UCD 0; Waterford United 0
This game, played at the impressive UCD complex last Friday night, was highly entertaining as scoreless draws go.
The playing surface was in superb condition and despite the constant rain which fell throughout, the pace did not dip once and those present were served up a very tasty dish indeed in ‘The Bowl’.
It was of course a massive game for both clubs, and what was a fair result keeps the students two points clear of the Blues. Stephen Henderson had to plan without the service of Graham Cummins who was suspended and his height was missed from a Waterford point of view.
Kevin Waters slotted into the middle of the park and his task was to win high balls against the tall UCD defenders, something he did very well indeed. David Grincell came in for Cummins but he played out wide left, the position usually held by Waters.
All in all the good Waterford support present were happy enough with the point gained, as indeed were the players and manager. The game brought the curtain down on the opening series of games and an overall total of 26 points from the 11 played is a good return.
Next Friday the Blues and Sporting Fingal meet at the Morton Stadium as series two gets going. The local side are two clear of the red-hot favourites to win the league, so another huge game is in store.
Both teams played the opening half in a counter-attacking fashion. Kevin Waters passed to David Grincell after 10 minutes but the latter was just off target with a shot on the run. Four minutes later, David McMillan shot over the crossbar from inside the penalty area following a pass from Brian Shortall.
McMillan then saw his 20-yard free kick go narrowly wide. Waterford’s in-form striker Willie John Kiely turned quickly inside a crowded penalty area on 38 minutes but his angled low strike went inches wide of Gerard Barron’s right upright.
UCD played at a much faster pace during the early stages of the second half but the Waterford defence, especially Kenny Browne and Kevin Murray, never put a foot (or a head) wrong under the pressure being applied.
It was the Blues who almost took the lead on 51 minutes. Seamus Long played a free kick deep into the UCD box. Barron punched the ball clear and when it fell to John Kearney he tried to lob it back into the net but the ‘keeper got back in time to catch.
Three minutes the students who almost broke the deadlock. Good work by the impressive Ronan Finn saw him picking out Cieran Kilduff whose shot was well saved by Michael Devine.
Joe Mulcahy got a little bit of space out on the right after 61 minutes before squaring the ball to John Kearney who let fly low from 22 yards but his effort went inches wide of Barron’s left upright.
The last mentioned produced a fine save two minutes later. Alan Carey drilled in a free kick from the left and a goal looked on the cards when Barron dropped his first attempt but he produced a brilliant double reaction save amid a chaotic scramble.
UCD came roaring back four minutes later. McMillan skipped past Browne before firing in an angled drive from the right but the ball went narrowly wide of Devine’s far upright.
Alan Carey came to the rescue of Waterford on 68 minutes. Chris Mulhall sent over a corner kick from the right which was met by McMillan whose powerful downward header beat Devine but Carey read the situation brilliantly and headed the ball clear underneath the crossbar.
The last chance of the contest fell to the Blues. Sub Declan Woodgate went off on a wonderful solo run down the left before whipping the ball to the back post to Grincell but he headed over the crossbar when slightly off-balance. No goals, but a fine game between two evenly-matched sides.
UCD: Gerard Barron, Gareth Matthews, Brian Shorthall, Andrew Boyle, Evan McMillan, Robbie Creevy, Keith Ward, Ronan Finn, Cieran Kilduff, David McMillan, Chris Mulhall. Subs: Cieran Nangle for Matthews, Peter McMahon for David McMillan (both 72 mins), Timmy Purcell for Ward (80).
Waterford United: Michael Devine, Seamus Long, Kevin Murray, Kenny Browne, Alan Carey, John Kearney, Paul McCarthy, Joe Mulcahy, Willie John Kiely, David Grincell, Kevin Waters. Subs: Declan Woodgate for Mulcahy (72 mins), Gary Dunphy for McCarthy (77), Kieran Fitzgerald for Waters (86).
Referee: Padraig Sutton (Clare).