League Report: Shamrock Rovers 4 - 0 UCD
Andrew Dempsey reports from Tallaght Stadium
Shamrock Rovers stretched their lead at the top of the Premier Division table to six points thanks to a thumping 4-0 win over UCD at Tallaght Stadium.
Harvey O’Brien’s own-goal opened the scoring for the Hoops, while Jack Byrne doubled their lead soon afterwards.
And just two minutes before the break they made it 3-0 thanks to Graham Burke’s scuffed shot on goal that deceived UCD keeper Kian Moore.
Substitute Kieran Cruise then netted in the 56th minute to put the gloss on the win with his first senior goal for the club.
But for UCD, the loss was their eighth on the spin as they head into the mid-season break 15 points adrift at the bottom of the table.
Shamrock Rovers made five changes from their most recent win over Sligo Rovers, with Neil Farrugia returning to the fold alongside Ireland international Graham Burke.
Meanwhile, struggling UCD however came into the game without Ciaran Behan, with Ireland under-17 international Daniel Babb his place.
And it was the Hoops who started the game the better of the two - with their early pressure telling after they took the lead inside 15 minutes.
Farrugia’s cross across the penalty area was met by a flick by Aaron Greene – and Students defender Harvey O’Brien was the unfortunate party as he turned into his own net.
UCD’s threat was limited to set-pieces however, and their only real opening of the first half came from a corner. Although, their skipper Jack Keaney headed over the bar.
But that was a rarity and Rovers doubled their lead soon after through Byrne.
The lively attacking midfielder was on hand to bundle into the back of the net after Graham Burke’s cross was not dealt with sufficiently by Keaney.
However, it was not all positive for Rovers during the first-half, with Greene forced off after 35 minutes with a suspected ankle injury.
But the hosts did not let that knock them off their stride as Burke found the net to make it 3-0 in the 43rd minute.
Farrugia once again surged past Evan Osam before directing his cross to Burke, with his effort deflecting off the boot of O’Brien.
The Hoops rang the changes at the half-time break with academy trio Darragh Nugent, Kieran Cruise and Conan Noonan all coming on for Byrne, Markus Poom and Roberto Lopes.
And it was Cruise who struck to score the Hoops’ fourth of the night.
The wing-back snuck in after Burke’s free-kick was blocked down – and he made no mistake to beat Kian Moore in the Students net.
Noonan then went mightily close for his first senior goal for the Hoops soon after, but Moore charged down the attacker who looked set to score just past the hour mark.
And that was how the game finished despite the best efforts of the hosts to score a fifth – as Rovers moved six points clear at the top of the pile.
Their quest for a fourth league title in a row is looking in safe hands.
Shamrock Rovers: Leon Pohls; Lee Grace, Sean Hoare, Pico (Conan Noonan 46); Neil Farrugia, Sean Kavanagh, Gary O'Neill, Markus Poom (Darragh Nugent 46); Graham Burke (Liam Burt 61), Jack Byrne (Kieran Cruise 46), Aaron Greene (Rory Gaffney 35).
Subs not used: Toms Leitis, Sean Gannon, Dylan Watts, Ronan Finn.
UCD: Kian Moore; Daniel Babb, Michael Gallagher, Harvey O'Brien (Ryan Bowden 78), Evan Osam, Adam Wells; Brendan Barr (Kyle Donoghue 87), Jack Keaney; Jake Doyle, Alex Nolan, Daniel Norris (Danu Kinsella Bishop 59).
Subs not used: Lorcan Healy, Dara Keane.
Referee: David Dunne.
extratime.com Player of the Match: Neil Farrugia (Shamrock Rovers).
FT | SSE Airtricity Men's Premier Division— League of Ireland (@LeagueofIreland) June 9, 2023
So there you have it!
Shamrock Rovers stroll to victory while Dundalk and Drogheda United secure big wins with late winners!
Meanwhile, those playing at the Brandywell and Tolka Park are forced to settle for a point each #LOIpic.twitter.com/XZJZUKExf0