In a dress rehearsal for next Sundays St Michaels Cup semi-final, UCC beat Corkbeg by three goals to one in The Farm on a blustery Sunday morning. The game was a scrappy affair from start to finish, with a very strong wind and bitterly cold conditions making good football impossible.
The opening half was very scrappy, with neither side creating anything clearcut. UCC, playing with the aid of the strong wind in the first 45 minutes, looked the more likely to make the breakthrough, but all they could muster were speculative efforts from long range. Corkbeg were under the cosh a little in the opening half, despite good displays from Ryan Forde, Dylan O Neill & Tom Smyth. The closest either side came was a decent free-kick from 25 yards from UCC centre back Kevin Russell, but it was comfortably saved by Corkbeg goalkeeper Eric Higgins.
Ultimately, it was substitutions won the game for UCC. The introduction of former Leeds & Glenthorn man Dean Buckley and Luke Magee was a game changer. They were suddenly sharper, quicker and more direct. Buckley, Ben Prange and Ben O Neill all spurned glorious opportunities for an opening goal, before Dean Buckley rifled home a free kick from 19 yards with the aid of a big deflection to open the scoring on 65 minutes. One became two only 5 minutes later, when a mistake at the back, left UCC substitute Pablo Mato in the clear and he beat Eric Higgins with almost his first touch of the ball for a 2-0 lead.
Corkbeg huffed and puffed after this and had a few speculative efforts at goal from Jordan Ryan, Alan Hogan and the impressive Daragh O Mahony, which were very comfortably dealt with by UCC goalkeeper Desmond Archer. After a spell of pressure, Corkbeg eventually got a goal back with 4 minutes remaining, when Tariq Tynan fired into the top corner from 10 yards, when a ball into the box wasn’t properly cleared. But as Corkbeg pushed on to save a point from the game, UCC broke away and Eric Higgins was called upon to make a great save from UCC substitute Eoghan Vaughan.
Corkbeg were still keeping the pressure in the UCC half, but were caught again in the games final act and Buckley fired in his second goal after Eric Higgins had saved Ben O Neills close range strike, to complete the scoring.
Corkbeg: E. Higgins, A. Horgan, D. O Mahony, T. Smyth, S. O Halloran, A. Creedon, D. O Neill, J. Ryan, A. Hogan, R. Forde, T. Tynan. Sub: L. O Brien for A. Hogan(70mins)
UCC: D. Archer, M. Ellis, A. Barrett, K. Russell, D. Behan, C. O Regan, B. Prange, J. Agus Aguin, B. O Neill, E. O Sullivan, C. Murphy. Subs: P. Mato, E. Vaughan, D. Buckley, S. Buckley, L. Magee, R. Mulhall, F. Abdullah