UCD maintained their lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League First Division on Friday night with an impressive 2-0 victory over Galway. The College couldn’t break down a stubborn visiting defence in the first-half. But when Neil Farrugia’s eff
UCD maintained their lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League First Division on Friday night with an impressive 2-0 victory over Galway.
The College couldn’t break down a stubborn visiting defence in the first-half. But when Neil Farrugia’s effort broke for Daire O’Connor in the fifty-fifth minute, he smashed it past Tadhg Ryan, and Collie O’Neill’s team never looked back.
When challenged by our reporter Peter Branigan as to whether there were doubts over his side’s form coming into the game, the Drogheda native is firm.
"I had no doubts, no doubts at all. We knew what job we needed to do.
"Even last week in Wexford, on a difficult pitch, we were efficient. Tonight we were efficient. That’s the way we want it to be between now and the end of the season.
"The mood in the camp has been really good the last few weeks. They’ve been really at it. It’s nearly got to the stage where I don’t need to be here; it’s motoring by itself.
"I have Ryaner (assistant manager Ian Ryan) there who runs the show for me, and the players do it themselves!"
The result leaves The Students five clear at the top of the table with a possible eighteen points still to play for. At this stage of the season, O’Neill continues, the players are comfortable with one another and they know what they have to do.
"You’re in the business ends of things. You’re not working on anything big at this time of year. You’re just fine tuning little messages.
"When we played Galway away a few months back they asked a lot of questions of us that night. Tonight they tried to ask the same questions, but we answered them a lot more comfortably."
It was a night when UCD goalkeeper Conor Kearns had to be on top form. He saved a first-half penalty from Eoin McCormack, before pushing Danny Furlong’s header away just after the break.
"He’s come up with some big saves in big moments in games. They’ve been vital for us.
"Everybody will always focus on our attacking strength; when Georgie was here, it was all about him. But I think a lot of credit tonight has to go to (Liam) Scales, Josh (Collins), Darragh (Corcoran), and Evan (Osam) for some of the defending that they did."
The second goal was a real piece of magic from Farrugia and Yoyo Mahdy. The pair passed their way through the Galway defence to leave Mahdy to finish to an empty net. All of the UCD players joined in the celebration.
"That’s what we’re about, and I think that’s what players enjoy doing.
"It’s nice to win games playing that style of football. If that’s your philosophy, players will buy into it an awful lot more easily."
Off the pitch, O’Neill has been working away on UEFA Pro Licence. It was confirmed last week that he will receive his licence, along with thirteen other coaches, at the FAI Festival of Football in Cork next month.
"It was nice to have it finally done and dusted. It’s been over two years of a process.
"But it’s been really good, really enjoyable, and I’ve taken bits out of it that I’ve brought in here. And it’s helped this club get better."
Next up is a trip to bottom of the table Athlone, who UCD have already beaten twice this season. With the league title within the squad’s grasps, O’Neill is taking nothing for granted.
"We treat everybody with respect. You get the same amount of points for a win against Athlone as we did here tonight with the win against Galway.
"We still have to turn up and go about our business in the right manner."