DCU managed to disprove the axiom that opening games of the season are disappointing affairs fraught with error and lethargy, by easily disposing of UCD in their CUFL Premier Division East encounter. The home side were a picture of cohesion and guile, resembling more a well-oiled outfit in their mid-season pomp.
Michael Isichet scored a superb brace, which sandwiched the long-range effort of second-half substitute Darren Mahon. Indeed, had DCU shown a more ruthless streak in front of goal they may have surpassed the five-goal haul amassed in last season’s corresponding fixture.
For their part, UCD did not lack endeavour or persistence and were certainly not there to make up the numbers. However, their lack of cutting edge coupled with DCU’s trojan work rate off the ball meant opportunities in front of goal were sparse.
Centre-back Robbie Gaul was composure personified throughout, both in the tackle and possession. He consistently neutralised UCD attacks before they became genuine threats; supplemented by his brother David’s similar footballing acumen and the ballast of Mark Logan, the DCU defence proved water-tight.
Tireless tackling machine Rory Dunleavy was the man of the match; a menacing proposition all afternoon, his biting challenges ensured that DCU exerted their dominance in the middle of the park from the get-go. Moreover, when not narrowly avoiding the referee’s notebook, his distribution was exemplary.
Dunleavy’s partner Stephen Traynor consistently motored from box to box, providing the hosts with genuine industry on both sides of the ball. A commanding vocal presence; the Bohemians’ man marshalled his team mates when the moment called for it.
The UCD defence were unable to cope with the hulking presence of DCU centre-forwards Michael Isichet and David Lodola, and were outmuscled time and time again. When DCU launched probing balls up the middle via goalkeeper Ben Dale, the sight of the imposing duo led to mass panic across the visitor’s back four.
Isichet would break the deadock in devastating fashion with a powerful left foot drive from 25 yards after the opening quarter whizzed by in haze of frantic activity.
UCD would then enjoy the lion’s share of possession until the break, but besides some well delivered crosses from Michael Whelan, they failed to disconcert their hosts.
Substitute Darren Mahon gave proceedings a well-needed shot in the arm; having already threatened from distance moments after his introduction, his goal was a stunning individual effort. Picking the ball up just inside UCD’s half, he beat two defenders before powering a shot low past Mark McGinley.
Minutes later Michael Isichet capped the performance with the game’s outstanding goal; latching onto an over the top ball from midfield, he burst through two defenders before rifling a right foot effort into the bottom corner.