DCU’s senior soccer team completed their group stage campaign in the CUFL Premier Division recently with a 2-1 loss to UCD in Belfield, but still managed to secure second place and a home draw in the quarter-finals thanks to NUI Maynooth failing to beat DIT.
An early goal followed by an 80th minute mistake from Ben Dale in the DCU goal gave the home side the win despite a late Tom Lahiff goal for the visitors.
The loss was DCU’s second consecutive defeat after losing out to NUIM on a scoreline of 4-0 the previous week. The game couldn’t have started in worse fashion for the away side as UCD found the back of the net after just 12 seconds.
Dean Clarke and Robbie Benson ran straight at the DCU defence from the kick-off before putting together a neat one-two on the edge of the box, allowing Benson to rifle home a low shot from 18 yards.
For the immediate period after the goal, DCU looked rattled as they battled the strong wind and rain that was blowing straight into their faces. Just a minute after the first goal had gone in, Benson came close again when his 25-yard effort clattered off the crossbar.
The wind was causing havoc for the DCU defence as they struggled to keep control of the ball. However, they gradually began to settle down and get on top of their opponents.
Philip Kavanagh’s long-range effort was the first of the game for the visitors, coming 22 minutes in but never troubling Mark McGinley in the UCD goal.
Recent casualty Daniel Mahon made his return for DCU in this game and was a constant thorn in the side of the home team. Just before the 30-minute mark the former Bohemians player won and then took a free-kick 20 yards from goal that was McGinley’s first real test.
DCU were dominant now and soon after were denied an equaliser by the linesman’s flag. Michael Cogley’s perfectly clipped through ball allowed Michael Isichei to bear down on goal but the assistant raised his flag before the ball hit the net. The decision certainly looked to be a close call and protests from the DCU players suggested that it may have been wrong.
DCU were well on top going into the break and continued the trend after the restart. First Conor Ralphe struck a long-range effort wide before the excellent Mahon cut in from the left-wing to sting the palms of McGinley, who could only push the ball around his post for a corner.
The game went a little bit flat as the second half wore on with both teams battling against the conditions. DCU were still pushing for what would be a deserved equaliser and came close as the clock ticked over 80 minutes when Cogley narrowly shot wide.
But disaster was to strike for the visitors when an unfortunate blunder from goalkeeper Dale gifted UCD a second goal and ensured that all three points would be clinched by the Belfield side.
Poor handling from the net minder resulted in the ball being dropped right onto the toe of Tristan Dent, who couldn’t believe his luck as he tapped in from close range.
DCU pulled a goal back in the dying minutes when David Bricke’s corner was volleyed in at the back post by Lahiff, but it was a case of too little too late for the visitors.
Thanks to NUIM’s failure to win their final group game, DCU managed to secure a home tie with University College Cork in the quarter-finals. That game takes place on December 4th in St Clare’s.
A day prior to the senior game, the DCU fresher team also secured their place in the quarter-final with a thrilling 6-5 victory away to National College of Ireland.
The 11-goal thriller was full of drama right up to the last minute when the visitors netted a winner in the dying minutes courtesy of Jordan Noonan. A fantastic hat-trick from Ciarán Doyne as well as a brace from Adam Walsh made up the scoring for DCU.
The fresher team will travel to take on UCC in the quarter-final today.
Image Credit: Aidan Broletti