UCD were knocked out of the SSE Airtricity League of Ireland First Division playoffs on Saturday, after a heartbreaking 2-3 loss to Longford Town. The Students will now focus on the next season in the First Division.
The hosts took an early lead in the opening twenty minutes, as one of the First Division top goal-scorers, Colm Whelan was at his usual best. He found the back of the net in the 17th minute for UCD; a lead which they held onto for the remainder of the half, despite the best efforts of their guests.
Both sides clearly felt the pressure of the match, as tensions began to mount in the second half. With their lead not fully secure, the Students continued to apply pressure on their opposition, and their discipline began to slip under the frustration of not scoring.
The hosts received four yellow cards in their efforts to get a second goal, with Evan Farrell, Luke Boore, Lorcan Healy and Liam Kerrigan all entering the referee’s book. These lapses seemed not to matter though, as the minutes ticked down to what was going to be a hard-fought, one-goal win for the hosts.
This was not to be, however, as in the final minute of regular time, Joe Gorman scored for Longford to level the scores. UCD tried in vain for the seven minutes of injury time that remained to avoid going to extra time. Neither side was able to pull ahead in the first period of extra time.
As the second period of extra time kicked off, the Students took the early advantage through the boot of the other prolific goal-scorer in the UCD side, Yoyo Mahdy. This lead was short-lived, though, as Gorman added a second goal with just six minutes left.
The Students struggled to get one back with the little time left on the clock, or at the very least force the match into penalties. Their heartbreak was complete in the last minute of extra time, as Dean Byrne emulated his teammate in regular time to score the match-winning goal.
This loss means that UCD will not be heading into the premier division of the League of Ireland, and will focus their attention on next season, when they will hope to go one game further than they did this season.