Summer Break: The season so far

 Summer Break: The Season so far after Round 13

A short article on UCD AFC’s season, mostly anecdotal. The blog will do a statistical analysis after next match v. Drogheda Utd away.  Which will be the half-way point of the League season.

UCD have put the pedal to the medal in the last few games with a third league win in a row over Dublin rivals Shelbourne at the UCD Bowl.  Each of those wins brought a tangible gain up the table.

After a modest mid-table start in the first 10 games that included two losses to both Limerick FC and Waterford United FC, but a win each versus Cabinteely, Cobh Ramblers and Shelbourne.

But the the winning consistency wasn’t there and with four games without a win  it was reported that Manager Collie O’Neill had a frank meeting with the Players.  Everyone has responded with very positive outcomes.   With the squad down a few players because of injury the very next match against 4th place Cobh Ramblers, UCD played themselves into the game.  A quiet opening 45 mins but with Maxi Kouogun goig off injured didn’t bode well for the second half.  But a storm was to follow, The Students going 2-0 up 10 minutes after the break, midfielder Greg Sloggett stroked the ball home from outside the box.  Captain Gary O’Neill stroking the ball home from his direct free kick.  Jason MCClelland was giving the Cobh defence the run around and after Ryan Swan came on another penetrating run from McClelland to the edge of the box slipped the ball to Swan and he sent it into the net. A 3-0 lead to The Students before keeper Conor O’Donnell was sent off as he retaliated after Jonathon Creamer challenged him.  UCD had used all their three substitutes so defender Josh Collins went in goal, for UCD’s third goalkeeper of the season.  Cobh’s scored from the penalty spot.

UCD AFC 3:1 Cobh Match report

Conor O’Donnell’s Appearances

O’Donnell’s appearance in the League this year started as a substitute against Limerick Fc at home, after Niall Corbet was sent off for a foul on ex_UCD’s Chris Mulhall.  O’Donnell replaced Daire O’Connor and his first touch was to save the Limerick penalty, he went on to complete a clean sheet in that match as UCD lost 2-1.

The following game O’Neill fielded a strong side against full strength Bluebell United in the Leinster Senior Cup.  With O’Donnell between the sticks, a great match at The UCD Bowl had UCD having to equalise three times (Gary O’Neill free kick, Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters and Ryan Swan) including once in extra time before ‘ Waters scored his second of the night on 119 minutes.

(some of the goals)

His next two matches were 0-0 Cabinteely and a 3-1 reverse against Waterford United in Roddy Collins’ first game back after his 6 game ban (5 Airtricity League, 1 League Cup). It was a great set of games from O’Donnell appearing in 4 league games (incld. 2 partials totally 116 minutes) with 3 League clean sheets.


UCD’s charge up the table.

The Cobh Ramblers win moved UCD above them into fourth. They then faced the challenge of a struggling but battling Premier Division Bray Wanderers. College got off to a peach of a start after O’Neill was fouled 15 metres out. He picked himself up and with UCD Fans singing “we’re gonna to score in a minute” delightfully placed his free kick beyond the Bray keeper.  Swan, Waters, Sloggett and McClelland were trying to slip and trick their way beyond the defence, finally mid-way through the half Swan chased a lost cause out on the left and the ball was played back across the Bray defence for Sloggett to stroke home from outside the box.  Then Waters was sent clear by Sloggett and he made no mistake and UCD went in 3-0 up. Second weekend in a row and similar goals scored.

But Bray’s cup of tea was stronger and within twelve minutes Ryan Brennan had scored THREE times and Bray were level.  But similar to the Bluebell game, UCD raised their game and first free-kick kingpin Gary O’Neill missed a penalty but after some pressure on the visitors goal, ex-UCD’s Hughie Douglas put through his own net from pressure from Ryan Swan.  Substitute Jack Watson cracked a shot off the bar.  UCD held their nerve and built on their confidence.

FAI Senior Cup UCD 4:3 Bray Wanderers

The LSC Semi-Final against Bohemians was another good opportunity to match another Premier Division side, mid-table Bohs put out a strong team as well and great game was decided in the last minute when Ismael Akinade scored for Bohs.  But Niall Corbet saved full length three times in the second half.  Jason Byrne started for UCD and linked up well with the midfield.

