Letterkenny Institute of Technology 0
Dublin City University: 1
By Aidan O’Donnell at LYIT
DESPITE a heroic display from goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher, Letterkenny IT fell just short of making the semi-finals of the Colleges and Universities Football League as DCU claimed a narrow win on Wednesday afternoon.
The Finn Harps number one had proven somewhat insurmountable with a succession of fine stops throughout but was powerless to keep out the eventual winner from David Ahern twenty minutes from time.
The DCU striker was in the right place at the right time to slam home a rebound into the top corner and despite a late flurry from Niall McGonagle’s side, the visitors held on to seal their place in the last four.
The hosts had enjoyed plenty of possession in a very evenly matched contest but failed to work visiting goalkeeper Ben Dale in the same manner Gallagher was tested.
LYIT played with a sizeable breeze behind them in the first 45 minutes but failed to use it to their advantage, although the elements almost carried a Josh Mailey free-kick in over the head of Dale, only for the DCU netminder to pull off an acrobatic stop.
Gallagher was called upon for the first save of note on 18 minutes when he did well to parry a Michael Isichei drive. However, the ball fell invitingly into the path of Philip Kavanagh who failed to convert a glaring opportunity from six yards.
At the other end, Finn Harps U19 player Ryan Curran latched onto a loose clearance from a Luke O’Farrell corner before firing a 25-yard half-volley just over the bar.
Gallagher was called upon again just before half-time as he pulled off another athletic stop to deny Kavanagh.
DCU were then dealt a blow a minute before the break when Ballybofey native Rory Dunleavy accidentally collided with team-mate Philip O’Donnell, who came off the worse with a busted forehead before being replaced by Conor Ralph.
The replacement might well have given his side the lead with the first attack of the second half but Gallagher produced another vital stop as he raced from his line to narrow the angle.
Mailey, who this week joined Finn Harps, had one of the best chances for LYIT midway through the second half after the defender went on a surging run out of defence. After playing a one-two with winger Dylan Ramsey, the centre-half was denied the breakthrough by the outstretched left leg of Dale.
In a frenetic passage of play, Bohemians midfielder Stephen Traynor was guilty of not giving his side the lead as he dragged a 15-yard shot wide of the mark, while at the other end, Ramsey failed to keep a header on target from a Dean Bonner inswinger.
The breakthrough arrived twenty minutes from time when Ahern reacted quickest to angle an unstoppable effort into the top corner after Ralph saw his effort come back off the base of the post following a cutback from Isichei.
Dunleavy had the chance to make the game safe four minutes later but a defiant Gallagher was not to be beaten a second time.
LYIT had one last chance to force extra-time when Curran threaded a delightful through-ball for Bonner but just as the full-back was about to pull the trigger, Mark Logan produced a wonderful last-ditch block to ensure his side progressed to the semi-finals.
For LYIT, their attentions now switch to a second round meeting in the CFAI Cup away to Cork IT on Wednesday night.
LYIT: Ciaran Gallagher; Ryan Toland, Josh Mailey, Eoin Barrett, Dean Bonner; Dylan Ramsey, Ryan Curran, Barry McNamee, Luke O’Farrell, Anthony Appiah; Jordan Duffy. Subs: Aaron Harley (Appiah, h.t), Johnny Logue (Ramsey, 74 mins).
DCU: Ben Dale; Mark Logan, Gavin McArdle, Robbie Gaul, David Gaul; Philip Kavanagh, Rory Dunleavy, Stephen Traynor, Philip O’Donnell; Michael Isichei, David Ahern. Subs: Conor Ralph (O’Donnell, 44 mins), Darren Craven (D. Gaul, 80 mins).
Referee: Steven Toner.
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