UCD booked their place in the SSE Airtricity League of Ireland First Division playoffs with a 2-2 draw with Galway on Tuesday. The draw secured their third place on the overall table, and set them up for a knockout clash on Saturday.
The visitors got off to a troubling start, as Luke Boore was entered into the referee’s book in the first five minutes. Mikey Place was shown yellow for Galway as well ten minutes later.
It took almost the full first half for the hosts to take the lead with the first goal of the match going to Stephen Christopher in the 43rd minute. Galway held onto their lead for the remainder of the half.
The second half got underway, with Galway this time being penalised early and Shane Doherty being shown yellow. For much of the second half, the tension continued to build, as UCD knew that a loss could see them in danger of not making the playoffs.
Evan Weir got the equaliser for the Students with just ten minutes left to play, which seemed to spark both teams into action for the final couple of minutes. A yellow card to Harry McEvoy did not hinder the visitors, as Weir added his second of the day in the 89th minute of the game..
The Students would have been confident of their come-from-behind victory, however the addition of six minutes of extra time proved to be their undoing. Shane Duggan scored in the 96th minute for Galway, and earning themselves a 2-2 draw.
While UCD would be disappointed to give up the win so late in the game, the draw was enough for them to keep their position at third in the overall log. Galway, who were hoping to break into the top four, ended their season in sixth, just two points behind fourth-placed Longford Town.
Drogheda United were crowned champions, after they topped the table on 39 points. Bray rounded out their regular season finishing in second, just one point behind Drogheda.
As it stands, UCD will host Longford Town in their playoff match on Saturday, with Bray hosting either Cabinteely or Galway.
These matches are not final, though, as an appeal by Wexford Youths after they were forced to forfeit four matches for fielding an ineligible player could see them win back some of their points.
Should Wexford succeed, Cabinteely would lose two points and their play-off place would go to sixth-placed Galway.
Stephen Kisbey-Green – Co-Editor