Jason Byrne’s contribution

He was carrying an injury when signed him in February 2016, he made his first start for UCD AFC away to Cabinteely, 0-0. Came on as substitute on the hour away to Waterford got a goal back from Tomás Boyle,  76 minutes home v. Cobh Ramblers in a match already won and in again came on in the final minutes in our most recent game the win over Shelbourne.

Jayo brings a presence between the boxes and draws defenders to him which allows space in other areas.  He wants the ball and shows brings the Players around him into the game.  The second half of the season should bring success his and the team’s way.

Wins in a row

So after wins over Cobh in the League Bray in the cup and a loss against Bohs in the LSC, UCD traveled to Athlone Town.  the signs of discount at their club was there already with a Fan protest taking place for the second week in a row.  UCD took the game to the defensive Town, with Gary O’Neill unavailable, Tomás Boyle took over as Captain for the game, our second League captain of the season.  Dylan Watts was incredible controlling the pace of UCD’s attacks and got his reward with a header half-way through the first half.  Ryan Swan picked up his fourth league goal in six games joining Gary O’Neill and Maxim Kouogun as leading league scorer, Swanee’s return as a regular scorer is back.  Athlone scored just before the break and a nervy second half from the team and UCD were on the back foot for most of the second half, many chances just passed the post or over the bar.  UCD finished the game holding the ball in the Athlone half.  But for the first  time UCD had TWO League wins in a row this season and with Shelbourne narrowly losing to Limerick FC UCD went back into third place and a play-off position. Two wins and two tangible rewards getting up the table.

The Students were up for it in their expected battle against Dublin Rivals Shelbourne. A Gary O’Neill penalty (fifth league goal) and a sublime first league goal for Jason McClelland was a joy to watch and UCD’s third win in a row closed the gap on the leaders after Limerick and Drogheda Utd after they drew 2-2.


UCD beating Shels

The third game we gained a tangible reward from a league win.  And we have the fourth game in our sights Friday 24th June, Drogheda Utd. v. UCD AFC, United Park, ko 19:45

Limerick leaders run away campaign

UCD took the lead with Kouogun header from a Waters corner against limerick in the first match of the season. But The Blues equalised through Aaron Greene and Brian Shortall’s sending off meant UCD were over run in the second half.  Limerick went on a 12 league wins in a row, beating UCD 2-1 at UCD Bowl in April, Ryan Swan getting his first league goal.  They’ve dominated the First Division from the beginning scoring over 53 goals in 13 games.  They can add three EA Sports Cup wins incld Premier Division Wexford Youths and Galway United means they have a Semi-Final in August and a second round FAI Cup 5-2 win over Bluebell Utd.  They’re only defeat this year is a 1-0 loss to Cobh Ramblers in the Munster Senior Cup.

They’re incredible winning run came to an end with that 2-2 v. Drogheda Utd. , Ross Mann scoring in injury time to save their unbeaten record.  Some cracks showed the previous week with Limerick withstanding a storm to win 4-3 at Tolka.

UCD will be looking to get points out of the Blues in our two league games against them  (Sat July 02nd Market’s Field) and ( Fri Aug 26th UCD Bowl).  partly to take points off every team in the Division but also because Limerick are likely to give points to our rivals.

There are two occasions when Limerick are vulnerable against our nearest rivals Drogheda Utd. and Shelbourne. That EA Cup Semi-Final on Monday 01st August Derry City (a) falls between Limerick v Shelbourne Fri July 29th and Drogheda Utd. v Limerick Fri 12th August.  If Limerick keep the impressive gap on 2nd place, Martin Russell may chose a weakened side for those games and the cup game will be a distraction.

The second occasion is the Fixture list, UCD played Limerick in the first game of the season.  So in the final fourth series of matches UCD v. Limerick matchday 22 while Shelbourne (A) matchday 26 and Drogheda Utd. (H) matchday 27 out of 28 matches.

Whatever happens after the Summer Break, UCD have put themselves into a good chance of getting second or third place for the Semi-Final Play-off.  But The Students have also made a bridge to the free league weekend in August for the third of the FAI Cup (last 16).  The Draw should be around middle of July and it’s another chance to play a Premier Division side and gain more confidence with a fine performance.

The side are playing the best football of the year at the minute and UCD fans can come down to the UCD Bowl and soak up the atmosphere and enjoy some quality ball.

Next Home Match: Friday 08th July, UCD AFC v. Cabinteely, UCD Bowl, ko 19:45



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