UCD took a huge step to preserving their Premier Division status as they defeated fellow strugglers Dundalk at Oriel Park on Friday night. Goals from David McMillan gave the Students a crucial victory on the road and put them seven points ahead of the Lilywhites with just six games remaining.
It was UCD who started the brighter and were almost in on goal in the opening minutes when Robbie Benson latched onto a clearance from ‘keeper Mark McGinley but Dundalk captain Chris Shields did well to clear. Daniel Ledwith had his first effort of the game in the 10th minute when he cut inside of Dundalk’s Paul Whelan but his curling effort went just over the bar.
Dundalk gradually got into the match and Michael Rafter shot over from 12 yards following Mark Griffin’s cross. UCD then had a strong penalty claim turned down when David McMillan seemed to be upended by Derek Foran but referee Damian Hancock said no. The home side then had their best chance of the match when Griffin brilliantly played Rafter through on goal but his shot was straight at McGinley.
Ledwith then tested the crossbar when his wonderful 35 yard free-kick came back off it before we did get our opening goal just after the half hour mark. Dundalk failed to clear a Ledwith cross following a cleared corner. His ball was superb into the danger area and it found David McMillan who rifled to the net from 6 yards past Dundalk netminder Peter Cherrie.
Cherrie, minutes later, then saved Dundalk from going 2 down when he denied Benson a certain goal when he got down well to his right. Dundalk survived the onslaught and went in at the break, deservedly 1 goal down.
The start to the second half was quiet before 10 minutes in Dundalk created a brilliant chance. A great ball from John Mountney found Griffin but his brilliant volley went just over the bar from the edge of the box. The home side then did equalise moments later. Some great passing from Dundalk saw Mountney find Rafter 25 yards whose shot looked to be going harmlessly to safety was deflected into the net by James Kavanagh.
Dundalk then began to press and Griffin almost scored when he brilliantly chested down a Mountney pass but shot just wide from inside the box. The game then went quiet for a period but with ten minutes to go, UCD were awarded a penalty. Ledwith was brought down just inside the area by Paul Whelan. Up stepped McMillan and he duly scored his second of the game to put the Students in front late on. Dundalk almost responded perfectly when Griffin’s wonderful free-kick was well saved by UCD ‘keeper McGinley.
That was as good as it got for Dundalk as UCD saw out the match with ease and further alleviated their relegation playoff fears, putting clear daylight between them and the Lilywites.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Paul Whelan, Derek Foran, Chris Shields, Eoghan Osborne; Lorcan Shannon, Stephen Maher, John Mountney, Mark O’Brien (Chris Reilly 65); Michael Rafter (Barry Conlon 74), Mark Griffin.
Subs not used: Philip McCabe, Liam Burns, Bob McKenna, Stephen McDonnell, Nathan Murphy.
Booked: M O’Brien (7), Osborne (76).
UCD: Mark McGinley; Dean Clarke (Gary Burke 67), Hugh Douglas, Mick Leahy, Ciaran Nangle; James Kavanagh, Barry McCabe, Paul O’Conor, Daniel Ledwith; Robbie Benson, David McMillan (Chris Lyons 90+1).
Subs not used: Gerard Barron (GK), Tomas Boyle, Samir Belhout, Chris Lyons, Tyrone McNeil, Ayhaw Benhohamed.
Referee: Damian Hancock.
Attendance: 800 (estimate)
Extratime.ie man of the match: Daniel Ledwith (UCD).