UCD AFC Suffers First Defeat of 2024 Despite Moore Heroics

Image Credit: Oisin Gaffey

Sports Editor Oisin Gaffey reports from The UCD Bowl for UCD AFC’s first home game of the 2024 League of Ireland First Division Season.

UCD AFC returned to the Bowl for the first time since November last year, where they were dismantled 5-1 by Dundalk United in what was their final game of the 2023 League of Ireland season, drawing a subpar season in which they were relegated to the Premier Division to a close. 

The students returned to the bowl tonight for their first home game of the 2024 season, after winning away to Bray Wanderers 2-1 last week, despite losing Alex Dunne to a red card in just the 35th minute. It was a spirited performance from The Collidge, as they set their sights on a return to the top flight of Irish Football following relegation from the Premier Division last season.

The first half saw UCD dominate the majority of possession and chances, however, it was the visitors from Limerick who registered the first shot on target and had the first real chance of the game. After a long throw-in from the right-hand side, the College defence failed to clear the danger effectively, allowing the ball to bounce dangerously inside the 18-yard box. Treaty United’s Colin Conroy was the first to react to the bouncing ball and looked to be through on goal. With little time to react, UCD Goalkeeper Kian Moore quickly rushed off of his line and made himself big. The Ireland Under 21 International thwarted Conroy’s effort, with a second attempt being blasted over the crossbar. It was an important save from Moore early on.

It wasn’t long before The Students registered their first real chance of the game. In the 8th minute, after a nice piece of skill from Michale McCullagh, the winger whipped in a dangerous ball towards Jake Doyle in the 6-yard box. Free from his defender, Doyle looked to steer his header goalwards but was unable to keep his effort from rising and the ball went behind for a goal kick to the visitors. 

The best chance of the half fell UCD’s way in the 25th minute, McCullagh heavily involved again. Performing an effortless backheel and pirouette on the right-hand side he linked up with Captain Ronan Finn with a teasing cross into the Treaty box. Finn used all of his experience to calmly pluck the ball out of the air with his chest, playing with his midfield partner Sean Brennan down to his left. Finn’s cushioned pass fell to Brennan, who attempted a volley from 15 yards. It was a mighty effort, clipping the crossbar, but unfortunately rose too high and went out for a goal kick, amidst a backdrop of “oooohs” from the UCD faithful.

The Students dominated the majority of the first half, but Treaty proved more than capable of producing a dangerous counterattack after absorbing plenty of pressure. UCD could have been ahead at the break, were it not for the crossbar and a slightly mistimed header. It was all set up for a dramatic second half.

UCD enjoyed a bright start to the second half, and with 50 minutes on the clock, it looked as if Sean Brennan had broken the deadlock. Captain Ronan Finn picked out Brennan on the edge of the box, the midfielder setting himself before attempting a shot from 20 yards out. His effort took a slight deflection and caused some confusion for Treaty goalkeeper Colin Chambers who was left scrambling. It looked as if Chambers had been lobbed, as the ball rattled the net, only for it to have landed on the roof of the net. The College fans thought the ball was in.

Disaster struck UCD in the 59th minute as the visitors were awarded a penalty for a foul on Colin Conroy, committed by the busy Sen Brennan. Enda Curran of Treaty United stepped up to take the penalty, Kian Moore staring him down on the UCD line. Moore guessed the right way, and denied Curran with his legs, much to the delight of the home fans who erupted into cheering. Moore had kept his side in the game and kept the scores level with half an hour still to play.

Moore was called into action again two minutes later, tipping a strike from a distance over the bar. What a game Moore had in the UCD net.

For about five minutes the game descended into chaos, and Treaty thrived in this disorganised period of play. Catching the Students’ defense napping in the 73rd minute, Enda Curran capitalised on some defensive miscommunication and was played in by a teasing ball that split the defense. There were shouts for offside, but the linesman’s flag was never raised. Curran calmly slotted the ball into the back of the UCD net, and it’s safe to say Kian Moore was furious to concede such a soft goal, especially considering his brilliance throughout tonight’s game.

UCD heads dropped after conceding the goal, and the students never really looked to recover and settle down. In the aftermath of the goal, UCD was unable to play with the same fluidity that they had been able to for the majority of this game. Frustrations rose within UCD ranks, and the mistakes began to pile up and the discipline worsened.

Nevertheless, the students fought valiantly to the end, but unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for the home side in the end as they suffered their first defeat of the 2024 season. The students finished tonight’s match with ten players, as captain Ronan Finn was removed from the pitch after suffering an injury in the 87th minute.

A flurry of late chances ensured the home fans had plenty to cheer about, but the students were unable to turn these chances into goals.

Overall, they will feel that they could have and maybe should have won this game, but one must credit Treaty United for their resilience when they were under pressure, and their ability to capitalise on opportunities when it mattered most. 

Full Time in The UCD Bowl

UCD AFC 0 - 1 Treaty United 

Team Lineup

UCD AFC: K. Moore, A. Wells, H. O’Brien (Norval 84’), S. Brennan (Raggett 82’), M. McCullagh, R. Finn (C), C. Behan, H. Curtis, N. Holohan (Higgins 74’), A. Verdon (Kinsella-Bishop 61’), J. Doyle (Alonge 61’)

Substitutes: D. Kavanagh, M. Raggett, M. Alonge, D. Higgins, D. McCarthy, C. Bolton, D. Kiinsella Bishop, S. Norval, R. McBrearty

Treaty United: C. Chambers, B. O’Riordan, O. O’Reilly, L. Devitt, C. Conroy, T. Considine (Mahdy 74’), S. Christopher, S. Kirkland, E. Curran (Doherty 81’), M. Walsh (C), R. Lynch (O’Connor 75’)

Substitutes: M. Dike, W. Armshaw, Y. Mahdy, A. O’Halloran, E. O’Connor, M. O’Halloran, F. Doherty, L. Kirrane, M. Murphy

Referee: Ian O’Keefe

1st Assistant: Brian Fenlon

2nd Assistant: Ricky Crean

Fourth Official: Daryl Carolan