A 3-0 win in the first leg helped UCD AFC progress past Limerick side Treaty United in the league of Ireland First Division playoff semi-finals. United came to the Bowl on Sunday night with a massive task of overturning the first-leg deficit, but could only manage a 2-1 win giving the students a comfortable 4-2 aggregate victory.
Two late goals from the league’s top scorer, Colm Whelan, and a first-half own-goal from Tadgh Ryan had put UCD in the driving seat heading into Sunday’s second leg. A flat Treaty United allowed Whelan to capitalise leaving the Limerick side with a momentous task for the second leg.
Treaty United came to the Bowl knowing they had to take the game to the students and they did just that, taking the lead in the first ten minutes. A defensive mix up allowed Conor Melody to capitalise with a well-struck effort nestling into the bottom corner.
Things were about to get worse for UCD when Treaty United doubled their advantage. UCD striker Colm Whelan came close but it was defender Anthony O’Donnell who put the Limerick side within touching distance of a stunning comeback. A Stephen Cristopher cross found the left back’s head and suddenly UCD were dangerously close to throwing away their first-leg advantage.
The game soon took another turn as Treaty United were reduced to ten men, killing their momentum. A clumsy challenge on Evan Farrell meant Cristopher had his marching orders just minutes after helping his side to claw a goal back.
With an extra man, UCD effectively managed the game by keeping possession and slowing the tempo of the game. The students were able to claw one goal back with a close-range effort for Adam Verdon with just over 20 minutes to go and managed to comfortably see out the rest of the game.
The win means UCD progress to the playoff final against Bray Wanderers in a neutral venue in two weeks time in what will certainly be a high stakes affair.
Conor Paterson – Co-Editor