Andrew Dempsey reports from the UCD Bowl
UCD have successfully negated past the challenge of Leinster Senior League kingpins Crumlin United thanks to a 4-1 win.
Gareth Brady gave the visitors an early second half lead, profiting from a goalkeeping mistake before a goal from Dara Keane levelled the game minutes later.
Man of the match Richie O’Farrell then popped up with a brace to give the Premier Division strugglers the win as captain Paul Doyle added the gloss to a handsome scoreline late on.
The Students opted for a near full-strength side for the visit of Crumlin United to the UCD Bowl, with Maciej Tarnogrodzki only making three changes from the defeat on Friday evening at home to Sligo Rovers.
Martin Loughran’s side that lined out had plenty of previous League of Ireland experience – with the likes of Craig Walsh, Dean Kelly and Jack Memery all once of National League sides.
For a game that was 218 days in the making, there was a quick start to proceedings – with Yoyo Mahdy seeing his effort hit the side-netting after some good play on the edge of the penalty area found the former Limerick youngster.
However, it was Crumlin who ought to have taken the lead shortly after. Former Longford Town midfielder Craig Walsh got in on the counter-attack, but he was thwarted by Conor Kearns who stood tall to save.
The next opportunity came with just under ten minutes played, with Republic of Ireland under-21 international Liam Scales seeing his half-volley crash off the bar from a Jason McClelland corner-kick.
UCD, who have conceded a leaky 72 goals in the Premier Division this term, were very fortunate to not find themselves behind after being caught out on the break from a Conor Murphy pass from deep.
Murphy found Dean Kelly, who engineered a one-on-one with Kearns, but the former Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians forward put the ball wide – despite it looking easier to score than miss.
After a rip-roaring start to the game, proceedings began to calm down a little – with Maciej Tarnogrodzki’s side imposing their possession based game on their Leinster Senior League counterparts.
Despite that, the visitors remained a threat on the break – with the attacking duo of Walsh and Kelly both proving troublesome for a composed UCD back-line as the sides went in scoreless at the break.
While both sides had their chances in the opening period, the first ten minutes of the second half saw a remarkable two goals scored – one on each side that stemmed from mistakes.
Kearns’ ball to Farrell was cut out by Liam Brady – before he found his brother Gareth who was to make no mistake just inside the penalty area to give the Blues a shock lead.
However, their advantage was not to last long – as Dara Keane levelled for UCD moments later with a rather fortuitous finish.
Keane’s press on an attempted Michael Quinn cleared was blocked down by the College midfielder – who then passed into an empty net to level the tie.
UCD then took the lead with just over twenty remaining, as Richie O’Farrell turned home an excellent move for the hosts.
The Republic of Ireland under-19 international dinked the ball over Quinn in the visitor’s goal to round off a fine move that saw Mark Dignam and Jason McClelland combine well in the middle thirds.
Bad went to much worse for Loughran’s side minutes later as O’Farrell grabbed his second of the night with a well-taken finish at the back post.
The 19 year old, whose birthday was on Thursday, made no mistake after the ball was fed into his path after some lovely play on the edge of the box.
Tarnogrodzki’s side played out the rest of the game with a sense of composure and calmness to their play – with Paul Doyle adding the gloss to a strong final half hour showing from the Students.
They will now face Athlone Town in next week’s quarter-final on Monday evening at Lissywoolen as a result of their win over Loughran’s Blues.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Liam Scales, Dan Mullen (Luke Boore, 64), Evan Farrell, Mark Dignam; Richie O'Farrell, Jason McClelland (Ciaran Behan, 83), Jack Keaney, Dara Keane, Paul Doyle; Yousef Mahdy (Sam Byrne, 69).
Subs not used: Tom Murphy, Harry McEvoy, Danu Kinsella Bishop, Dan Tobin.
Sent off: None.
Crumlin United: Michael Quinn; David Fagan, Blair Mandiangu, Jack Memery, Calvin Rogers; Gareth Brady (Alan McGreal, 76), Liam Brady (Gingi Aki, 76), James Lee (Jamie Henderson, 89), Craig Walsh; Dean Kelly, Conor Murphy.
Subs not used: Jake Donnelly, Thomas Hyland, Adam Kenny, Jonathan Donaghue.
Booked: Conor Murphy (52), James Lee (61).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Oliver Moran.
Attendance: 150 (Estimate).
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Richie O’Farrell (UCD).