This Match Report by John Hudson appeared in The Herald Striker supplement on Tuesday 21st March 2017
Colleges and Universities strike top form to get
their season off to a bright start
Head coach Greg Yelverton got the perfect start to a programme of important fixtures in the coming months when the Colleges and Universities side recorded an emphatic 2-0 victory over the Defence Forces at Home farm FC, Whitehall.
A first-half strike from Georgie Kelly and Gareth McDonagh’s strike midway into the second half plus an overall sparkling performance in their first competitive outing of the year must half impressed Yelverton.
It’s set to be a busy season for the Colleges and Universities side with university international friendlies in Scotland and France in April and June before they part in the World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan next August. Yelverton in his second season in charge is easily looking forward to the challenges ahead for his squad in the coming months.
“These games against the university international sides of Scotland and France are the ideal build-up to the World University Games in August. It’s good for us to travel away and test ourselves against foreign opposition and with the Players now receiving caps I expect the lads to be eager to fight for their places in these fixtures” said Yelverton.
The win and performance against the Defence Forces certainly was impressive and should give plenty of confidence for the tests ahead.
The students established control of the game early on with Anthony McAlavey and Gary O’Neill outstanding in midfield aided by some tremendous work by Daire O’Connor in link up play with striker Georgie Kelly.
Although the students were in control for most of the opening half they still went in at the break with just the one goal to their credit.
Jason McClelland might have added a second when he connected with a Kelly square pass but his effort was well over the crossbar. While a promising move involving McAlavey and O’Connor saw a Shane Daly-Butz shot blocked by Peter Nolan.
The forces had failed to create any worthwhile scoring chances apart from one effort Aiden Friel that went well wide and Jody Dillon’s long range drive which Matt Connor comfortably held.
The second half continued in the same vain with McAlavey dictating matters in midfield and his delightful through ball to O’Connor looked like setting up the second goal but the UCD man’s finish was just past the post.
Then after Daly-Butz saw his low drive spilled by Whelan, Kelly nipped in but he failed to get a shot away.
Eventually the pressure did pay off and the Colleges and Universities did increase their lead on 65 minutes with a fine finish from substitute Gareth McDonagh’s shortly after he had replaced McClelland. Again it was a well placed through pass from McAlavey that did the damage and set up McDonagh to run on and fire home past Whelan.
The second goal came as a relief to Yelverton and also enabled him to empty his bench and give all his squad some game time. “We just needed that second goal. At 1-0, it’s dangerous and you know they can always catch you on a counter-attack but when Gareth (McDonagh) got the second goal we looked more likely to score again”. said Yelverton.
Although forced to play second fiddle the Forces did come close late on with Ricky Fox and Craig Shortt having a couple of efforts saved by Connor.
Colleges and Universities: Matt Connor (Waterford IT); Robbie Gaul (Trinity College Dublin), Gavin Kearney (DCU), Sean McLoughlin (UCC), Ben McAuliffe (UCC); Anthony McAlavey (IT Carlow), Gary O’Neill (UCD) Shane Daly-Butz (UCC), Daire O’Connor (UCD), Jason McClelland (UCD); Georgie Kelly (UCD) Subs: John McKeown (Maynooth Univ) for O’Neill 63mins, Conor Barry (NUI Galway) for O’Connor 63 mins, Gareth McDonagh (IT Carlow) for McClelland 63 mins, Matthew Whelan (Colaiste Stiofain Naofa) for Kelly 63 mins, Mark Slater (Maynooth Univ) for Gaul 72 mins, Ross Taheny (DCU) for Kearney 72 mins, Seamus Houghton (IT Carlow).
Defence Forces: Stephen Whelan (ballincollig Cc), Eoghan Hastings (Cobh Wanderers), Sean Guerins (St. Michael’s Tipperary), David Sweeney (Ballincollig FC) Peter Nolan (Cobh Wanderers); Ricky Fox (Wexford FC), Craig Shortt (Birr Town), Aidan Friel (Longford Town), Ross McCarthy (Youghal Town), David Stack (Cobh Wanderers), Jody Dillon (Portlaise FC) Subs: Ian Lordan (Greenwood FC ) for Nolan 52 mins, Phillip Keane (Ringmahon Rangers) for McCarthy 52 mins, Jordan O’Connor (Rockmount AFC) for Whelan 72 mins, Christopher Doolin (Ballymun Utd) for hastings 72 mins, David Lacey (FC Hibernians) for Stack 75 mins, Sean Gannon (Dublin Central FC), Ronan Kerin
Referees: Colin Duffy, Assistants: Tony McGuinness, John McCarthy, Fourth Official: Lee Duffy.