UCD AFC have moved up to second in the League of Ireland football first division, the Students are chasing promotion this year again to get back into the top Premier division.

  • UCD AFC                 4
  • Athlone Town        1

The Students beat Athlone Town 4 – 1 in a game in the Belfield Bowl, after taking an early lead. The game was played last Saturday night. UCD went ahead in the first few minutes with a goal from captain Gary O’Neill. Athlone failed to clear a cross from the box and UCD capitalised, regaining the ball and stringing it through a series of passes before Gary O’Neill ran onto the ball while surging into the box. The midfield leader O’Neill didn’t squander the opportunity and smashed the ball into the net past the Athlone Town keeper. UCD played well after the early lead settled their nerves. But Athlone Town refused to let the game slip away from them in the early stages. The college outfit began to really apply the pressure after the first goal, with attacker Simon Power nearly creating another moment of chaos for Athlone with positive forages into their half.  

But after ten minutes Athlone had gotten an equaliser. A shot from Jason Lyons from the edge of the box was deflected in off a wayward boot a and spun into the back of the UCD net past the helpless UCD shot stopper Corbet. But the travelling Athlone side never kicked on from the lucky break, and UCD held them under the thumb for most of the first half with their confident passing game that moved the ball around the park well. The Students got a deserving second goal to put them back on top on the scoreboard. Just past the thirty minutes mark player Daire O’Connor gave UCD their second.

Fullback for UCD Liam Scales travelled well up the touchline to set the move in motion. Scales pass found Gary O’Neill in the axis of the student’s attack, O’Neill’s well placed cross was happily threaded through to substitute Daire O’Connor who finished well to place the ball beyond the Town’s keeper. Athlone Town player David O’Sullivan came close to scoring around twenty five minutes in, but his low driven shot drifted wide of the post. A good corner from Athlone required UCD keeper Niall Corbett to spring to action and touch a shot on target safely over the bar. The Belfield home side coasted the end of the first half time to retire comfortably in charge.

The Students start to the second half was a bit more uneven, and they didn’t settle well into any rhythm or consistent possession in passing. Athlone were toothless up front and going forward however, and rarely really troubled the UCD back four with any efforts to equalise again. UCD got a third goal by another lax mistake at the back from Athlone. The third goal came on 67 minutes from UCD’s Georgie Kelly. Powerful centre back Maxi Kougoun, who is never afraid to roam forward, fired a long testing ball into Athlone’s box. The Longford side’s backline entirely misjudged the flight of the ball and were left scrambling as UCD player Georgie Kelly managed to get on the end of the falling pass, controlling it well to set himself up one-on-one against the Athlone keeper. Kelly was composed and deftly chipped the ball over the frantic Labuts who had rushed off his line to try and clean up his back four’s error. Kelly’s lob dropped into the back of the net to give UCD a commanding 3 – 1 lead.  

Kelly was composed and deftly chipped the ball over the frantic Labuts who had rushed off his line to try and clean up his back four’s error

UCD began to close out the game as Athlone attempted to pile more bodies up front in the hope of snatching a goal to start a comeback. The visiting side had a few close shots they managed to engineer, but most didn’t trouble the UCD keeper Corbett enough to threaten the Students hold on the game. It was UCD who got the final goal of the game, Georgie Kelly again the man to net the ball and claim a brace. Athlone pushed a high line up the pitch in an attempt to force a goal, but left themselves open at the back in the final minutes. Just before the ninety minute mark Kelly broke onto a through ball from the halfway line. The UCD attacker raced well past the defeated chasing Athlone defenders, to set himself through on goal. Kelly made no mistake again with the finish, beating the Athlone keeper to seal a solid win for UCD.

The victory puts the Students on 13 points in the early stages of the first division league, just one point behind leaders Waterford. North Dublin side Shelbourne sit in third one point behind UCD, and Cobh Ramblers are in fourth place on eleven points. UCD’s next game is against Cabinteely on Friday April the 14th in the Belfield Bowl. The side will be happy they have been able to find the back of the net more frequently this season, especially given the loss of last season’s star striker Ryan Swann. Captain Gary O’Neill it seems will again take on a lot of the responsibility for netting the goals this season, netting three in the first seven games player so far.

Elsewhere the UCD under 19 side made national headlines, thanks to goalkeeper Conor Kearns scoring a spectacular bicycle kick in the final minutes of their game against Cork City. The U-19 side were losing 1 – 0 to Cork when they scraped a corner in the final minutes of the game. Keeper Kearns travelled up for the last minute corner, and in the frantic scrambling in the box managed to leap up and execute a bicycle kick that smashed the ball past the Cork keeper to earn UCD a draw. A video of the feat quickly went viral among Irish domestic football fans on twitter, with the Sun, Balls.ie, and 42.ie all picking up the keeper’s wonder goal story.

Tweeting after the game the 18 year old UCD player said, it was a ‘decent result away to Cork, nice to score a bicey in the last minute aswell, always said I was a striker’.


Conor Lynott Sports Editor