Dave Donnelly reports from the UCD Bowl
Conor Davis heaped further misery on his former club as he scored within 30 seconds of his introduction to down UCD and help Derry City to third place in the Premier Division.
The Templeogue man left College for the Candystripes at the beginning of last month and he wasted no time reprising the goalscoring form that had once wowed the Belfield faithful.
Davis’ replacement at UCD, Sam Byrne, had opened the scoring with his first goal for the club in the first half but Jamie McDonagh equalised just before the break.
And the Candystripes finally made their second-half pressure count as Davis slotted home from Barry McNamee’s pass before David Parkhouse wrapped up the win a minute from time.
Jack Keaney had been shown second yellow card moments before Parkhouse pounced to compound a bad day for the Students, who slip six points behind Finn Harps at the bottom of the table.
What a week it has been for Declan Devine’s Derry who, just seven days ago, were nursing the effects of a shock defeat to local rivals Finn Harps and the prospect of Bohs stretching the gap.
This time it was Harps doing Derry a favour, beating Bohemians in Ballybofey, which, added to wins over Waterford and UCD, sees the Candystripes move into third on goal difference.
That seemed a somewhat remote possibility when Byrne, in just his second appearance, notched his first goal in the sky blue of UCD just before the half-hour.
A flowing passing move saw Liam Kerrigan release Mark Dignam in the box and the wing-back persisted before squaring to the back post for the former Manchester United trainee to bundle home.
The goal was very much against the run of play as the Candystripes had dominated the ball and created the bulk of the early chances.
Parkhouse should have fired the visitors in front after just 12 minutes as McNamee sprung the offside trap and set the Sheffield United loanee up for a tap-in, but he let the ball roll under his foot.
It wouldn’t be the only let-off the Students had as Eoin Toal saw his header from McNamee’s corner batted away by the excellent reflexes of Gavin Sheridan in the UCD goal.
The goal freed up the Students and they played with a hitherto unshown fluency, and Yoyo Mahdy was unlucky to see his through-ball for Kerrigan just about cut out by Greg Sloggett.
Sloppiness began to creep in once more and Keaney was fortunate McCrudden couldn’t capitalise when he was caught in possession in his own box by Parkhouse.
Still they looked set to make it to half time in front until Gerardo Bruna, who was outstanding in a deep midfield role for Derry, played a wonderous 60-yard pass to the feet on McDonagh.
The winger controlled the ball wonderfully with his first touch, leaving Sheridan committed in no man’s land, and he slotted calmly into the empty net.
Derry continued to dominate but, to their credit, UCD continued to create and Sam Byrne was a touch unfortunate to see his long-range effort veer wide.
Byrne was centrally involved once more as he exchanged passes with Kerrigan before sending Mahdy through but the striker dawdled and Ally Gilchrist got back to block his shot.
Both sides made substitutions in the 71st minute, Devine a positive one with Davis replacing Sloggett while Collie O’Neill looked to consolidate with Richie O’Farrell for the exhausted Byrne.
Devine’s gamble paid off within a minute as UCD lost the ball in midfield and McNamee slipped in Davis, who left Sheridan with no chance as he picked out the corner.
Liam Scales was lucky not to see a second yellow for breaking up a counter, but Keaney paid the price for a needless foul as he was given his marching orders.
Parkhouse took full advantage, Bruna again the creator, sending through the striker to shoot past a static Sheridan to notch his tenth of the season and ensure third place for Derry.
“I’m really happy to get the goal,” Davis told extratime.ie.
“Eight games to go and both cup competitions, so plenty more chances and hopefully I can score a few more goals.
“I’ve been scoring a lot of goals in training, we do a lot of finishing practice, so I’m delighted to take what I’ve done in training into the game.
“In the last ten minutes of games I think we have the most goals in the league, so we never get too down when we concede a goal because we know we’ll get chances.
“I didn’t [celebrate]. UCD did so much for me when I came back from Reading. I’ve a lot of respect for this club. I was happy to score but I want UCD to stay in the Premier Division as much as anyone.”
UCD: Gavin Sheridan; Evan Farrell, Harry McEvoy, Liam Scales; Dan Tobin (Danu Kinsella Bishop 82), Jack Keaney, Jason McClelland, Liam Kerrigan (Jack Ryan 88), Mark Dignam; Yoyo Mahdy. Sam Byrne (Richie O’Farrell 71).
Subs not used: Tom Murphy (gk), Luke Boore, Aaron McGrath, Isaac Akinsete.
Booked: Jack Keaney (45, 86), Liam Scales (73).
Sent off: Jack Keaney (86).
Derry City: Peter Cherrie; Darren Cole, Eoin Toal, Ally Gilchrist, Ciaran Coll; Greg Sloggett (Conor Davis 71), Gerardo Bruna, Barry McNamee (Ciaron Harkin 82); Jamie McDonagh, Michael McCrudden (Grant Gillespie 64), David Parkhouse.
Subs not used: Nathan Gartside (gk), Mark McChrystal, Jack Malone, Aidy Delap.
Booked: Greg Sloggett (60).
Referee: Tomás Connolly (Dublin).
Attendance: 500 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Gerardo Bruna (Derry City).