FAI Intermediate Cup Semi Final
St Pats CY 0
UCD AFC 0
Speaking to the JSP earlier in the week, Pats CY manager Derek Bowden said he expected his side’s FAI Intermediate Cup semi-final showdown with fellow LSL Senior Division Sunday outfit UCD to be wide open and contested with reckless abandon-unfortunately he was mistaken.
It was the not the ideal curtain-raiser for such an important weekend of football, and it’s probably fair to say today’s other semi-final in Frank Cooke Park between Tolka Rovers and champions Avondale United will make for more compelling viewing.
Ironically, had this been a league encounter, with both team’s divisional status at stake, Bowden’s prediction would have likely proved accurate. A spot in the final of one of amateur soccer’s great tournaments somehow does not conjure the same intensity and will to win as remaining in the LSL’s top flight.
Dismal weather conditions prior to kick-off ensured the large crown expected at the Ringsend Astro was greatly reduced, in turn muting the atmosphere. However, it was the lack of pageantry and occasion that is always afforded to the junior counterpart of this competition which was most tangibly absent-but that’s a problem for the powers that be, not the clubs.
UCD, despite dominating possession and territory in the first half, were curiously conservative, and their passing, particularly in the middle third, lacked its customary urgency and purpose.
They were set up noticeably narrow, with wingers Marc and Michael Whelan stationed more and more centrally as the game progressed. Subsequently, full backs Brian O’Reilly and Niall Wright rarely ventured forward for overlaps and striker Conor Canon cut an isolated figure throughout.
Starting tentatively, it was the second half before the hosts applied any intensity to their press game, but once they did, the students looked very ordinary. Despite UCD’s relative control in the early goings, it was Pats who came closest to breaking the deadlock.
Just after the half hour Mick Caffrey’s drive had the beating of UCD keeper Sean Coffey, but narrowly evaded the far post. Captain Andy Doolin’s header thumped the upright when he jumped unimpeded to meet a beautifully whipped Thomas Dunne cross from the left.
Indeed it was Dunne who was the day’s standout performer; his touch and footballing acumen made him a class apart, however, positioned wide on the left for the first 80 minutes, his influence was frustratingly peripheral.
The chances sandwiched Tim Molloy’s curling effort from 20 yards which was acrobatically felled by Darren McGarry in the Pats CY net.
McGarry saved Marc Whelan’s powerful volley just after the restart, that would prove the last significant threat on either goal. Evidently the prospect of a draw and a replay in the Belfield Bowl in a week’s time was a pleasing outcome for both parties, and so it will be.
Man of the Match: Thomas Dunne. The striker has scored at will during this cup run, but it was the other facets of his play-movement and vision-which stood out here.