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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
# graduation day
UCD retain their Premier Division status after a dramatic play-off win over Waterford
UCD defeated Waterford 1-0 to retain their top-flight status.

UCD RETAINED THEIR Premier Division status with an incredible defensive display, overcoming Waterford in the most dramatic of fashions in a replay of last season’s relegation/promotion play-off.

Free scoring Waterford FC, favourites prior to kick-off, started brightly in front of a boisterous travelling support. Young Player of the Year nominee Phoenix Patterson had two chances within the first two minutes signalling their intent.

Having done well to get to this stage, and having been pretty much written off by most neutrals, the Students responded brilliantly and scored the game’s opening goal on 15 minutes.

It stemmed from the moment Alex Baptiste brought down Alex Nolan on the right wing. Nolan dusted himself down and sent in an inswinging delivery, which was then sharply nodded home by the Irish under-19 International Tommy Lonergan.

The Blues really should have levelled just before the half hour mark following an almighty goalmouth scramble in which Shane Griffin and Patterson were resisted by some fine UCD defending.

thomas-lonergan-and-alex-baptiste Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Thomas Lonergan and Alex Baptiste. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

Waterford had the majority of the ball for the remainder of the half but, with nothing to show for their dominance in the final third, frustration began to become an issue, as Tunmise Sobowale and Niall O’Keefe tried overly ambitious efforts at goal.

Waterford’s pressure continued to mount in the second half. UCD defended impressively in response.

The colossal Todd again was on hand again to bravely deny Sobowale at the vital moment just as it looked like the right back was free in the area.

With less than five minutes to go, many of the 2,781 in attendance thought they were headed for extra time only for Kilian Cantwell’s powerful shot to fly inches wide of the post.

In the most dramatic of endings, frustration got the better of skipper Cantwell who was sent off for a second yellow card, before Danny Searle’s side were gifted the perfect opportunity to level in the 94th minute. 

Substitute Raul Uche’s volley looked to be blocked by the arm of Jack Keaney in the area. Junior Quitirna took responsibility but blazed over the bar with pretty much the last kick of the game.

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UCD AFC: Kian Moore, Michael Gallagher, Jack Keaney, Sam Todd, Evan Osam,  Mark Dignam, Sean Brennan, Evan Caffrey, Alex Nolan (Donal Higgins, 83’), Dara Keane,  Thomas Lonergan, 

Subs not used: Lorcan Healy, John Haist, Tobi Jinad, Harvey O’Brien, Aaron Corish, Jamie Duggan, Danny Norris, Harry O’Connor

Waterford FC: Paul Martin, Tunmise Sobowale (Raul Uche, 77’), Alex Baptiste, Kilian Cantwell, Darragh Power, Niall O’Keefe, Junior Quitirna, Shane Griffin, Yassine En-Neyah (Dean Larkin, 90’), Phoenix Patterson, Wassim Aouchria

Subs not used: Brian Murphy, Richard Taylor, Eddie Nolan, Timi Sobowale, Jeremie Milambo, Remi Thompson, Owen Oseni

Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin)

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