College & Universities Football League Premier Division quarter-final
An 87th minute winner from Alan O’Sullivan saw DCU overcome UL in their CUFL Division One quarter-final match in St. Claire’s on Wednesday afternoon.
The home side had held much of the ball for most of the game, penning UL back inside their own half, but couldn’t find the finishing touch until a 77th minute penalty from O’Sullivan put them ahead.
Fionn Hurley would nod UL back in front from a free kick after getting free at the back post, but a wonderful solo effort from Sullivan saw him precisely finish into the right bottom corner after shrugging off two markers to send DCU through.
UL took up position deep in their own half early on as DCU’s midfield pairing of Jamie Lennon and Sean Cronin controlled proceedings, with their first big chance coming eight minutes in, but Ross Taheny’s effort from a Mark Walsh cross was misguided.
O’Sullivan executed a gorgeous Cruyff turn on UL centre-back Conor Sinamonn before driving in a low cross to no-one, which summed up DCU in the first half – always left wanting in the final third.
Lennon banged a great shot in from 25 yards in the 33rd minute that required an excellent stop from UL’s Sean McNamara. Meanwhile O’Sullivan also stung his gloves and Tristan Noack Hoffman directed a header just wide, to close out a half in which the Limerick side’s first effort on target didn’t come until the 37th minute.
But they had an electric start to the second half, nearly scoring in seconds when Oisin McMenamin almost caught DCU napping, before O’Sullivan’s 52nd minute breaking effort drew another top save from McNamara.
Trevor Daly and Brion Moriarty broke forward for UL in the 63rd minute as DCU opened wide, but they wasted their chance with a sloppy pass and Taheny recovered.
A Walsh corner in the 75th minute was knocked back towards the UL goal by Noack Hoffman, which started off an almighty goalmouth scramble that ended with Hurley and McNamara somehow keeping O’Sullivan’s point-blank effort out of the net.
But the home side wouldn’t have to wait much longer for the vital breakthrough as, with just 13 minutes left, Dylan Sheahan caught O’Sullivan in the UL box while the DCU forward attempted to dispossess him. The referee pointed straight to the spot and O’Sullivan comfortably dispatched the penalty in the bottom left corner to give DCU the lead.
UL went close twice soon after as DCU dropped off, before a free kick from McMenamin screwballed off the head of Shane McCann from the right hand side, and Hurley ghosted in to snatch a goal back.
Walsh missed from six yards out right after as DCU’s chance looked to have slipped away, but then McCann rolled in O’Sullivan on the break, and he outmuscled both Stephen Collins and Sheahan before classily finishing into the bottom right corner, rolling the ball under McNamara before it went in off the post.
DCU: Shane Fagan, Dylan O’Rourke, Eric Whelan, Ross Taheny, Tristan Noack Hoffman, Craig Dowling, Jamie Lennon, Sean Cronin, Shane McCann, Mark Walsh, Alan O’Sullivan. SUBS: Sean Tomble, James Rice, Ruadhan Feeney, Lee Doyle.
UL: Sean McNamara, Stephen Collins, Conor Sinamonn, Dylan Sheahan, Fionn Hurley, Ethan Bevan, Trevor Daly, Colm Barrett, Rian Brady, Oisin McMenamin, Brion Moriarty. SUBS: William Quaid, Ryan Doonan, Donal O’Connell.
Image Credit: Mark Carroll