BALANCING ACT UCD’s Paul Doyle is pictured in action against Treaty United last weekend. Pic: John Corless
TREATY UNITED vs UCD on Friday night last, was a showcase of all that is good in football – not just in the SSE Airtricity League of Ireland – but the sport generally. Here, the 200 fans admitted (and those watching online) were served up a feast of skill and shrewdness, of honesty and endeavour. The ninety minutes were a credit to both teams and to the officials.
The match was played on the superb surface of the Markets Field in Mediterranean heat; the man beside me showed me his phone displaying 28 degrees, just before kick-off.
The match was competitive. Both sides were going for a win. In doing so however, they played the game as it should be played. There wasn’t a bad foul in the game and there was no diving or ‘simulation’, as it is called in the rulebook. In its place there was skill, commitment, excitement, goals and honesty. It was a privilege to witness.
Treaty were always going to win this one. They are physically bigger and stronger than the students; UCD, by their nature, will always have players with a maximum age of 24 or so – and will be lighter and faster than many teams.
But physicality alone hasn’t put the Limerick-side second in the table. They are a very skilful and fit side and have an honesty and camaraderie within the group, and a commitment that belies their totally amateur status.
They are the essence of the community spirit normally associated with country parishes and other codes. UCD, for their part, are a good honest team too, with some outstanding players, many of whom will enjoy long and successful careers in the game where their studies are completed.
Two of those are Mayo men.
Harvey O’Brien played for the first time in the wing back role, and midfielder, Paul Doyle, was as tenacious in midfield as ever.
Treaty captain Jack Lynch, scored twice. The first was a deft header which beat UCD keeper Lorcan Healy on his near side. To be fair to the ‘keeper he was facing a strong sun, as were the defenders who might have provided better cover in different conditions. The second came just after Colm Whelan had levelled for the students from the spot.
There was no solar protection for the second which turned out to be a winner.
“We conceded two sloppy goals and you can’t do that and expect to win,” Harvey O’Brien told The Mayo News. “We got a goal from the penalty spot and that should be enough if you stay solid at the back. And that’s what Treaty did when they went in front the second time. “They sat back, soaked up the pressure and saw the game out. I thought we responded well when we fell behind. We came at them and we got an equaliser.
“But then we conceded again straight away and you can’t be doing that. There were positives, but defensively we’ll have to be better. The aim is to stay in the play-off places comfortably, and not be putting ourselves under pressure towards the end of the season.
“I could have been better, my crossing wasn’t the best,” admitted the Claremorris native.
“It’s something I have to work on if this is where the manager wants me to play. I have been out for a few games now and it’s great to be back in and playing. Tonight was tough with the heat.”
Paul Doyle, who previously lined out for Fahy Rovers and Westport United, said UCD were just not good enough on the night.
“We gifted them goals and you can’t do that here. They are a big physical side and we knew coming here what we had to do and what not to do. And we did everything we wanted not to do. It happens, I suppose, and we have to move on. It’s a tight division and there’s plenty of games to play yet, to make up points. It’s just frustrating.
“Treaty are one of the teams around us in the table that we need to be picking up points here or certainly not losing. This was a six-pointer, and this makes it all the more disappointing.”