There was penalty shoot-out drama at Dalymount Park on Monday night as Bohemians overcame UCD in a tense EA Sports Cup second round tie.
Just three of Easter Monday’s eight scheduled fixtures went ahead as heavy rain caused games to be postponed across the country, and this was the only one of four in the capital to go ahead.
St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers saw their ties with Dundalk and Longford Town rained off, while St Mochta’s first round game with Drogheda United was also unplayable.
Bohemians looked set to rue the referee’s decision to proceed as they fell into a 2-0 deficit by half time as the Students put on a display of quick-passing football.
Daire O’Connor was the creative force behind both goals: his pass set up Yoyo Mahdy for the opener, before captain Gary O’Neill curled home a stunning second.
O’Neill’s strike was a thing of beauty, started by O’Connor as he won possession in the middle before fixing a defender to create the angle for the sublime finish.
Bohs were a changed side after the break, however, and they pulled one back early on through former Leeds United striker Eoghan Stokes.
It was the ingenuity and raw pace of 18-year-old Grant that led to the opportunity for Stokes, who had just moved up front in a tactical switch that reaped instant rewards.
They levelled eight minutes from time through JJ Lunney’s penalty after Grant had outstripped sub left-back Darragh Corcoran before being dragged down.
The sides couldn’t be separated by 30 minutes of extra time, and the first three penalties from each side were also on target.
Lunney stepped up again and this time saw his spot-kick saved by UCD keeper Conor Kearns, only for wicked backspin to then see the ball kick back and over the line.
Bohs keeper Colin McCabe was the hero then as he saved from UCD substitute Paul Doyle, and Stokes stroked home his penalty to send the Gypsies into the quarter-final.
“I was just watching it spinning and spinning and I was hoping he wasn’t going to get up and save it,” the shoot-out hero McCabe told the Dublin Gazette of Lunney’s fortunate finish.
“I thought we could have gone on and got the third in the second half. We made the saves and had gotten the goals.
“I was just hoping, for all our hard work, we didn’t concede one, for all our effort we put in in the second half.”
“Penalty shoot-outs are just a bit of luck here and there. Fortunately, he saved it and it just didn’t stay out, and when I saved it it did stay out. That was the difference in the end.”
UCD manager Collie O’Neill told the Dublin Gazette: “It is a little bit hard to take but we only have ourselves to blame.
“We were excellent in the first half, deserved to be 2-0 up, and had enough chances in the second half to put it to bed.
“Even when they got the one back, we basically broke straight away and Daire was clean through one-on-one.
“It’s a little bit hard to take when you’ve had the chance to go and put it to bed and just got done in the end.
“It comes down to lack of experience. When Bohs got the first goal back, they panicked a little because it got the crowd up a little bit. It’s something that we’ll learn from.”