A wonder strike from David McMillan sealed an emphatic win for UCD over a Cork City side that failed to perform at Belfield on Friday night.
With both sides looking to improve on difficult first halves to the season, it was UCD who got the start they wanted with an opening goal after just 35 seconds. UCD broke down the left and when the ball was cut back from the byeline Robbie Creevy stabbed it goalwards. His effort was well blocked Darren Dennehy but David McMillan was on hand to jab in the loose ball from close range.
And the Students might have extended their lead after ten minutes when good work by Gary Burke and McMillan set up Sean Russell for a shot that beat the City keeper, Mark McNulty, but was cleared off the line by Dennehy.
UCD had looked the better team throughout the opening fifteen minutes but thereafter it was the visitors who took control of the game.
Daryl Horgan started to demonstrate why he is considered one of the league’s most promising young players and the left side pairing of Gearoid Morrissey and Danny Murphy began to get forwards with more intent.
City also benefitted from the hard work of Daryl Kavanagh who was always available to receive the ball at his feet, a far more effective route forwards than the high balls that had peppered the opening exchanges.
Daryl Horgan flicked a header on target on 22 minutes but it lacked the pace to trouble McGinley in the UCD goal, and Shane Duggan volleyed over the bar when well placed. But for all City’s possession they failed to extend McGinley, a point underlined when John Dunleavy met a corner at the back post two minutes from half-time but failed to hit the target with a weak effort.
The second half began in a more even handed manner with both sides trading half chances until, in the 53rd minute, David McMillan doubled UCD’s lead with an incredible strike from all of 35 yards that came out of nowhere and rocketed over McNulty and into the Cork goal.
One could sense the morale slowly seeping out of the Cork team and when Danny Furlong shot wastefully wide on 63 minutes it served almost as a concession speech. UCD, by contrast, were becoming ever more brazen, shooting at will and looking ever more dangerous. It was almost inevitable that they would score again.
With 70 minutes played substitute Samir Belhout lined up a corner from the left and delivered it to the back post when Hugh Douglas headed home from six yards. The simplicity of it was damning.
The final twenty minutes were unremarkable, each side fulfilling their obligations, but the result was not in question. There were impressive long range efforts from Benson and McMillan, while Gearoid Morrissey jinked between a trio of tackles but then fired high over the UCD goal.
The final whistle brought joy for the Students and optimism for the coming months, while for Cork it signaled nothing less than a crisis.
UCD: Mark McGinley; Gareth Matthews, Hugh Douglas, David O’Connor, Mark Langtry; Gary Burke (Samir Belhout 68), Robbie Benson (Barry McCabe 81), James Kavanagh, Robbie Creevy, Sean Russell; David McMillan.
Subs not used: Ger Barron, Liam Traynor, Craig Walsh, Tyrone McNelis, Dinny Corcoran.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Neal Horgan, Garry Buckley, Darren Dennehy, Danny Murphy; Daryl Horgan (Ian Turner 74), John Dunleavy, Shane Duggan, Gearoid Morrissey; Danny Furlong, Daryl Kavanagh (Denis Behan 67).
Subs not used: Kevin Burns, Kalen Spillane, Stephen Kenny, Adam Rundle, John Kavanagh.
Booked: Dennehy (60), Murphy (78), Dunleavy (89).
Referee: Adriano Reale.
Extratime Man of the Match: David McMillan (UCD).