There was a carnival atmosphere around Belfield as Cobh Ramblers made the journey to College on the last day of term. UCD kicked off in the spring sunshine on the back of a fine run of form.
Ninety rain-soaked minutes later, the carnival atmosphere has dissipated, as Cobh grabbed a point they scarcely deserved.
UCD dominated the early exchanges, holding possession against a disciplined Cobh side, who forced the students to play side to side, rather than through them.
The home side were ahead in the fourteenth minute. Ryan Swan’s determination won his side a free-kick 35 yards out, slightly to the left of goal. Skipper Chris Mulhall delivered a dangerous in-swinging free kick towards the back post. Swan was on hand to direct the ball past Steven Hickey in the Ramblers goal to give his side an early lead.
The weather soured just before the half hour mark, and the quality of football with it. With driving wind and rain making conditions difficult for both sides, Cobh’s only chance of note in the first half came from a set-piece. Steven Kenny delivered an in-swinging free-kick from 35 yards out, close to the left hand touchline. The ball was just slightly overcooked, finding its way through to Corbet in the UCD goal, who gathered easily.
UCD came close to doubling their lead on the stroke of half-time. Some good interplay between Mick Leahy and Mulhall down the right saw the latter deliver a dangerous ball into the box. Checking his run and moving away from goal, Jamie Doyle did well to divert his header goalwards, only to find Steven Hickey in the way, with the Ramblers’ keeper gathering easily.
UCD went in a goal to the good at half time.
The students started the second half in the same vein as they ended the first. Just seconds in, Jamie Doyle tested Hickey’s handling in the tricky conditions, only to find the Ramblers’ keeper equal to the task. Then, minutes later, after some good work by Ryan McLoughlin down the left, Eoin Kirwan flicked the ball over the last defender’s head. As the ball was dropping, he caught it sweetly on the volley, only to see his effort flash inches wide, with Hickey rooted to the spot.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Cobh found themselves level out of the blue. With their first good passage of play, Kenny and O’Sullivan combined well down the left to set the latter in after a through ball. With Corbet seemingly in control, O’Sullivan went down under the keeper’s challenge, and the referee pointed to the spot. Kenny stepped up to cooly slot home, sending Corbet the wrong way.
Ramblers threatened to take the lead minutes later. With Kenny making a nuisance of himself again, the ball fell to substitute Creamer, who snatched at the chance.
The game opened up, with both sides producing half chances as they both chased the three points. Some good play set up O’Neill, but the College playmaker drove narrowly over from 25 yards. Half chances came and went for both teams, and it looked like the game was fizzling out.
With a minute of stoppage time left, Cobh won a corner on the left. Kenny took it short, and looked to be going away from goal. Instead, he whipped a wicked cross towards the back post. With white shirts queuing up, Murphy turned the ball in past Corbet. As he raced away to celebrate, he met the linesman’s raised flag, much to his despair.
The referee blew the final whistle shortly after. A great point on the road for Cobh, but UCD will be desperately disappointed they couldn’t convert their dominance into three points.
Pundit Arena MOTM
Cobh’s best player, he gave McLaughlin a torrid time in the second half, and ultimately won a point for his side
UCD: Corbet, Leahy, McLaughlin, Kougoun, Boyle, Mulhall, O’Neill, Watson, Kirwan, Swan, Doyle
Cobh Ramblers: Hickey, O Sullivan, Mulcahy, Frahill, Murphy, Dunlea, Kenny, McCarthy, Stanton, Goldsmith, Murphy
Gavin Nugent, Pundit Arena