TUD Tallaght spot on as they clinch CUFL Division One title

By Stephen Leonard

TUD Tallaght clinched the Colleges and Universities Football Division One crown and a return to the Premier ranks following a thrilling 5-3 penalty shootout victory over NUI Galway in Tuesday’s decider in Athlone Town Stadium.

Both sides were deadlocked at 1-1 by the close of regulation time, with extra time failing to determine a winner.

TUD Tallaght win CUFL Divison One title

TUD Tallaght players and management celebrate winning the CUFL Division One title and promotion back to the Premier ranks following their victory over NUI Galway on Tuesday

Yet it was the Tallaght side who held their nerve in the resulting shootout, converting all five of their spotkicks to secure the coveted prize.

Indeed Pat Scully’s side had found themselves twice on the brink of this title over the past three years, but lost to Blanchardstown in last season’s final after having been undone by none other than NUI Galway in the 2017 showpiece.

And while they did draw first blood on Tuesday after Ola Lawal latched on to Brian Sofola’s delivery and fired home with just six minutes gone, the roof did threaten to cave in on their title hopes in the closing stages.

Had it not been for the superb performance of Man of the Match, goalkeeper Favour Memuduaghan, Galway would have been back on level terms a lot sooner as he pulled off top drawer saves from the likes of Calym Crowe, Sheagh O’Connor and Colin Kelly.

Yet NUI appeared poised to pinch the title after Ruairi Casserly rifled home an equaliser and Tallaght lost Yoma Ogaga to a straight red card.

Still Tallaght maintained their composure and even looked the more threatening in extra time with Martins Olakanye and Jordan Adeyemo going very close.

It was, however, left to a shootout to determine a winner and it was the Tallaght players who proved that bit more steely as Lawal, Sean Quinn, Eoin McPhillips, Daniel Ridge and Adeyemo all converted from the spot.

Extremely proud of his side, TUD Tallaght manager Pat Scully said “the character these players showed in the final and throughout the season has been fantastic.

“When things go against them, they just find a way to dig themselves out.

“To concede a goal and go a player down in the last five minutes is a real test of your mental strength and the boys responded magnificently. I thought in extra time we could have won it, we had a couple of great chances.

“But it went to penalties and people say that’s a lottery, but I don’t agree. It’s about quality and mentality and all five of the penalties our lads took were magnificent” he told The Echo.

Looking ahead to a return to the Premier ranks next season, Scully said “It’s going to be tough.

“You’re up against the best teams in the college system and we’ll need to improve, but this team has certainly gotten better over the last four or five years.”

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