With only five games to play in the CUFL group stages before the quarter-finals it is paramount for a team to bounce back after a loss and that’s exactly what DCU did on a freezing cold night in IT Sligo last week.
After losing to DIT two weeks previous the Glasnevin side came out firing on all cylinders to cruise to a 3-0 win over their western counterparts thanks to goals from Alan O’Sullivan, Mark Walsh and Seán Pender.
With Sligo sitting bottom of the table after three games DCU were the favourites going into the game, standards they lived up to in the first half anyway.
Having said that, an early chance for the home side could have seen the game go in a different direction but Jake Dykes’ effort flashed narrowly wide of the post.
Four minutes later DCU were in the lead thanks to O’Sullivan’s third goal in four games. A neat ball down the left flank from Daniel Mahon found the centre forward’s clever run out wide.
O’Sullivan cut inside, nutmegged a defender on the edge of the box and smashed home from close range to give the visitors the lead.
With DCU captain Robbie Gaul absent due to graduation, Ireland underage international Luke Kelly started in the centre midfield role for the second game in a row and excelled. The Bohemian under-19 player almost opened his goal tally after 20 minutes but his effort after a half cleared cross struck the post.
The chance was the first of a flurry for the visitors that should have seen them add to their advantage. Just a minute after hitting the post Kelly had a long range effort deflected up onto the bar before Tom Lahiff’s header was met with a fantastic save from Jason Quinn.
Just another minute later and DCU would hit the woodwork for the third time in five minutes when Michael Isichei’s long range shot clattered the bar.
Despite continuing to dominate DCU couldn’t add to their advantage and went into the break just one goal ahead.
It wouldn’t be until the 72nd minute that the visitors did make it two when Shane McCann’s burst down the left wing allowed him to cut it back to Walsh who slid in to knock it by the goalkeeper.
Declan Roche introduced Pender from the bench with four minutes to go and he immediately went close with a curling effort from the left hand side of the box.
As the clock ticked into injury time Pender did find the net with the help of a deflection or two, ensuring DCU’s three points and with it a quarter-final spot.
DCU: David Flaherty; Philip Kavanagh, Tom Lahiff, Jack Memery, Shane McCann; Michael Isichei (Colm Callanan, 87), Darren Craven, Luke Kelly (Christian Henry, 86), Daniel Mahon (Dean Gregan, 69); Alan O’Sullivan (Conor Ralphe, 79), Mark Walsh (Seán Pender, 86).
IT Sligo: Jason Quinn; Mark Connaughton, Ronan Sweeney, Jake Dykes, Dylan Conroy; Alessandro Perrini, Eoin Clarke, Joe Mitchell, Jack Murphy; Dylan McCabe, Paulo Carvalho.