UCD maintained their five point lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League First Division on Friday night with a 3-0 win over Athlone. The Students were in a real match in the first-half, as the Division’s bottom club created a couple of good scor
UCD maintained their five point lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League First Division on Friday night with a 3-0 win over Athlone.
The Students were in a real match in the first-half, as the Division’s bottom club created a couple of good scoring chances. But Collie O’Neill’s team got a goal just before the break, as Georgie Kelly eventually got the ball over the line, after Gary O’Neill and Jason McClelland had missed chances.
The College manager tells our reporter Peter Branigan that it’s another three points in the bag.
‘It was good to get the three points, but we made hard work of it.’
‘We should have put it to bed a lot earlier. We never really got out of second gear. A positive? We still won 3-0 playing in second gear.’
‘We discussed it afterwards, and the only pressure they put us under was from a free-kick, or a corner.’
‘So we can definitely take the positives out of it, particularly our work-rate when we didn’t have the ball. I thought that was good.’
Despite coming into the game top of the table, UCD’s form has somewhat faltered in recent weeks, with only one win in their previous three games. But O’Neill says this time of the year is always going to be difficult for a university side.
‘I wasn’t worried about the form coming into it. We dropped points in two tough games, away to Shels and away to Galway.’
‘On top of that, the lads nearly all had exams over the last two weeks. So this is the usual period where we tend to dip in form’
‘Some of those lads are staying up for twenty-four, or even forty-eight hours. There’s a lot of cramming going on. But the majority of the exams are now done. So hopefully by next week, they’ll be better rested, and we’ll have the energy levels to play the way we know we can.’
There was one bad mark on O’Neill’s scorecard for the night. Just after half-time UCD goalkeeper Conor Kearns was clattered into as he went to catch a high ball. Referee Paula Brady didn’t hesitate in giving the culprit, Athlone’s Brian Cabraley, the only yellow card of the evening.
Kearns received treatment for a few minutes, and played on for just shy of ten minutes. But eventually he had to come off. O’Neill says it doesn’t look good for his first choice shot stopper.
‘The initial diagnosis is that it’ll be a three to four week lay off. He’s damaged the shoulder. He can’t lift his arm up properly. He’ll be fully assessed over the weekend, and see how it is.’
Next up for UCD is a short trip to play Cabinteely on Friday. The Students won their first clash of the season at Belfield by three goals to one. Last season, each club won a game, while there were also two high-scoring draws between the sides.
‘They’ve a game on Sunday, which I’m going to try to take in. They’re playing Galway, who we played last week, so I want to see how they do.’
‘Stradbrook is a tough place to go, they beat us last year. So it won’t be easy.’