A packed Belfield Bowl played host to a Dublin derby between UCD AFC and Shelbourne FC this evening which ultimately finished goalless as neither side could make the most of their limited chances. A huge flock of travelling away fans made the trip across the city but were left disappointed as they struggled to test Healy in students’ goal.

It took the College a few minutes to get up to speed while the danger posed by the Shelbourne left flank was clear to see early on. Lining up with 5 at the back, the high UCD wingers left acres of space for Shelbourne full-backs to push forward. Sean Brennan had to work hard trying to contain Shels’ left wing-back, Conor Kane, as did Evan Osam who had to deal with the ever-present threat of dangerous winger Jack Moylan.

Despite this UCD stood strong to weather the early storm and soon had the best chance of the first half after 12 minutes. The lively Liam Kerrigan found the feet of Colm Whelan who managed to turn in the box and dart for the byline. Whelan drilled the ball across the box and found Dignam who managed a flick on target from close range. Ultimately the effort was blocked but the opportunity spurred on the home side and they grew into the game.

While Shelbourne could only muster some blocked shots from around the edge of the area, UCD were pressing high and confidently stroking the ball around. Just minutes later, UCD fans were on their feet appealing for a penalty. After a lovely turn and dribble from Kerrigan, a short pass to Brennan had the midfielder bursting into the away sides penalty area at pace. There looked to be contact but not enough according to the referee who waved away the protests. Half chances were all UCD could muster from their spell of dominance before Shelbourne once again turned the tide.

While lacking the perfect delivery, Shelbourne’s Conor Kane found space time and time again but UCD right-back Evan Osam remained steadfast and denied any real opportunities. While Colm Whelan grew into the game and slowly shrugged off the tight marking of Shels’ defenders, the north Dublin outfit had their best chance of the half. Tricky winger, Moylan proved a threat again as he burst through the UCD defence on the 40-minute mark only to slice his effort wide from close range.

UCD emerged after the interval as the more positive side, encouraged by midfielder and captain Jack Keaney. In an effort to stifle the UCD quality, Shels resorted to multiple fouls which made it difficult for either side to gain any real momentum. It took almost till the hour mark before Shelbourne significantly threatened UCD again when Moylan saw his effort dragged just wide, much to the relief of Healy in goal.

Both sides made double substitutions on the 64th-minute mark in an attempt to shake up the proceeding and establish dominance. The first sign of this came for UCD when winger Caffrey, who came on looking lively, forced the assured Lewis Webb in the Shelbourne goal into a fine save. There was a significant delay on the 70th-minute mark when sprinklers burst on pitchside. While finally giving the fans something to cheer about, the delay on a cold evening made the restart difficult for both sides and took some of the sting out of the game.

Shelbourne huffed and puffed after the restart but neither side produced any significant chances. Ultimately, a draw was a fair result but UCD may have felt they could have snuck a goal had luck been on their side. Neither side had much of a rest before the game with the preceding round of fixtures taking place last Friday. This showed on a chilly night in Belfield where neither side created the decisive opportunity.

UCD: Lorcan Healy, Sean Brennan, John Ryan, Mark Dignam (Evan Caffrey 64), Adam Verdon (Dylan Duffy 64), Jack Keaney, Liam Kerrigan, Evan Osam, Sam Todd, Colm Whelan, Eric Yoro.

Shelbourne: Lewis Webb, John Ross Wilson, Conor Kane, Aaron O’Driscoll, Brian McManus (Aodh Dervin 64), Mark Coyle, Sean Boyd (Stanley Anabonam 64), Jack Moylan (Shane Farrell 86), Jordan McEneff (Daniel Hawkins 22), Luke Byrne, Cameron Ledwidge,

Conor Paterson – Co-Editor