UCD AFC 5
Pats CY 0
What a difference a fortnight makes. The initial tie which preceded this FAI Intermediate Cup semi-final replay proved tentative, scrappy and, at times, downright boring, yet Sunday morning’s second bite of the cherry was, despite what the scoreline suggests, open, competitive and a joy to watch.
On a weekend when the finalists of the FAI Junior and Intermediate Cups were finally revealed, UCD won by the biggest margin of all four semi-finals, putting five unanswered goals past a game, but limited Pats CY at the Belfield Bowl.
They will, however, be heavy underdogs for their first appearance in an Intermediate Cup final, when they’ll try to derail champions Avondale United’s quest for a record-equaling four -in-a-row at Turners Cross on Saturday, May 10th.
Despite fielding an identical starting XI, UCD were almost unrecognisable from the vapid, cautious side that played in the Ringsend Astro, and subjected Pats to an all out blitz in the opening quarter, which ultimately decided the tie.
Almost exclusively down the left flank, the students opened up their guests at will during this time, and the two goal return yielded would have been greater if not for Pats’ keeper Darren McGarry.
Tim Molloy opened the scoring after eight minutes, when Marc Whelan’s looping header from Conor Cannon’s floated cross was palmed into his path by McGarry, leaving him the simplest of tap-ins.
The advantage was almost doubled moments later, but for McGarry acrobatically saving Niall Wright’s reflex header from close in. The second arrived soon thereafter, as Michael Whelan teed up Fran Moran’s pass before cracking an effort past McGarry at the far post.
Whelan was then denied by McGarry, who parried his swerving half-volley to safety, and it felt as though Pats had already checked out mentally, but they regrouped admirably, and controlled the rest of the half in terms of possession and territory, without ever troubling Sean Coffey in the UCD goal.
After the break the outstanding Alan Murphy and Thomas Dunne began finding space in the right areas, passing intelligently and, in turn, inspired their teammates. Dunne narrowly missed the target with a fine strike, after running onto Jay Doyle’s measured through ball.
Dunne then returned the favour; finding Doyle with a flicked header, but the winger’s drive hit the side-netting. That was as good as it got for Pats, and just after the hour, UCD turned the screw once more.
Michael Whelan lofted a free kick into the Pats’ box which was headed on by the unmarked Steve Dillon, with Marc Whelan on hand to side-foot home from point blank range.
Four minutes later Pats’ vulnerability at set-piece cost them once more, when full-back Brian O’Reilly-in acres of space-headed Whelan’s corner past McGarry with relative ease.
In the 76th minute Marc Whelan dispossessed Leo Ridgeway, who hesitated in clearing his lines, before finding Cannon, and he beat McGarry at the near post with a ferocious drive, completing the rout and capping off an energetic, unselfish personal performance.
Man of the Match: Michael Whelan. Scored one, created two, and was a live wire throughout.