Colm Whelan 68

Paul Doyle 87

Promotion Playoff Final

Dalymount Park
19 Nov 2021

Two goals of real quality brought UCD to the Playoff Final proper, where they will face Waterford, and Bray must soldier on in the First Division for at least another season.

Until Colm Whelan scored in the 68th minute, beating his Under-21 Ireland team-mate Brian Maher, there had been little enough to choose between the sides, but the goal seemed to invigorate the Students to the extent that the Wanderers were largely limited to counter-attacks for a time.

And when Paul Doyle doubled their advantage with less than five minutes left on the clock, Bray heads fell visibly.

They had played a good game, robust as these derbies usually are, and their defeat in the last game of the season was no disgrace.

Honours were, after a fashion, even in the first period, with UCD dominated for a quarter of an hour, followed by the Seagulls pressing in the next and both attacking in the final 15 minutes.

The enthusiasm of the large Wicklow contingent among the attendance overflowed at times, and finally the stadium announcer had to appeal for no further streamers to be thrown onto the pitch.

Before matters settled down in the opening minutes, Referee Oliver Moran had to source a replacement flag for Assistant Eoin Harte, his own apparently suffering some form of IT malfunction.

Constant tackles and early frees perhaps indicated that both sides were determined at the outcome, and Aaron Barry got a talking-to after he ran into Dara Keane, but the Students' captain took the free and sent it comfortably over Maher's crossbar.

Joe Doyle made a strong run to get behind Harvey O'Brien for a long ball from Barry, and between them they kept it in play, but it was O'Brien who got to it to clear. Doyle, however, was in some discomfort afterwards.

A Brandon Kavanagh cross at the end of another probing manoeuvre was cut out near the font post. Liam Kerrigan. making a run, evaded a late-ish tackle by Richie O'Farrell, but was tripped a second later by Dylan Barnett, the ensuing free taken where the first offence occurred.

Doyle, on a stylish run up the right line, was bundled out of play by Sam Todd, who earned himself a caution much to the displeasure of his colleagues who felt that earlier Bray fouls were just as deserving of sanction.

A 16th minute Darren Craven corner flew just too far for the crowded area, and from the eventual clearance Maher raced forward to chest down and clear as Whelan raced towards him.

Barnett ran well after a long Barry ball but though Joe Doyle was free in the area, the cross was misdirected behind the goal.

A Paul Doyle free on the centre circle reached Whelan, but he headed into the side-net, and Maher's long clearance found Kavanagh, who was played onside by the UCD defence until he reached the area, when Evan Osam, with what appeared a combination of pull and hand managed to see it out: no handball, no foul, just a corner, Craven's flag-kick headed wide by Joe Doyle.

A post-corner defensive ball back out of attack for Lorcan Healy was chased by Craven, who got close enough to turn and block the UCD keeper's clearance, but the ball skewed wide rather than goalwards, and Healy was able to claim on the very edge of the area.

This was high-octane football, both sides demonstrating polished passing, but Bray a fraction slower to react than the College.

For a 20m free in a dangerous central position, Bray again used the man lying device (a player prone immediate behind the wall, to protect against the low ball as the wall jumps), but Paul Doyle sent it low a little to the left of the wall, straight into Maher's embrace.

Following an attack that saw Whelan find the side-netting again, the ball once more in UCD's half, Kerrigan got by O'Farrell and then sprinted past Barnett, his attempted cross blocked out by Barry.

With time running down, Kerrigan ;aunched a long feed for Keane who turned at the endline and cut back to Whelan, whose shot came back of Maer's left-hand post., and a minute later Michael Gallagher tried hsi luck from the right but lacked accuracy.

Scoreless at the break was probably a little flattering for Bray, who had come dangerously close to conceding.

In the opening minutes after the restart, the Seagulls semeed to be setting the pace, and Graydon was hard done by when Gallagher stopped his gallop on the edge of Healy's area, the Referee playing on and then awarding a free out to a UCD plsyer who ran into a Bray man.

