|15th Feb 2023
|Mark Nolan (Fixtures Secretary)
|Inver Park, Larne
Collingwood Cup Final
UCD 3-2 University of Limerick
University of Limerick’s quest to claim a maiden Collingwood Cup title came to an agonizing end as Ronan Cowhey scored a 92nd minute winner for UCD in a dramatic five-goal final at Inver Park, Larne, on Wednesday afternoon.
The first half was a very tight affair as UL took the game to their much fancied opponents. In fact, the Limerick men created the best of the chances in the opening 45 minutes with Eoin Redmond’s surging runs from midfield creating plenty of problems for the Dubliners to deal with.
His midfield partner Conor Butler delivered a couple of really dangerous crosses throughout the half, but unfortunately they failed to meet their intended targets.
The toll of three games in three days was clear to see as UL were forced to make an early substitution with the influential David McCarthy forced off with a muscular injury.
Leon Daly came on for his fellow Clareman and his pace helped to stretch the UCD back four. The Dublin side looked dangerous when they counterattacked but were reduced to taking speculative efforts from long range.
UL goalkeeper Josh Coady was forced to make a good save just after half an hour, but he had a relatively quiet half other than that.
Limerick came inches away from taking the lead from a 41st minute corner. Adam Foley played the ball to Joey Rushe, the Regional United man delivered a perfect cross to the area where Tom Carney thundered a header just wide.
That was the last action of note in the opening half with Limerick heading into the dressing room the happier of the two sides.
UCD the second half with real intent and looked to put UL on the back foot. Limerick held off the initial onslaught, but they was nothing they could do to stop the opening goal.
A loose pass in midfield was picked up and played to Ciaran Behan outside the UL area. Behan then pulled the trigger and rocketed the ball into the top corner of the UL net.
Time and time again this UL side has shown admirable character and determination and that was evidenced by their response to falling behind.
From a 65th minute corner Tom Carney rose the highest and headed Limerick right back into the game, 1-1.
However, the game wouldn’t be level for long as Behan once again produced a stunning finish to curl UCD back into the ascendency with 67 minutes on the clock, 2-1.
UL looked to change things up and the introduction of fresh legs paid dividends. Theo Joyce’s pace on the left wing combined with Daly’s on the right gave the Limerick side plenty of options going forward.
A Limerick substitute would have a huge impact on the game with his first action in the game. Cillian Duffy was brought on in the 75th minute and he delivered one of his trademark long throw-ins. Eoin Redmond flicked the ball towards the back post where Adam Foley reacted quickly to slide in an equaliser for UL and make it 2-2.
Tiredness was becoming a factor now as the match wore on with both sides creating half chances in their bid to take a decisive lead. UCD saw a good effort denied, thanks to a superb save from Coady.
Just when it seemed like extra-time would be required, UCD drove a dagger into the heart of UL. A ball was lofted into the UL penalty area and Cowhey headed home the match winner in the 92nd minute.
Time was against the Shannonsiders who threw bodies forward for a final corner. The ball made its way to Duffy who managed to get a shot off on goal, but it was saved by the UCD keeper in the final act of the game.
The wait for an historic first ever Collingwood Cup continues for UL but they can hold their heads high after a valiant effort in Belfast this week.
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