coughlan leads irish to victory

19 April 2017

An inspired Garbhan Coughlan performance helped the Irish Colleges and Universities to a comprehensive 6-1 victory over their Scottish counterparts in a friendly international in the superb Oriam facility in Edinburgh.

The Limerick forward captained the side and was a constant thorn in the side of the Scots and a first half double and an assist for UCD's Daire O'Connor meant that the Irish went into half time with a three goal advantage. Second half goals from Jason McClelland, Conor Barry and Gareth McDonagh put the icing on the cake for Greg Yelverton's side.

The first goal arrived after only eight minutes when a ball from the left found its way to Coughlan who fired past Callum Davison. Large parts of the first half were spent in the Scottish half with the Irish dictating the possession and tempo.

The pressure paid off again on 34 minutes when Shane Daly-Butz fed the ball out to the overlapping Eoghan Dempsey whose first time cross found Coughlan eight yards out for an easy tap-in. The game looked over as a contest when Coughlan picked the ball up on the right flank and picked out Daire O'Connor who filled the space left in behind by Coughlan to add his name to the scoreline.

Any hope of a Scottish revival in the second half were extinguished almost immediately when O'Connor picked out his club mate McClelland on the edge of the box whose shot couldn't be contained by Davison. The Scots pulled a goal back shortly after this when a mistake in the Irish defence allowed Hne Wilson to run through and slot past Joe Coll.

With a comfortable position, Yelverton rotated his side and two of his substitutes scored in the space of a couple of minutes midway through the second half with NUI Galway's Conor Barry capitalising on hesitancy from a corner to coolly finish past substitute keeper Craig Saunders. Barry then turned provider as his diagonal ball picked out IT Carlow's Gareth McDonagh who netted the final goal of the game.

Speaking after the game, Yelverton was thrilled that the team took their practices in training into the game. "It's the way we played that was the more pleasing, the style we've worked on the past few days and for the lads to get six goals was just rewards," said the Corkman.

Yelverton will now look forward to upcoming tests against Gerry Davis' Amateur side before a trip to France at the start of June as he starts to narrow down his squad for the World University Games. "I suppose I still don't have the squad picked in my head yet, so the game against the Amateurs will give me the opportunity for players that might come into the squad. With the France game, I hope we'll have a much more settled squad so I'll have a better idea of lads who will be on the plane to Taipei".

Man of the Match Coughlan was back in the squad since the 2015 World University Games and the first time under Yelverton. He was delighted with how his reintroduction to the group went. "It's always great to get an Irish jersey on, and I'm obviously delighted to be out there playing," said Coughlan. When asked about the upcoming Games, the striker has set his sights on a place in the squad "Definitely, 2015 in South Korea was unbelievable so to hopefully have another chance of going again is something I really want to do."

Irish Colleges and Universities: Joe Coll (Cathal O'Hanlon 80) Eoghan Dempsey (Mark Slater h-t), Sean O'Mahony (Gavin Kearney 74), Sean McLoughlin, Ben McAuliffe, John McKeown (Conor Barry h-t), Shane Dunne; Shane Daly Butz (Joe Doyle 61), Daire O'Connor, Jason McClelland (Jason Lyons 61) Garbhan Coughlan (Gareth McDonagh 61).

Scottish Universities: Callum Davison (Craig Saunders 65), Lewis Grant, David Aubrey, David Smith, Andrew Meaney (Alex Dodgson 46), Lewis Hunter, Paul Sludden, Kyle Faulds, Robert Collins (Craig McMillan 51), Rory McEwan, Hne Wilson.

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