12/12/2019: Kildare 2-0 UCFL
UCFL exit Oscar Traynor Trophy

The UCFL are out of the 2019/20 Oscar Traynor Trophy after falling to their second loss in the competition on Wednesday night, going down 0-2 to the Kildare & District League on a chilly night in Kilcullen.

Though the UCFL had chances, Kildare undoubtedly deserved their victory, hitting the woodwork on two occasions before half-time, then taking the lead through a brilliant strike from JP McDonagh on 59 minutes, before the same player sealed victory for his team with a tap-in 20 minutes later.

Kildare will now take on Kilkenny at the same venue next Sunday to determine which of these two teams advance to the knockout stages as group winners, while the UCFL are left to reflect on another frustrating night as much good play failed to yield any tangible reward.

Following their 0-3 defeat to Kilkenny in November, the UCFL went into the game against Kildare knowing that they had to win to maintain realistic hopes of progressing further in the competition. The opening half hour saw both teams adopt a positive attitude, though there were few clear-cut chances, Kildare going close after 10 minutes, when Sean Farrell’s shot was deflected narrowly wide. Kildare had a couple of other fleeting half-chances during the rest of that period, while the UCFL’s best effort came on 28 minutes as Ayuba Salauhadeen got on the end of a fine move only to shoot straight at the keeper under pressure from a defender.

Despite the even nature of the contest, there were ominous signs for the UCFL as the half closed, a terrific 20 yard shot from McDonagh bouncing over off the UCFL crossbar and then on half-time, Dylan Connolly evaded Mick Kinsella’s tackle before seeing his shot bounce away to safety via a post.

The second half kicked off with the outcome very much in the balance. The UCFL’s Mick Kinsella did well to get on the end of a free kick floated into the box by half-time substitute, Seamus Staunton, but was unable to get sufficient power into his header to trouble Kevin Higgins in the Kildare goal. With Dylan Kelly increasingly prominent down the left wing and Gavin O’Keeffe getting used to the pace of the game, hopes for a victory began to rise. But Kildare responded well and began to threaten again themselves. Frewen had to get down sharply to stop a snap shot on 53 minutes, but the breakthrough Kildare were seeking arrived on 58 minutes when JP McDonagh somehow found himself with the space to send a brilliant shot from outside the area low into Frewen’s left hand corner.

Kildare and their supporters reacted with delight to the goal, but there was still much work to do to secure victory, as the UCFL sought the goal which would bring them back into the game. Seamus Staunton stepped around a defender inside the area before shooting wide and then on 71 minutes, Dylan Kelly produced a fine piece of play down the left wing before a quick exchange of passes left him with a clear sight of goal 10 yards out, but his shot was too close to the Higgins.

However, as the game wore on and entered its final stages, Kildare appeared to grow in confidence while belief drained from the UCFL team and the result was eventually put beyond doubt after 79 minutes. A fine free-kick drew a fine initial save from Frewen, but JP McDonagh was first to react, following up to force the ball home for the goal which ended the game as a contest.

Deep into injury time, Gavin O’Keeffe chased a long through ball, but a disappointing night for the UCFL was complete when his attempted lob was easily held by Higgins.

UCFL – David Frewen (VEC FC), Peter O’Brien (VEC FC), Fiachra Spellman (Harding IF FC), Robert Baxter (Tallaght Utd), Conal O’Shaughnessy (VEC FC), Mick Kinsella (VEC), Kevin Sesela (Glasnaion), Ayuba Salaudeen (Castle Celtic), Dylan Kelly (Tallaght Utd), Gavin O’Keeffe (South William Street Celtic), Gavin Murphy (C) (VEC FC). Subs – Seamus Staunton (VEC FC) for Baxter, 45mins; Andy Hedderman (Glasnaion FC) for Sesela, 57mins; Luke Brown (Coolock Village) for O’Brien, 65mins; Neil Love (South William Street Celtic) for O’Shaughnessy, 84mins; Conor Blain (Coolock Village), Ian Webb (Glasnaion).

Kildare & District League – Keith Higgins, Shane Foley, Aaron Mullins, Keane Cully, JP Higgins (C), Mark Boland, Shane Bennett, Dylan Connolly, JP McDonagh, Sean Farrell, John Fennell. Subs – Ian Doyle, Noel Byrne, Murt Brennan, Nathan Robinson, Olly Dunne, Kevin McDonnell.

Team photo:

Back (left to right): Peter O’Brien, David Frewen, Conal O’Shaughnessy, Fiachra Spellman, Mick Kinsella, Ayuba Salaudeen.

Front: Robert Baxter, Gavin O’Keeffe, Gavin Murphy, Kevin Sesela, Dylan Kelly.

15/12/2019 00:11