After a nice passage of play soon after, Kavanagh was unlucky when his shot took a high deflection off a midfielder, allowing Healy to claim without difficulty. Eleven minutes in, Maher did well with a foot when unexpectedly Whelan emerged in a rush after a ball that had seemed to be going nowhere allowing Barry to slow.

The Bray keeper was lucky a moment later, too, when the bounce of a long ball allowed Whelan to cathc up with Quinn, and Maher, coming forard and tripnng over Whelan's leg, nevertheless managed to clear.

When Healy punched away a Kavanagh free, Joe Doyle got a head to it but it rebounded off the defence, and the Bray striker was just over from a free on the hour mark.

Almost midway through the half, Maher had to fall on the ball to stop when Whelan fed Keane for what should have been a tap in.

But when Whelan was stopped illegally twice a minute later, the free kick would prove decisive: from 25m out, just missing the wall on the right and into the net on Maher's near side with the keeper unable to do more than watch.

Less than two minutes later, the goalscorer was carded for a clash with Maher - Ireland Under-21 training could be interesting next time they meet, though they seemed friendly enough thereafter.

But the game was now for Bray to chase, andit was some minutes before they got going, a dubious offside flag preventing a potential score by Craven, and inside the final quarter hour Barnett headed high when Healy punched away a Mark Byrne corner.

Graydon having been upended near the UCD area without sanction, the ball was held until it found Byrne, but his shot was sliced right. Then Whelan, trying to burst through, lost possession and seemed to go to ground inside the Bray area without much reason, the free out awarded, but despite Bray protests, no punishment.

O'Farrell racing through to the edge of the area brought off a powerful shot that had Healy beaten, but flew just left of the post. On a counter-attack, Whelan was duelling with Andrew Quinn again but Maher, a good 30m off his line, went between and cleared.

But there was nothing he could do when Paul Doyle, receiving the from Whelan, shot well under Barry and into the far corner of the Bray goal.

It wasn't finished just yet, though, and Maher pulled off a beautiful tip over do deny Whelan a second, the two exchanging compliments in the goalmouth afterwards.

Time added saw unnecessary friction between the teams, culminating after Whelan and Kerrigan attempted to play keep ball in the Bray left corner and Kerrigan tried the same approach against Barnett when Graydon clattered into the UCD midfielder, the two squaring up before Oliver Moran brandished yellow twice. It didn't stop Whelan trying the same tactic a minute later, but to no effect.

Mícheál Ó hUanacháin

Bray Wanderers: 1 Brian Maher; 8 Mark Byrne, 4 Andrew Quinn, 5 Aaron Barry (c) , 3 Dylan Barnett; 14 Richie O'Farrell, 17 Luka Lovic; 7 Ryan Graydon , 11 Brandon Kavanagh, 16 Darren Craven; 9 Joe Doyle
Subs: 15 Daniel Jones, 18 Seán Callan, 19 Darragh Lynch, 20 Ryan Bowden, 22 Steven Kinsella (for Lovic 80), 23 Sam Hayden, 25 Kian Clarke (gk), 28 Sam Verdon (for Craven 75), 30 Jack Ross (gk)
UCD: 1 Lorcan Healy; 2 Michael Gallagher, 24 Harvey O'Brien, 22 Sam Todd , 3 Evan Osam; 6 Jack Keaney (c); 27 Sean Brennan, 17 Dara Keane, 21 Paul Doyle ; 7 Liam Kerrigan ; 10 Colm Whelan
Subs: 5 Luke Boore, 8 Mark Dignam (for Keane 91+), 11 Ciaran Behan, 12 Adam Lennon, 14 Eoin Farrell, 15 Adam Verdon (for Doyle 91+), 16 Carl Williams (gk), 19 Lennon Gill, 30 Evan Caffrey
Referee: Oliver Moran

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