It was a case of déjà vu for DCU this afternoon; for the second time in less than a week Stephen Traynor scored the winning goal in extra time. However, today, the goal, which was scored in the opening play of additional time, was unforgettable. Traynor cut inside from the right wing, slalomed through two defenders before dispatching an adroit finish with the outside of his right foot.
It was nil all at the end of normal time, a score line which could not have been a less accurate summation of what had transpired in the previous 90 minutes. DCU, who lost captain Robbie Gaul five minutes before kick-off due an ankle injury, were the vastly superior side in every facet of play. Despite a poorly maintained surface, they played an expansive game full off neat passing and movement. For their part, Magee, when not fouling incessantly, relied almost solely on their set piece and the occasional counter attack.
As pleasing as the win will be for Declan Roche and Co, the fact that DCU have played two 120 minute matches in the last five days will be of concern given the intensive nature of the tournament. Tomorrow’s quarter final against NUI Maynooth, who beat UL by 3-1, will kick-off at 2:30pm, which gives the players less than 24 hours respite.
Although DCU dominated in terms of possession and territory, the first half was sparse in terms of clear cut chances. There were times that they perhaps passed too much and played themselves out of scoring opportunities. Daniel Mahon came closest to breaking the deadlock when he rattled the upright after Mark Logan’s pass dissected the Magee defence. DCU went into the break having done everything but score.
The second half was largely uneventful for the most part, aside from Magee subjecting DCU, and in particular David Gaul, to a series of brutalising tackles, that the referee appeared largely indifferent to. The introduction of Philip O’Driscoll injected DCU with a shot of brio, and they upped their intensity, but the telling ball continued to evade them. Magee’s Adam Clarhe had the best chance before the end, but his effort was way off target.
Traynor’s strike appeared to materialise out of thin air, and caught all in concert, besides him, unawares. No one deserved it more; he was the outstanding player on the pitch and the creative hub for everything DCU did well. Mention must also be given to Daniel Craven and Dylan Dolan, who were ushered into a make shift back four only minutes from kick-off, after Robbie Gaul was deemed unfit. Both players performed more than admirably and can consider themselves indispensable in today’s victory.
Onwards and upwards, and all that.
Tom Rooney at UUJ