Date: 8 p.m. April 2, 2010
Venue: Tallaght Stadium
Though neither side could be faulted for their effort, neither could really find the cutting edge that was needed to secure the three points, with UCD midfielder Greg Bolger proving to be the stand-out performer on the night.
In the build-up to this game, Rovers boss Michael O'Neill said that he expected UCD to come out and play with no fear, and this was exactly what they did as they really put it up to the home side for the majority of the opening half.
However, the first real chance of the game came the way of Rovers with just five minutes gone, when Billy Dennehy showed good pace on the left wing before unleashing an enterprising cross into the box. The ball fell to new signing Thomas Stewart in space, but his right-footed effort dragged wide and away from danger.
This was a warning side for The Students though, as Rovers looked like they were capable of causing damage to their opponents if given time and space on the ball. This went out of the game after this, though, and Martin Russell's side visibly grew in confidence as the minutes went by.
Ciaran Kilduff was operating on his own up front, but never looked isolated at any period, as he had ample support on the wings from David McMillan and Graham Rusk. This made things easier for him, and a good ball forward from McMillan on 13 minutes was latched onto by Kilduff who struck well from just inside the box, but his shot was turned behind by Rovers' shotstopper Alan Mannus.
This could so easily have given UCD the lead, and it should have served as something of a wake-up call for The Hoops. This wasn't the case however; as a lot of Rovers' play was uncharacteristically sloppy, and the evidence from this match would suggest that they have a bit to go before they reach their form of last season.
UCD weren't creating too many chances themselves, and it was no surprise that the sides went in scoreless at the break, with the only other chance falling to Stewart who had a tame shot well-saved by Billy Brennan.
After the break, Rovers started to play with far more urgency, and looked intent on putting UCD on the back foot as much as possible. Gradually, they started to get more possession in the final-third, and a long ball over the top almost put Stewart through six minutes into the second period, but the ball just got away from him. Two minutes later, UCD cleared the ball off the line from a Sives header, but the referee had already blown for a free-out for a push by the big defender.
As the game entered the final quarter Rovers did begin to press a bit more and efforts from Stephen Rice and James Chambers in the 75th and 79th minutes respectively went close to finally breaking the deadlock.
The most clear-cut chance of the match came at the other end though, with a fine ball in from the outstanding Bolger put David McMillan clean through, but Mannus pulled off a terrific save to deny UCD a famous win.
While it could be argued that Mannus managed to salvage a point for his side with the save, it will be viewed as two points dropped. Rovers will need to pick up points quickly if they are going to keep their title challenge alive for this season. UCD, on the other hand, will be delighted with the start they have made to this season, and will hope that they can continue performing in a similar vein for the rest of the season.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Enda Stevens (Danny Murphy '59), Craig Sives, Dan Murray, James Chambers; Stephen Rice, Robert Bayly, Billy Dennehy, Sean O'Connor (Ollie Cahill '59); Thomas Stewart, Graham Barrett (Don Cowan '77).
Subs not used: Aidan Price, Robert Duggan.
UCD: Billy Brennan; Brian Shortall (Sean Harding '92), Andy Boyle, Evan McMillan, Ciaran Nangle; Peter McMahon, Greg Bolger, Robbie Creevy (Paul Corry '68), David McMillan (Keith Ward '85); Ciaran Kilduff, Graham Rusk.
Subs not used: Danny Fallon, Gerard Barron.
Referee: Richie Winter.
Extratime Man of the Match: Greg Bolger (UCD).