UCD have traditionally proved a bogey team for Cork and so it proved once again as UCD punished a Cork team that was lethargic and indulgent, by taking two points.
In truth, UCD were not stretched until the closing quarter in coping with a Cork side who played with little urgency until it was obvious they were in great danger of dropping vital points.
Cork stepped up the tempo and injected a level of purpose into their game in the closing 15 minutes and finally they succeeded in forcing UCD into error and creating a couple of worthwhile scoring chances.
Kevin Doyle shot across goal and narrowly wide after 78 minutes, George O’Callaghan had a powerful header saved by goalkeeper, and Darren Quigley and O’Callaghan shot carelessly over from 25 yards, as Cork finally showed a level of initiative in their opponent’s half of the pitch.
It was too little too late of course, for by then UCD could sense an upset result and were not prepared to concede. Cork’s predictable and careless opening-half performance had set the mood and UCD grew in confidence so they were full of fire and determination in the face of Cork’s late rally.
In the circumstances it was all too easy for Cork fans to recall the memory of last season’s cup defeat and the error-ridden display of a team that looked over-confident from the beginning, meant they were unable to exert any control either on the tempo or the trend of the game.
UCD’s battling performance was facilitated by the success enjoyed in central midfield by Gary Dicker and Steven Hurley, whose work ethic meant that Cork were unable to exert control in this area.
Their good influence was augmented by dominant centre backs Tony McDonnell and Alan McNally and with goalkeeper, Darren Quigley playing with lots of confidence, UCD were untroubled and secure in their play until that closing quarter.
Indeed, they were unlucky not to jump in front in the 24th minute of the match when Dicker picked up a poor clearance following a corner kick and found Anthony Murphy unmarked in the right-hand corner of the penalty area. His shot beat goalkeeper, Michael Devine and was prevented from going into the net by full back Danny Murphy.
UCD’s winger Anthony Murphy was one of their leading players in that opening half when he enjoyed a lot of success as he thrived on an excellent service from his midfielders. Sadly for Cork, they were unable to provide the same level of service to their front runners and in consequence, Denis Behan and Kevin Doyle were unable to influence the game as much as you would have expected given their recent good form.
CORK CITY: Devine, Horgan, Bennett, Murray, Murphy, Woods, Gamble, O’Callaghan, Kearney, Doyle, Behan, subs; Fenn for Behan 79 mins, O’Donovan for Kearney 87 mins.
UCD: Quigley, Mahon, McNally, McDonnell, O’Donnell, Murphy, Dicker, Hurley, McWalter, Martin, Dupuy, subs. Sammon for Dupuy 57 mins, Kerins for Murphy 84 mins, Lynch for Martin 90 mins.
Referee: D. McKeon (Dublin).