With their aspirations of playing in the top flight next season but a point away from being realised, UCD got a flavour of what they can expect in the Premier Division next season.
On the evidence of this, it appears it would be very much to their taste.
First half goals from Conor Davis and Timmy Molloy put Collie O’Neill’s side through to their first FAI Cup semi-final in 11 years at the expense of their disjointed Premier Division opponents.
Unbeaten in nine games in all competitions going into the game, the table-leaders in the First Division didn’t lack confidence as they passed the ball well from the start.
And though Waterford, with four changes from the side that capitulated 3-0 at St Pat’s last week, began reasonably well, they found themselves a goal down on 20 minutes from the first incisive attack of the game.
Greg Sloggett was the Students’ architect, all too easily skipping past a pedestrian Bastein Hery to arc over a low cross from the right.
In-form Davis lost Waterford defender Kenny Browne to get to the ball first and toe-poke it past Niall Corbet for his fifth goal in four games.
With Waterford clearly rattled, UCD captain Gary O’Neill surged forward to see his drive deflected for their first corner of the game.
And from that, the College doubled their lead on 26 minutes.
Jay McClelland’s delivery was only half cleared to the far edge of the area. Molloy picked up the loose ball, took a touch and rifled a right-footed drive to the far corner of the net for a stunning goal.
Waterford boss Alan Reynolds made a change soon afterwards, withdrawing Ismahil Akinade to bring on fellow striker Courtney Duffus in a tactical reshuffle.
And though Gavan Holohan tenaciously made room to shoot narrowly over the top on 41 minutes, Waterford continued to struggle to trouble Conor Kearns in the UCD goal.
It got a little bit better into the second half for the visitors with UCD first to pose a threat 12 minutes in when a drive from Molloy needed tipping over the top by Corbet.
A rash challenge by O’Neill on Rory Feely, in conceding a 78th minute penalty, allowed Waterford into the game as Stanley Aborah confidently sent Kearns the wrong way from the spot.
But that was to be Waterford’s only shot on target in the entire game as UCD comfortably held out to deservedly go through.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Daniel Tobin, Josh Collins, Liam Scales, Evan Osam; Neil Farrugia (Daire O’Connor 84), Gary O’Neill, Timmy Molloy (Paul Doyle 81), Jay McClelland; Greg Sloggett; Conor Davis (Yoyo Mahdy 88).
Waterford: Niall Corbet; Dylan Barnett, Kenny Browne, Dave Webster, Garry Comerford; Dessie Hutchinson (Stanley Aborah half-time), Paul Keegan (Rory Feely 59), Bastien Hery, Gavan Holohan; Ismahil Akinade 9Courtney Duffus 37), Dean O’Halloran.
Referee: John McLoughlin (Roscommon).
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