A hat-trick from Colm Whelan and a first goal in UCD colours for Donal Higgins were enough for the Students to secure a win in the Bowl on Friday night
UCD A.F.C continued their unbeaten start to the season and moved into second place in the Airtricity First Division table. A Colm Whelan hat-trick helped them to a 4-1 victory over Cabinteely at the UCD Bowl on Friday evening.
The Students took the early initiative as Whelan scored to give them the lead and struck again just before half-time to send UCD in two goals to the good at the break. Whelan completed his hat-trick just after the restart, but Dean Casey hit back from a free-kick to give Cabinteely hope.
Donal Higgins scored UCD’s fourth goal of the night to extinguish any chances of a Cabo comeback as the Students saw out the result to secure their first home win of the season at the third attempt.
Andy Meyler made three changes from last week’s draw against Bray Wanderers giving a first start to new signing Donal Higgins and a first since August to Dara Keane.
UCD made the perfect start to game as Colm Whelan latched on to a breaking ball, timed his run perfectly to beat the Cabo offside trap, and produced a composed finish past keeper Adam Hayden after just six minutes.
The Students continued their early momentum and Sam Todd could have doubled their advantage ten minutes later, but the centre-half couldn’t get a solid connection on his volley as he sliced the ball wide from a corner. Todd caused problems for the Cabinteely defence again as he struck the post with a looping header after the ball was hooked back into the danger zone by his defensive partner Luke Boore on twenty minutes.
After almost providing an assist for Todd, Boore put his defence in trouble with a wayward pass to give Cabinteely their first real opportunity of the game. The ball eventually fell to Kieran Marty Waters on the edge of the box, but the former UCD man could only strike the post on his 100th league appearance for Cabo.
Cabinteely looked to be growing into the game, but Whelan struck again to deliver a devastating blow just before half-time. The UCD striker got behind the Cabo defence once again after a fine ball from the left -hand side and fired past Hayden with a finish very similar to his first. The Cabinteely players appealed for an offside, but the goal stood and sent the Students in with a two- goal cushion.
UCD could have been even further ahead with their crisp passing and runs in behind causing problems for Cabinteely’s high line, but most of the visitor’s attacks came from sloppy passes from defence as the Students looked uncomfortable playing out from the back at times.
Cabo should have halved the deficit in the first moments of the half as Dan Blackbyrne found himself unmarked at the back post after a free kick, but their captain fired his volley wide of the post.
The Students punished this missed opportunity seconds later as Whelan completed his hat-trick, finding himself in possession in the box and being able to turn his man and fire across Hayden into the far corner to make it 3-0 to UCD after a sweeping attack down the field.
Dean Casey pulled one back for Cabinteely in spectacular fashion, sweetly striking a free kick into the top corner and beating Lorcan Healy on his own side after 53 minutes.
UCD put an end to any hopes of a Cabinteely resurgence as they broke quickly down the right flank. Cabo had left themselves vulnerable at the back while pushing for a second goal giving Whelan plenty of time to pick out Donal Higgins who slotted home to score his first goal for the club since signing from Galway United in the off-season.
After three goals in less than ten minutes at the beginning of the second half, it seemed like the game could end up with any score-line, but the Students were content to ease off and see out the game without much incident. Substitute Conor Knight almost grabbed a consolation for Cabinteely as he saw his header cleared off the line with five minutes to play but it wasn’t to be as UCD cruised to a 4-1 win.
The Student’s manged the game well, making the most of their opportunities and containing the Cabinteely threat for the majority of the game. Cabo’s chances were mostly limited to set-pieces with the visitors’ heads dropping after conceding for a fourth time.
The win was in no small part down to a stunning performance from Colm Whelan who was involved in all four goals and will hope to carry the same form into the coming fixtures.
UCD travel to Galway United next Friday while Cabinteely, who drop to fifth, host Shelbourne on the same day.