UCD AFC 0-6 Shamrock Rovers
Monday, 5th September,
FAI Cup Replay,
Belfield Bowl, 7.45pm
UCD were knocked out of the FAI Ford Cup on Monday evening after they were comprehensively beaten by Shamrock Rovers in their fourth round replay at Belfield. The Students were obviously still feeling the effects of Saturday’s end to end thriller as they couldn’t get near the Hoops at times.
The visitors showed their intent from the first whistle and seem to be determined to make up for last year’s Cup final defeat at the hands of their next round opponents Sligo Rovers. UCD made a few changes from Saturday’s victory with Ger Barron back in goal and Dave O’Connor returning to the defence.
Straight from the get go, Rovers closed down the Students and didn’t let them settle but it was Martin Russell’s men who had the first sight of goal. Full back Sean Harding went on a mazy run infield and unleashes a left foot effort which was goal bound but Dan Murray headed it behind for a corner. That was the best it was going to get for UCD as Rovers settled in and began to dominate with ex Student Ronan Finn running the show in midfield. It took just four minutes for the Hoops to take the lead. Billy Dennehy’s cross was adjudged to strike Mick Leahy on the hand in the box and the referee Dave McKeown had no hesitation in pointing to the spot with some encouragement from the Rovers support. It was Dennehy himself who stepped up but was initially denied by Barron, who saved well low to his left but the rebound fell to the Rovers winger and he put it away at the second attempt.
Rovers began to bombard the Students’ goal and Finn looked to score against his former club after playing a neat one two with Gary O’Neill but Dave O’Connor blocked his shot from a tight angle. From the resulting corner, Dennehy was the provider this time for Chris Turner who rose unmarked in the six yard box to double Rovers’ lead in the 18th minute.
Another former student, Ciaran Kilduff had a chance to net at the Bowl but his weak shot was straight at Barron. Things went from bad to worse for UCD when the away side broke quickly down the right and Finn found McCabe who in turn crossed for Kilduff but Leahy hauled him down in the box and the referee had no option but to send the UCD skipper off. This time Gary McCabe stepped up and converted the penalty to make it 3-0, half way through the first period. Martin Russell in an attempt to stem the tide brought Tomas Boyle on for Graham Rusk to slot in the hole where Leahy left.
UCD have come from a few goals behind in recent weeks including the original fixture in Tallaght last Monday when the away side were 2-0 down but pegged Rovers back to 2-2. They attempted a come back straight away but Creevy’s header was saved by Richard Brush. Then Robbie Benson found space but his shot went well wide, soon after UCD worked it well down the right with Harding and Paul O’Conor linking up to find Benson infield in then laid it off for Paul Corry who shot but Brush pulled off a fantastic save. It wasn’t going to be their night it seemed and when they conceded a fourth before the break, that was emphasised. Michael O’Neill’s men stepped up the intensity again and a corner was half cleared to youngster Sean Gannon on the edge of the area, he attempted a lob/cross which was brilliantly saved by Barron but the rebound fell nicely to the impressive Dennehy who was never going to miss as he smashed it home to round off a great half for his side.
UCD pulled it back in the second period despite being down to ten men. The away side were constantly a threat though with much of their play coming down the right. Ronan Finn tested the handling of Barron with a stinging shot and then Dennehy tested the cross bar when the unleashed from 25 yards but was only denied by the upright. Jack Memery at left back was again impressive and his cross from the left deflected off Harding over O’Conor and it fell to McCabe but he could only scuff it wide with Barron scrambling. UCD’s best move of the game came on the hour mark when Benson played a nice one two with Creevy in midfield and then he played it through for Paul O’Connor but the midfielder’s shot was smothered by the on rushing Brush.
Rovers scored their first of the half when substitutes James Kavanagh and Lorcan Shannon linked down the right before the former UCD midfielder crossed for Dennehy who composed himself and fired past Barron in the 68th minute to complete his hat trick. UCD continued to attack though and Danny Ledwith and Darren Meenan both tested Brush but neither had any luck. The win was sealed with Gary O’Neill’s header from Kavanagh’s cross in injury time.
It was an impressive performance from Shamrock Rovers and they will meet Sligo Rovers in the next round.
UCD: Ger Barron, Sean Harding (Hugh Douglas 78), Daniel Ledwith, David O’Connor, Michael Leahy (Captain), Paul Corry, Paul O’Conor, Robbie Creevy, Graham Rusk (Tomas Boyle 28), Robbie Benson, Samir Belhout (Darren Meenan 50).
Subs not used: James Kavanagh, Chris Lyons, Mark McGinley (GK), Dean Marshall.
Sent off: Michael Leahy 27.
Shamrock Rovers: Richard Brush, Pat Sullivan, (Paddy Kavanagh 60), Jack Memery, Dan Murray, Sean Gannon, Gary McCabe (Lorcan Shannon 60), Chris Turner, Ronan Finn, Billy Dennehy, Ciaran Kilduff (Karl Sheppard 88), Gary O’Neill.
Subs not used: Craig Sives, Stephen Rice, Stephen O’Donnell, Craig Hyland.
Referee: Dave McKeown
Man of the Match: Billy Dennehy for a complete all round display, capped with a fine hat trick.