Match Report from Simon Dobey as UCD beat Waterford to earn Premier Division promotion
UCD secured a place in next year's premier division tonight following a deserved 2-1 win over an embattled Waterford side. Two goals from Dara Keane and Colm Whelan sealed the victory which may entice up and coming students to stay on for an extra year.
It was Waterford who were the dominant side in the opening stages, and they quickly converted that onto the scoreboard. A long throw-in from the left-hand side was flicked on by Halford at the front post. Halford’s flick found Junior Armando with his back to goal, Armando had the presence of mind to play an exquisite lay off to Wordsworth who was poised on the edge of the box. Wordsworth’s volley found the bottom right-hand corner.
Many pundits may have anticipated Waterford to be the rattled side given the blues tumultuous run up in which manager Marc Bircham was sacked the week of their most important game of the season. However, it was the students who looked shaken by the early goal. Waterford could have been awarded a penalty after 10 minutes. UCD lost the ball deep in their own half, in the resulting confusion, Cameron Evans was bundled over, but the ref waved play on.
The pendulum then swung, as it so often does, in favour of the students. UCD’s first genuine attack came in the 15th minute; some intricate one touch play set Kerrigan away down the right-hand side. His final ball however, too far ahead of any student in white.
UCD threatened again soon after. Whelan this time turning his man and rampaging into open field. Whelan delivered a cross which was marginally too high for Kerrigan. Paul Doyle was at the back post to gather the cross, but his cut back was cleared by Waterford Centre Half Kyle Ferguson.
In the 20th minute, Gallagher overlapped Kerrigan and played a delicate cross into the danger zone. The ball found its way to the back stick and Waterford captain, Eddie Nolan nearly steered the ball into his own net. Pressure was mounting on the blues.
Moments later the ball was in the back of the Waterford net. Dara Keane this time at the back post latching onto a low cross from Kerrigan. Veteran Waterford goalkeeper Brian Murphy was left stranded in his goal.
A quickly taken free kick nearly caught the students napping just after the goal. A training ground move led to a free header for Wordsworth, however, he was unable to steer the ball on target.
Kerrigan can attack from absolutely anywhere on the pitch. On two occasions the young student made runs from deep lying positions; only to be denied by a wonderful Murphy save and a miscommunication.
John Martin was the brightest player for Waterford. In the 32nd minute he unlocked the UCD defence with a deft flick. The ball fell to Phoenix Patterson, who is currently on loan from Vicarage Road. Harvey O’Brien scrambled back to stand up Patterson and denied him a shot on goal.
The dogged determination UCD showed tonight was exemplified by their second goal. Number 17, Dara Keane, didn’t give up on what appeared to be a lost ball. Man Of the Match, Keane used both muscle and guile to fight off Kyle Ferguson before lifting the ball over Murphy in goal. Colm Whelan was on hand to turn the ball home from a yard out.
UCD saw off some late Waterford pressure towards the end of the first half and Waterford failed to convert the pressure into a chance.
Waterford boss Ian Hendon replaced Cameron Evans at half-time and brought on Niall O’Keefe in his stead. The second half also saw a marked shift in Waterford’s playing style as they threw more men forward in a desperate attempt to equalise. This left Waterford exposed to UCD’s electric counterattack. On one such occasion Whelan attempted to round the keeper but was denied by the feet of Brian Murphy.
Waterford’s best chance of the second half once again came through John Martin. Some excellent individual play saw Waterford slicing through the UCD defence. Junior Armando was tasked with the finish, but his shot was high and wide.
Midfielder Shane Griffin then replaced defender Kyle Ferguson and Greg Halford, who had been playing as a target man up until that point dropped back into centre half. It was a positive move by the Waterford boss, however, it mattered little as Waterford looked bereft of ideas going forward.
Waterford’s best chances in the closing stages came from corners. On one such occasion Sam Todd rose high into the D8 sky to header a ball clear, getting clattered in the process.
Waterford had been living on the edge in terms of challenges and in the 85th minute Niall O’Keefe saw red after a challenge on Liam Kerrigan earned the substitute his second yellow of the night. The sending off ignited belief in the UCD camp and the students’ supporters bellowed out their first chant of the season- “WE ARE GOING UP!”
Referee Paul McLaughlin added on 5 minutes of injury time, However, based on the balance of play it could have been 20 and Waterford still would have struggled to break down a resolute student’s rear guard.
Waterford will sing the blues and the result will offer little vindication of the decision to sack Marc Bircham in midweek. Ian Hendon will face an uphill battle if he is to implement the root and branch reform needed after the Bircham era.
As for UCD, they are going up and will display their talents on Ireland's biggest stage next season.
Brian Murphy; Daragh Power, Eddie Nolan, Kyle Ferguson, Jack Stafford; Cameron Evans, Anthony Wordsworth; Junior Armando, John Martin, Phoenix Patterson; Greg Halford.
Substitutes: Matthew Connor, George Forrest, Shane Griffin, Niall O'Keeffe, Jeremie Milambo, Ronald Green, Isaac Tshipamba, Callum Stringer, Jamal Dupree.
Manager: Ian Hendon.
Lorcan Healy; Michael Gallagher, Sam Todd, Harvey O’Brien, Evan Osam; Jack Keaney, Paul Doyle, Dara Keane, Sean Brennan; Colm Whelan, Liam Kerrigan
Substitutes: Carl Williams, Luke Boore, Mark Dignam, Danu Kinsella Bishop, Ciaran Behan, Adam Lennon, Eoin Farrell, Adam Verdon, Evan Caffrey.
Manager: Andy Meyler.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin. Assistants: Rob Clarker & Wayne McDonald.
4th Official: Neil Doyle.