Niall Newberry reports from Oriel Park
Dundalk reached the semi-finals of the EA Sports Cup for the fifth time in six years, after goals from Brian Gartland, John Mountney and Georgie Kelly saw them beat UCD 3-1 on Monday night.
Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth, as expected, rang the changes from Friday night’s dramatic 1-0 league win over St Patrick’s Athletic with Gartland, Mountney and Dean Jarvis the only survivors.
UCD made four changes from their 1-0 loss in Waterford on the same night with reserve goalkeeper Gavin Sheridan, Dan Tobin, Sean McDonald and Yousef Mahdy all taking their place in the starting XI.
The Students had the game’s first chance when McDonald – who wasn’t named on the original teamsheet, but replaced late withdrawal Dara Keane – forced Aaron McCarey into a save early on.
The Lilywhites, sporting their purple strip in aid of Temple Street Children’s Hospital, took the lead after seven minutes had elapsed when Mountney’s corner was headed home by captain Gartland.
The visitors almost equalised soon after though when Paul Doyle’s shot, which deflected off Dane Massey, was expertly tipped over the crossbar by McCarey, who was deputising in goal for Dundalk.
However, it was Dundalk who scored again on 18 minutes when Mountney, who was playing in an unfamiliar number ten role, finished with ease following an incisive pass from Cameron Dummigan.
McCarey was again on-hand as Daniel Kelly almost scored what would have been a bizarre own goal. However, the former Wolves player dived low to his right to save, preventing such from happening.
Dundalk were playing some nice football in front of a relatively paltry crowd and a great move involving Georgie Kelly and Lido Lotefa saw the latter crash an effort off the post from distance.
Mountney looked to be enjoying his new surroundings and he fired wide not long before his header hit the bar from a good Massey cross, in what was the last meaningful effort of the first 45 minutes.
UCD came out fighting in the second period and had some half-chances through Conor Davis and Gary O’Neill, whose respective efforts flew wide and over before Mahdy drew a save from McCarey.
Dundalk weren’t playing with the same swagger in the second half as they were in the first as Daniel Kelly and Jordan Flores spurned decent openings with neither able to cause Sheridan any trouble.
Georgie Kelly shot straight at the visiting ‘keeper after some good work from Mountney, but the SSE Airtricity League leaders seemed to be losing their stranglehold in this cup tie.
Collie O’Neill’s side got themselves back into the match when, after Davis’ blocked shot, hesitant play from Daniel Cleary allowed Mahdy to nick the ball from him and finish from close range.
Despite that goal, UCD were struggling to create any opportunities for an equaliser and it was instead Dundalk that upped the ante, with Mountney’s shot much too hot to handle for Sheridan.
Dundalk then sealed their passage into the semi-finals in the first minute of stoppage-time when a lovely pass from Daniel Kelly send Lotefa on his way, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Sheridan.
From the rebound, however, and perhaps cruelly for the Students, former UCD striker Georgie Kelly finished with ease. Dundalk really are continuing to look strong on all fronts this season.
Dundalk: Aaron McCarey; Cameron Dummigan (Dylan Hand 46), Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Jordan Flores (Sean Gannon 81), Dean Jarvis (Chris Shields 72); Daniel Kelly, John Mountney, Lido Lotefa; Georgie Kelly.
Subs not used: Ross Treacy (gk), Stephen Folan, Michael Duffy, Mark Hanratty.
Booked: Daniel Cleary (22).
UCD: Gavin Sheridan; Dan Tobin, Josh Collins, Liam Scales; Richie O’Farrell, Gary O’Neill, Paul Doyle (Jack Ryan 87), Jason McClelland; Sean McDonald (Mark Dignam 40), Conor Davis; Yousef Mahdy.
Subs not used: Conor Kearns (gk), Darragh Corcoran, Luke Boore, Evan Farrell.
Booked: Paul Doyle (16), Dan Tobin (63), Gary O’Neill (84).
Referee: David Dunne.
Attendance: 500 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: John Mountney (Dundalk).