CIE’s cup run comes to end of line in Greenogue

by Dave Donnelly

CIE Ranch came agonisingly close to making history and reaching the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup only to be cruelly denied at the last moment.

The Ranch led 2-1 going into the final moments of normal time despite having lost captain Gary O’Sullivan to a red card 15 minutes earlier.

Jason McClelland was the hitman for UCD, firing a low shot past the excellent Sean Brazil to force extra time, where UCD’s man advantage saw them add four goals against an exhausted Ranch side.

So, while the Students will take their place in the last eight of the cup for the second time in three years, the amateur side’s near brush with infamy was the story of the round.

It began so well for Keith Cronin’s men, who were playing just their third game of the season after gaining promotion from LSL Sunday Senior 1B as champions last year.

Having battled to keep the game in the local area rather than ceding home advantage to UCD, Ranch hosted the game at Greenogue, the home of Peamount United.

Ranch started like a house on fire and led as early as the sixth minute thanks to a slick passing move that belied their status as amateurs.

Dean O’Brien – who scored the injury-time winner in the previous round against Dublin Bus – picked out Graham Griffiths wide on the right and his low cross was turned into his own goal by Dan Tobin.

It got even better for the Inchicore side nine minutes later as Glenn McCabe’s corner from the right was met by the head of defender Eddie Smith to make it 2-0 to the home side.

Yoyo Mahdy pulled one back for the Students shortly afterwards with a low shot past Sean Brazil in the Ranch goal.

That’s how it remained at half time, Brazil pulling off another fine save five minutes from the break to pick a curling Kevin Coffey shot out of the top corner.

Brazil’s fine performance continued into the second half and he had to be at full stretch to deny the impressive McClelland, whose header from Gary O’Neill’s corner looked bound for the net.

Having weathered an onslaught, Ranch were looking increasingly likely to hold out for a shot at the big boys in the final eight.

That continued even after captain Gary Sullivan was sent off for a weary lunge through the back of UCD forward Conor Davis.

McClelland had other ideas and he scored to force an extra 30 minutes, but not before Ranch were convinced an injury-time header from Smith had crossed the UCD line.

That last effort took the final bit of steam Ranch had to offer, and they were overrun in extra time, and sub Sean McDonald hooked the ball over Brazil to put UCD ahead for the first time.

Mahdy then made it 4-2 with a low shot before McClelland made it five with a wonderful solo effort, and O’Neill added the sixth late on with a tidy finish.

UCD have been drawn at home to Premier Division Waterford in the quarter-finals to be played on September 7.

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