UCD manager Collie O’Neill says the SSE Airtricity League First Division title, and the promotion that goes with it, is there for the taking if his squad continue to work hard.
The Students edged closer to the title with a 4-1 win over Cabinteely at Belfield on Friday, but O’Neill isn’t counting his chickens with four games left to play.
“I don’t hear any fat ladies singing just yet. We’ve an awful lot of hard work still to do. We’ve some tough games coming up, starting with Cobh in a couple of weeks. There’s no way that Hendo’s (Stephen Henderson) team will lie down and give you anything easy.”
‘If we’re going to get the prize at the end of the season, we’re going to have to work really hard for it.’
Friday’s result guaranteed College at least a play-off place. With a seven point gap back to second place, and just four games left to be played, the title is surely UCD’s to lose.
O’Neill’s side and Cabo have produced some high scoring games over the last couple of seasons. Pat Devlin’s charges held the Indian sign over their N11 rivals recently, winning two of the previous three games, including their most recent meeting at Stradbrook in May.
“Nothing is ever straight forward against Cabinteely. They closed us down well, and made it difficult, but I was impressed with our performance tonight. It was really good.”
While the Students looked comfortable, with goals from Yoyo Mahdy, and two from Jason McClelland, following skipper Gary O’Neill’s early penalty, O’Neill reserved particular praise afterwards for Cabo’s goal, scored by Marty Waters.
The former Student hit a beauty of a shot from the edge of the box, curling it into the far corner, and beating Conor Kearns with the help of the upright.
“It really was a really good goal. We said on social media during the week, “fiver in, and we’ll give you a better game than Arsenal versus Chelsea at the Aviva in mid-week.” Anybody who came here and saw that goal by Marty got their money’s worth because it was a piece of quality.”
The College boss confirmed afterwards that Daire O’Connor’s departure before half-time was just precautionary.
“He was cramping up, but he should be ok for the next game.”
UCD signed Conor Davis from Reading during the week, and he got about the place during his twenty-five minutes on the park.
“He’s a good player. He’s lively, his hold up play is very, very good, and he’s got clever movement. We’ve an abundance of players like that around the club, and that’s probably why we’re in the position we’re in.”
Next up for UCD is the visit of non-League Pike Rovers in the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup. O’Neill says he’s taking nothing for granted.
“We’ve struggled with non-League teams when we’ve got them in the Cup. My first year here as manager, Sheriff YC knocked us out. There’s good momentum there in the team.
“The work-rate tonight was tremendous. We didn’t give Cabinteely a chance to settle, and we’ll be looking for that same level of performance against Pike Rovers.”