UCD returned to the top of the table on Friday night with a comeback 3-2 win over Finn Harps at Belfield. The visitors threatened to come away with the points, as they scored two quickfire goals just before half-time, through Sam Todd and Mark Coyl
UCD returned to the top of the table on Friday night with a comeback 3-2 win over Finn Harps at Belfield.
The visitors threatened to come away with the points, as they scored two quickfire goals just before half-time, through Sam Todd and Mark Coyle. But last season's First Division top scorer Georgie Kelly had the final say, as his hat-trick earned College all three points.
For UCD manger Collie O'Neill, the win was a fair reflection of the play, as he explains to our reporter Peter Branigan.
'Normally what I do at the end of the game is pull two or three of the senior players aside, and discuss where we might improve if we were to play them again tomorrow. The comments were that we bossed possession, and we were the better side.'
But The Students did go in a goal behind at the break. Kelly had given them an early lead inside a quarter of an hour, but the goals from Todd and Coyle looked to have turned the game on its head. O'Neill says there were no panic stations at the break.
'There was a five minute spell where we didn't do well in the first-half. It was secondary play from wide free-kicks, where we didn't organise quickly enough, and that cost us.'
'And it was really just down to concentration. That can happen with less experienced players. It's not really something you can iron out on the training pitch, as such. At half-time my message was, "don't panic, keep doing what you're doing." If we kept playing the way we had for most of the first-half, I felt we would eventually wear them down.'
'I was happy with the performance in the first-half, so there was no need for me to lose the rag at the break.'
It was an important result for The Students. Since their last game at the Bowl, they squandered a 2-0 lead against Bohemian FC in exiting the EA Sports Cup. They then went to Drogheda, and lost 2-0. But O'Neill says they never expected to go through the season unbeaten.
'Overall, we're happy with the season so far. What's pleased me the most is the consistency of our performances. All the games we've been there or thereabouts. In other seasons, we had one really poor game every so often. But we've been competitive, so far, in 2018.'
And the College manager reserved special praise for Kelly, who went away with the match ball.
'He's such a handful, he really is. I'd hate to be a manager coming here and trying to figure out how to keep him quiet.'
'He virtually completes us, so much goes through him. His link play is excellent.'
'And then his goal-scoring ability is a cherry on top for me.'