End of an era as home defeat relegates Students

UCD 0 – 1 Bohemians: A dire defeat at the hands of Bohemians saw UCD consigned to relegation, reports Fearghal Kerin.

A home defeat at the hands of newly crowned champions, Bohemians, coupled with victory for Finn Harps over Drogheda means the end of an era at the Belfield Bowl. Four seasons of top-flight football came to an end with a well-taken winner from Brendan McGill.

A poor performance by Bohs’ in their last league outing against Drogheda had given the Students hope that the champions may have taken their eye off the ball in terms of the league, but the team was disappointed to find the Gypsies fully focused on the task at hand.

In reality, the margin of victory could have been significantly less flattering to Pete Mahon’s side, which must now begin sifting through the wreckage of this season as they plan for a season in Division One next year.

The signs were there early on, with Ireland international, Glen Crowe, firing the first warning shot, his fifth minute header looping harmlessly over the home side’s bar. Glen Cronin too could have opened the scoring, but like Crowe, he failed to hit the target from close range with a header.

The Bohemians’ profligacy from headed chances continued, as captain, Owen Heary headed an excellent chance wide after an in-swinging corner from McGill.

Bohs’ are champions for a reason, however, and were unlikely to continue wasting such chances all night, and it was the lively McGill who deservedly broke the deadlock. Sublime play by Mark Rossiter created a chance for McGill, who slid the ball into the net for the goal that would consign UCD to relegation.

UCD’s only real chance came late on, with Shane McFaul failing to beat Bohemians’ keeper, Brian Murphy

Not content with 1-0 at the break, another chance fell to a man who has been in Ireland senior squads, Jason Byrne, but the Tallaght man saw his well-struck shot from the right palmed over the bar by Matt Gregg on the stroke of half time.

The one-way traffic continued after the break as UCD failed to get out of its own half for any sustained period. Lithuanian, Mindaugas Kalonas’s quick feet created a chance, which he curled just wide for what would have been a memorable goal.

An unlikely source gave Bohs’ their clearest cut opportunity to double the lead, Byrne’s cross picking out defender, Liam Burns, who had stayed forward after a corner but Gregg did well to save at the far post using his feet.

UCD’s only real chance came late on, with Shane McFaul failing to beat Bohemians’ keeper, Brian Murphy, who stayed tall and blocked the shot, and from there, any chance of a comeback for UCD seemed highly unlikely.

The frailties of this UCD side were again all too evident. With just 19 goals this season, they have been atrocious in front of the posts. But for the heroics of former Bray-goalkeeper, Matt Gregg between the posts, many of the 1-0 defeats suffered on Friday nights throughout the year could have been humiliations.

The problem is best summed up in that UCD’s top goal-scorer is a fullback, himself providing just three strikes this season. More damning is that UCD’s third highest scorer is Gregg, the goalkeeper.

Despite the on-field problems, however, UCD can remain proud of the manner in which they have done their business of the field this term. While countless other clubs in the top flight ran into financial difficulties in their bids for success, UCD AFC have operated within their means and players have always been paid.

All in all, this has been a disappointing season, but should he remain in charge, Pete Mahon is the man to bring this side back up. The financial implications of relegation are significant, but they are a young side, and many current students can expect to see UCD back in the Eircom League during their time in the college.

Teams:
UCD – Gregg; Shorthall, Kenna, McMillan, Bermingham; Finn, King (Cahalane 77), McFaul, McWalter; Purcell (Meenan 66), Duggan.
Bohemians – Murphy; O Heary, Oman, Burns, Rossiter; McGill, O’Donnell (Deegan 45), Cronin (T Heary 79), Kalonas; Crowe (Singh 53), Byrne.
Ref – D Hancock (Dublin).