students begun to take a handle on proceedings as the half progressed and had chances through Power and Cian Kavanagh.
Cabinteely, who themselves had a number of new faces were not as effective in possession, but were showing different qualities to last season through the experience of additions such as Daire Doyle and Kieran Marty Waters.
However it was one of their old boys who had their best chance of the first half. The ball sat up for Anthony Dolan just outside the box, and while the connection was good, the shot sailed high and wide.
The opening goal, when it came, was simplicity itself. Conor Crowley floated a cross into the box from the left side. The home side failed to clear and Simon Power finished clinically from just outside the 6 yard box. It was just reward for the Students who had looked the likeliest throughout the half.
Cabinteely showed signs of frustration and Waters was lucky not to see a card of any colour following a studs up challenge in the middle of the park. In the following minutes both sides saw yellow before Alan Carey brought a close to an intriguing opening 45 minutes of the season.
The second saw a considerable drop in pace. Cabinteely tweaked their shape and this took the Students out of their rhythm. They no longer held the advantage in the middle of the park as Cabinteely found a foothold as they finally negated the space that UCD were finding via the extra man in midfield. The home team showed much more endeavour however UCD were still dangerous on the counter.
On 64 minutes Kieran Marty Waters went down on the edge of the UCD area. No free was given and the away team transitioned from defence to attack at breakneck speed. In two passes, Power was released down the right flank. His through ball found Robert Manley but his shot was parried by Michael Kelly in the Cabo goal, before the danger was cleared.
Chances were few and far between for the rest of the game. Cabinteely huffed and puffed but couldn’t find the equaliser. Time and again their final ball wasn’t good enough to pick apart the UCD defence. Despite this, they almost levelled with their best chance of the 90 minutes on the 90. College surrendered possession in midfield and with one pass Aaron Robinson was through one on one with Conor O’Donnell, but his effort was straight at the advancing keeper and the chance was gone.
In the end Cabinteely will feel they deserved a draw. While there is still much settling in to do for the new recruits, Pat Devlin will know his charges will face much more difficult opposition in Stradbrook this season.
For Collie O’Neill, this will have been a very satisfying win over his former colleague’s new club. His young team led by captain Maxi Kouogun, showed steel that belied their years to grind out an opening day victory as well as providing a glimpse at the future players around which UCD will seek to compete for promotion.
Cabinteely: Michael Kelly; Karl Byrne (Michael Scott 75), Adam Harney, Conor Kealy, Kevin Knight; Daire Doyle (Christian Lotefa), Evan Galvin, Anthiny Dolan, Kieran, Marty Waters; Joe Doyle, Aaron Robinson (Jack Watson 81)
Subs not used: Dean Mahon, Victor Ekanem, Steven Ball, Paul Fox
Booked: Anthony Dolan, Kevin Knight
UCD: Conor O’Donnell; Darragh Corcoran, Evan Osam, Maxi Kouogon, Joe Manley; Conor Crowley, Simon Power, Cian Kavanagh, Neil Farrugia (Sean McDonald); Robert Manley, Jack Ryan.
Subs not used: Evan Farrell, Mark Dignam, Andy O’Reilly, Conor Kearns, Yousef Mahdy, Sean Quinn
Booked: Cian Kavanagh
Referee: Alan Carey
Attendance: 500 (Estimate)
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Simon Power (UCD)