UCD went top of the First Division with a richly-deserved South Dublin Derby win over Pat Devlin’s Cabinteely side at the UCD Bowl on Friday evening as goals from Georgie Kelly, Yoyo Mahdy and Gary O’Neill sealed the deal for Collie O’Neill’s men.
In a solid, yet unremarkable start to the First Division for the Students and having picked up 10 points from a possible 12, it seems as if Collie O’Neill’s young guns will be the pacesetters in a promotion race that will undoubtedly go down to the wire come the end of the season.
UCD started the game with one change from their win over Athlone last week as Greg Sloggett missed out on the inaugural South Dublin Derby of the First Division season in place of Paul Doyle while Pat Devlin rang the changes with his Cabinteely side as Dean Casey, Kevin Knight and Jack Watson all came in, in place of Kaleem Simon, Paul Fox and Conor Earley.
Starting off strong, UCD saw their attacking plays stifled by a Cabinteely back five that looked ready to soak up all that the Students were about to throw at them, emphasised by a crunching early tackle by Conor Keeley.
However, UCD took the lead shortly after as a ball from Paul Doyle in the UCD engine room pierced through a flat Cabinteely defensive line to find Georgie Kelly who duly obliged to finish from short range and put the Students in front.
Cabinteely rallied but found themselves scrambling after a Gary O’Neill corner kick nearly found a UCD head in the 18-yard box as the Students threatened once again.
Cabinteely could have found themselves even further behind if it wasn’t for a fantastic save from net-minder Stephen McGuinness who somehow clawed a looping Jason McClelland header onto his crossbar. Kelly tapped in from the rebound afterwards but was deemed offside by the linesman.
And just shortly after that, Kieran Marty Waters saw his free-kick crash into the wall before he collided with UCD midfielder Paul Doyle in an unfortunate coming together between the pair which resulted in the end of Doyle’s involvement for the night at least.
Down to ten men for a brief spell, Cabinteely seized the initiative and were perhaps unfortunate not to find themselves level after a mix up in the UCD penalty area saw Cabo go close.
In truth, the game did go slightly stale as both sides began cancelling each other out as half-chances were the order of the day at the UCD Bowl for the mid-way period of the first half, with chances going either way.
As the half drew to a rather quiet close, Yoyo Mahdy pounced on some sloppy Cabinteely defending at the edge of the box to fire past a helpless Stephen McGuinness in the Cabinteely goal as the “Students” went in at half-time ahead by two goals to nil, despite some rallying efforts from Pat Devlin’s wounded side.
The second half began similar enough to that of the first half and it was UCD who had the first shot in ager as Gary O’Neill saw his speculative 30-yard effort cannon off against Kevin Knight in the Cabinteely rear-guard. From the resulting corner, Cabinteely broke at speed, but Kieran Marty was adjudged to have been offside.
In the next notable opportunity to present itself, Maxi Kouogun saw himself given the freedom of Belfield as he flashed a great opportunity wide of Stephen McGuinness’ goal.
College had further opportunities to extend their rather comfortable lead as Timmy Molloy went close twice in the space of as many minutes, having been let down by a poor touch in his first of two opportunities.
After an incisive UCD break away, Karl Byrne saw red as he pulled down a galloping Yoyo Mahdy who looked all but set to pull the trigger at the edge of the Cabinteely area. From the resulting free-kick, UCD captain Gary O’Neill saw his curling effort just deflect wide.
College extended their lead in the 66th minute as O’Neill saw his searching free-kick into the Cabinteely six-yard box creep its way past a raft of bodies in the Cabinteely box as a despairing Stephen McGuinness in the Cabinteely goal looked on once again.
However, Cabinteely did see their efforts rewarded as a flick-on from a Dean Casey corner found the head of Jack Watson who duly obliged to head home and give the travelling Cabinteely support something to cheer about.
Cabinteely were on top for the last few minutes as Conor Kearns and his UCD rear-guard looked extremely suspect under the high ball from Dean Casey’s corner kick deliveries, but it was too little too late for Pat Devlin’s men.
UCD were well-deserved 3-1 victors over a Cabinteely side who only got going in the last fifteen minutes of the game as they now head into a crucial trip away to Cobh Ramblers as they begin to test their mettle as First Division title favourites for the time being. Cabo will be hoping to improve as they host Drogheda next Friday after their trip to Dalymount Park in the EA Sports Cup this Monday.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Daniel Tobin, Liam Scales, Maxi Kouogun, Josh Collins, Paul Doyle (Yoyo Mahdy, 26), Daire O'Connor (Kevin Coffey, 71), Gary O'Neill, Georgie Kelly, Timmy Molloy, Jason McClelland (Conor Crowley, 90)
Subs not used: Carl Williams, Darragh Corcoran, Jack Ryan, Ben Hanrahan.
Yellow Cards: None.
Sent Off: None.
Cabinteely: Stephen McGuiness; Karl Byrne, Conor Keeley (Kieran Butler, 71), Kevin Knight; Andy O’Reilly (Owen Morgan, 59), Jack Watson, Aaron Robinson, Dean Casey, Sean Bregazzi; Joe Doyle (Kaleem Simon, 40), Kieran Marty Waters.
Subs not used: Finn McGowan, Keith Dalton, Stephen Ball, Michael Scott.
Yellow Cards: Aaron Robinson (52).
Sent Off: Karl Byrne (63).
Referee: Alan Patchell.
Attendance: 250 (Estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Gary O’Neill (UCD).