UCD 3 – 0 Monaghan Utd: Martin Scanlon watched UCD dominate and make Monaghan pay for lacklustre defending at the Belfield Bowl last Friday.
UCD RECORDED A comfortable 3-0 victory against a disappointing Monaghan United side on Friday night, regaining momentum in their push for promotion. Beginning the night in third place – sitting behind Sporting Fingal on goal difference – the victory will come as a welcome boost to manager Martin Russell as the season reaches its climax. However the margin did little to flatter the hosts, who could easily have scored more in the second half as the game’s intensity died.
On a chilly evening where UCD had all the chances, the Students took a deserved lead on twenty-five minutes when Pete McMahon was felled by a clumsy challenge just inside the penalty area. Ronan Finn coolly slotted a firm shot into the bottom left-hand corner, leaving Monaghan keeper Aaron McCarey with no chance.
Even before the opener, Monaghan looked bereft of ideas, seeming content to absorb wave after wave of UCD pressure. For long periods they withdrew all eleven players to within forty yards of their own goal, allowing UCD time to pass the ball cleverly and find holes in their defence. The visitors’ cause was not helped with the loss of their centre back, Conor McMahon, after just seven minutes following two heavy collisions.
UCD’s main early successes came from the sweet left-footed deliveries of Peter Corry, making his full debut for the side. Twice in the first half, his corners had McCarey muddling underneath his own crossbar. The Students’ best opportunity to go further ahead came just before half-time when Corry’s central free kick was flicked towards goal by Evan McMillan, forcing McCarey to pull off a wonderful save to tip the ball just past his right hand post.
Monaghan’s only attempts in the first half were a tame header into the arms of UCD keeper Gerard Barron, who spent most of the match a spectator, and an ambitious lob from halfway that drifted well wide.
The second half continued in the same vein, with UCD’s midfield triumvirate of Corry, Finn and McMahon effortlessly controlling possession. Corry’s inclusion in front of the back four gave Finn and McMahon freedom to push forward and be the side’s main creative influence. The trio successfully muted Monaghan’s threat and gave a springboard to the home side’s attack.
UCD could have had a second goal early in the second period, when Finn’s drive and Ciaran Kilduff’s curling shot both won corners. The advantage was finally doubled in the 62nd minute with a well-worked move from the right, the unmarked John Reilly taking the easiest of tap-ins.
The three home substitutes all looked impressive, particularly Graham Rusk who added UCD’s third. After attempting a one-two, the ball fell neatly to Rusk who placed it past the flailing hand of the overworked McCarey with just seconds remaining.
Manager Martin Russell will know that tighter and tenser matches will follow if UCD are to return to the top-flight next season.
UCD: Barron, Shorthall, Boyle, E McMillan, Nangle, Reilly (Ward 75), Corry, Finn, McMahon, McMillan (Falconer 82), Kilduff (Rusk 75)
Monaghan United: McCarey, McKevitt, Grimes, Whelan, McMahon (Flynn 8), Hanaphy (Brennan 73), O’Connor, McCrossan, Bermingham, Freeman, Clancy