Andrew Dempsey reports from the UCD Bowl
Clinical UCD, under the temporary tutelage of Ian Ryan, saw off an incredibly unlucky Cobh Ramblers side 3-1 at the UCD Bowl this evening .
Goals from Georgie Kelly, Kevin Coffey and Liam Scales sealed the deal for the Students as they were significantly aided by the heroics from goalkeeper Conor Kearns, while Anthony McAlevey scored for the Rams.
In a tight but entertaining start, it was UCD who took the lead as an in-swinging ball from the influential Gary O’Neill found the head of the red-hot Kelly who guided the ball home from six yards.
The goal will surely have left Rams boss Stephen Henderson frustrated by the manner in which the goal arrived after their bright start.
Cobh looked to hit back instantly as Cian Leonard saw his wonderfully struck free-kick smash of the crossbar as UCD breathed a huge sigh of relief just minutes after taking the lead.
UCD were next to watch a glorious opportunity escape their grasp as Daire O’Connor saw his golden opportunity skew wide of the helpless Paul Hunt in the Ramblers goal.
In a horrible twist of fate, Ramblers striker Cian Leonard went off injured just before the half hour as his influence was growing in the game, one of many things that went against the Rams.
Cobh’s misfortune continued when they really should have restored parity but, somehow, the Students held out in quite remarkable fashion.
With some glaring opportunities falling by the wayside thanks to some heroic defending by Kearns and his back four, David Hurley saw his header just glance wide in a crazy spell in the 32nd minute.
And with Cobh still threatening, it was of course, the table-toppers who scored the crucial second goal as Kevin Coffey slammed home a rebound from close range.
O’Neill’s initial effort thundered off the crossbar before Coffey showcased his poacher’s instinct as he put the Students two up to the good.
It was a cruel moment for Cobh who were more than deserving of at least a draw as the half-time whistle approached.
Denzil Fernandes’s close-range effort just about smacked off the wrong side of the post before going wide to compound Henderson’s misery.
Cobh really should halved the deficit as Hurley saw his fantastic effort thunder off the crossbar as the Rams looked determined to grab the next goal, which was pivotal in the course of the game.
UCD once again survived an intense flurry of Cobh attacks as Kearns and his back four escaped with a brief moment of respite as it wasn’t looking to be Cobh’s night
However, with everything seeming to be going against Ramblers, they were granted a lifeline as McAlavey’s sensational strike found Conor Kearns’ net.
Hurley fed the ball into the feet of McAlavey to give the Rams a chance to redeem themselves after they saw fantastic opportunities fall by the wayside.
But in tandem with the overall proceedings, UCD put the result beyond all doubt just before the hour as Scales nodded home an O’Neill delivery from the corner flag.
There was further drama to come as Jason McClelland looked to have been hauled down intentionally in the Ramblers penalty area for a stonewall penalty but referee Ray Matthews turned away the strong appeals from the Students.
The game died down following the penalty incident as UCD asserted their authority on the game that they wished to close out.
McClelland went close twice in the remaining minutes, but goalkeeper Hunt was equal to what came his way.
Cobh’s James McSweeney almost turned the ball into his own net late on, but his blushes were spared by the alert Hunt, who kept out the danger in the dying embers of the game.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Darragh Corcoran, Josh Collins, Liam Scales, Evan Osam; Paul Doyle, Gary O’Neill, Kevin Coffey; Jason McClelland, Daire O’Connor, Georgie Kelly (Yoyo Mahdy 84).
Subs not used: Gavin Sheridan, Dan Tobin, Mark Dignam, Greg Sloggett, Conor Crowley, Sean McDonald.
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt; Kevin Taylor, Ben O’Riordan, James McSweeney, Adam O’Sullivan; Darren Murphy, David Hurley (Stephen Christopher 84), Pierce Phillips, Denzil Fernandez (Jaze Kabia 84), Anthony McAlavey, Cian Leonard (Andrew Wall 30).
Subs not used: Adam Mylod (gk), Craig Donnellan, Stephen O’Connor, Michael Sadys.
Booked: Andrew Wall (66), David Hurley (69,) Pierce Phillips (90).
Referee: Ray Matthews.
Attendance: 250 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Conor Kearns (UCD).