League Report: UCD 3 - 2 Dundalk

Smiles all round for goalscorer Dylan Duffy and UCD supporters as they moved off the bottom of the table

Smiles all round for goalscorer Dylan Duffy and UCD supporters as they moved off the bottom of the table Credit: Martin Doherty (ETPhotos)

Patrick O’ Connor reports from the Belfield Bowl.

UCD came back from being a goal down twice in this match before grabbing a dramatic winner in the 87th minute in a thrilling encounter at the Belfield Bowl on Friday night.

The three points the Students’ picked up allows them to leapfrog Finn Harps into ninth place in the league table, at least for 48 hours until the Donegal side face Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght on Sunday evening.

Dundalk were the beneficiaries of three points awarded to them by the FAI on Wednesday (following Sligo Rovers’ fielding on an ineligible player against Dundalk in a game on August 29th) but they will certainly feel they left another three points behind them in this game where they had 67 % of the possession against 33% for UCD

Dundalk were on the front foot throughout the first 45 minutes and had UCD pinned back into their own half for the majority of that time.

They funnelled a lot of their attacks down the right wing to Scottish loanee Stephen Bradley and he was the instigator of many of their attacks. The best of those early chances came in the 5th minute when Bradley’s exquisite pass put David McMillan through but the ex UCD man hit the side netting.

The opening goal for the Lily Whites came in the 39th minute and again Bradley was the creator in chief. He went on a marauding run across the pitch before being upended on the edge of the box by Michael Gallagher.

Keith Ward took the free kick and planted the ball in the top left- hand corner of the net giving keeper Kian Moore no chance with the precision of the shot.

Gallagher picked up an injury in the process and had to leave the field to be replaced by Jack Keaney.

Dundalk went in only 1-0 ahead at the break despite having most of the possession and they were to be hauled back for the first time early in the second half.

UCD’s centre forward Thomas Lonergan picked up a loose pass in midfield and ran straight at the heart of the Dundalk defence before deftly beating Nathan Sheppard at his near post for a great goal.

Dundalk head coach Stephen O Donnell responded to that setback immediately by making a treble substitution in the 55th minute but it was the Ward / Bradley combination again who put them back ahead in the 57th minute. 

Left winger Ryan O ‘Kane made a great run down the left wing before feeding Ward inside the box, and the diminutive ex Bohemians player spotted Bradley in a better position and the 20 -year -old fired home his sixth goal of the season to make it 2-1.

Dundalk retained that lead for about 20 minutes only to be reined in a second time in the 79th minute.

This time it was Sean Brennan who cut through the middle of the Dundalk defence before playing it wide to Dylan Duffy and his powerful strike beat Sheppard for another great equaliser.

Duffy turned provider in the 87th minute when he got past the Dundalk defence out on the right wing and his low cross was met by the inrushing Lonergan who fired home to the delight of the home supporters.

The result sees Dundalk drop back to third place and although only three points behind leaders Shamrock Rovers they do have 30 games played to 27 for Rovers.

The Students are now on 19 points with Harps on 18 point but they too have an extra game played so all eyes will now be on that game in Tallaght on Sunday evening, the next instalment in an intriguing relegation battle between these two sides.

UCD: Kian Moore; Sam Todd, Michael Gallagher (Jack Keaney 43), Alex Dunne, Dylan Duffy, Dara Keane, Evan Caffrey, Donal Higgins (Alex Nolan 60), Daniel Norris (Mark Dignam 69), Sean Brennan, Thomas Lonergan.

Subs not used: Lorcan Healy (GK), Matthew Scott, Jamie Duggan, Aaron Corish, Harry O’ Connor, Bradley Rogers.

Booked: Michael Gallagher (30), Dylan Duffy (90)

Dundalk: Nathan Shepperd; Lewis Macari (John Mountney 55), Sam Bone, Andy Boyle (c), Darragh Leahy (Joe Adams 84), Steven Bradley, Ryan O'Kane (Runar Hauge 68), Alfie Lewis (Paul Doyle 55), Greg Sloggett, Keith Ward 62, David McMillan (John Martin 55).

Subs not used: Peter Cherie (GK), Mark Byrne (GK), Brian Gartland, Robbie Benson.

Booked: Paul Doyle (65), Joe Adams (93).

Referee: Adriano Reale 

extratime.com Player of the Match: Greg Sloggett (Dundalk)