League Report: Dundalk FC 4 - 1 UCD
It was an evening to remember for Pat Hoban as his hat trick took him level with Joey Donnelly as Dundalk's record goalscorer in a 4-1 win over UCD. Goals from Jake Doyle and Dan Kelly were mere footnotes in the script which saw Hoban cast as the central protagonist.
Friday night defeats in Tallaght Stadium (Dundalk) and the UCD Bowl meant both sides were coming into the game on the back of poor recent results - Dundalk winless in four league games and their visitors UCD having picked up a single point from their past seven.
It was the Belfield boys who struck first with teenager Jake Doyle pinching a loose ball destined for Nathan Shepperd before nipping past the static Welshman to fire UCD into a seventh minute lead.
They looked relatively comfortable for the most part as Dundalk sought to probe the edges of a solid UCD rearguard with plenty of traffic directed towards Ryan O'Kane.
However, their breakthrough came from a more central location as on loan Finnish midfielder Johannes Yli-Kokko was fouled in the penalty area moments after his flashing effort was repelled by a strong hand from Kian Moore.
The former Bohs stopper was powerless to stop Patrick Hoban's subsequent spotkick as Dundalk levelled up the scores. Buoyed by this goal, the hosts began to turn the screw and Dan Kelly had a couple of sighters fly narrowly wide before Moore stretched to his right to fingertip an Elliott shot around his post.
As the crowd shuffled for halftime refreshments at a sunny Oriel Park, Dundalk number 9 Hoban nodded a ball across the UCD box and Kelly made the most of a static Student defence to slam the ball beyond an exposed Moore and give the home side the lead.
The second half brought no letup as Galwegian Hoban netted his second of the night within ten minutes of the restart- a thumping header from close range being a just reward for Archie Davies' inviting cross.
His third of the night came from a pass off the other Dundalk full back- this time Darragh Leahy's centre was thumped to the net as Oriel Park celebrated with their iconic centre forward, united in knowing that the strike equalled the record of the legendary Joey Donnelly set during the 1930s and 40s.
Moore continued to repel the rampant Dundalk attack in the remaining twenty minutes of the second half - his acrobatic save from a John Martin thumping drive the pick of the bunch. However, try as they may, Dundalk couldn't extend their lead and, finishing with 76% possession and 25 shots taken, Stephen O'Donnell's men ended the night in fine fettle ahead of a trip to Turner's Cross on Friday night.
For UCD, it's a trip to table topping Shamrock Rovers on Friday night as they look to try and arrest their losing streak if they have any chance of catching Cork City in the relegation play off places.
Dundalk:Nathan Shepperd; Louie Annesley, Andy Boyle, Archie Davies (Hayden Muller 78), Darragh Leahy; Ryan O'Kane, Greg Sloggett (John Martin 72), Johannes Yli-Kokko (Connor Malley 80); Cameron Elliott, Patrick Hoban (Paul Doyle 72), Daniel Kelly (Keith Ward 71).
Subs not used: Peter Cherrie, Mark Byrne, Eoin Kenny, Rayhaan Tulloch.
Booked: Darragh Leahy (68), Andy Boyle (80).
Sent off: None.
UCD: Kian Moore; Michael Gallagher, Harvey O'Brien (Ryan Bowden 59), Evan Osam, Adam Wells; Brendan Barr, Ciaran Behan (Danu Kinsella Bishop 9), Jack Keaney, Daniel Norris (Kyle Donoghue 59); Jake Doyle, Alex Nolan (Daniel Babb 60).
Subs not used: Lorcan Healy, Dara Keane.
Sent off: None.
Referee: Damien MacGraith
extratime.com Player of the Match: Patrick Hoban