DCU’s senior soccer team booked their spot in the semi-final of the CUFL League recently with a 2-1 win over University College Cork at St Clare’s.
A Daniel Mahon goal just before half-time, supplemented by a second from the former Bohemians man on the hour mark, was enough to earn DCU the win despite a late James O’Brien goal for the visitors.
The day was one of double success for DCU and double misery for UCC as DCU’s fresher team overcame their Cork counterparts 9-7 on penalties to also secure their place in the semi-finals.
The senior team came into the game on the back of consecutive defeats to NUI Maynooth and UCD at the tail end of the group stage.
A cool but bright day was a welcome change in weather conditions from the wind and rain that the Glasnevin side had to endure in those previous two matches.
However, it was the visitors who made the stronger start with a close-range effort skimming the crossbar before Kyle O’Shea’s curling shot flew narrowly by Ben Dale’s post after 20 minutes.
DCU manager Declan Roche made some slight adjustments to his team from the UCD game by moving Michael Isichei out to the left-wing, allowing Mahon to spearhead the attack.
The change almost paid dividends after 25 minutes when Mahon’s volley from the left corner of the box dipped just over the crossbar.
The tie was quite a physical one, with tackles flying in as the soggy pitch began to cut up. On the 36th minute mark right-winger Michael Cogley showed his strength to muscle by a UCC defender and bear down on goal. However, a lack of composure as well as the glare of the low winter sun meant that he scuffed his effort wide.
Four minutes later, Cogley, who has impressed since breaking into the starting eleven at the beginning of the group stages, was unlucky when his headed effort crashed off the crossbar.
DCU were beginning to dictate the tempo of the game now and looked like being the most likely to break the deadlock.
On the brink of half time that is exactly what they did, but it came courtesy of a huge stroke of luck. A poor cross from Isichei seemed to be bobbling harmlessly into the arms of the UCC keeper, but a lack of concentration meant that he fumbled the ball and it dropped straight to the grateful feet of Mahon, who stroked it into the net.
The goal was a hugely important one for the home side as they were possibly in danger of losing some of their momentum going into the break.
As it happened, the goal spurred the Glasnevin side on and they took full advantage on the hour mark when Mahon added a second goal. Again the cross came from Isichei on the left wing, but this time the DCU striker didn’t need any help from the goalkeeper as he headed into the bottom corner from six yards to give the home side a two goal cushion.
The second period was relatively void of chances and looked to be petering out to a 2-0 win for DCU before the visitors grabbed a goal back in the closing minutes to set up a tense finish. A free-kick from the right wing caused havoc in the DCU box before eventually landing on the head of O’Brien who found the back of the net.
DCU managed to keep their composure, however, and closed out the game to secure a deserved semi-final place where Carlow IT await with the tie to be played on January 29th.