Andrew Dempsey reports from the UCD Bowl
UCD have reached the second round of the FAI Cup for the first time since 2015 following a comfortable win over Limerick side Pike Rovers at a sunkissed UCD Bowl.
The all-important goal came from College midfielder Timmy Molloy as he pounced on a bouncing ball in the Pike Rovers six-yard box, before Conor Davis sealed the deal late on.
UCD began the game brighter and dominated the early stages of the game as their talismanic figurehead of Gary O'Neill looked to get them moving up the pitch with some superb passing.
Despite having all of the ball early on, UCD almost fell behind in the eight minute as Eoin Hanrahan of Pike Rovers saw his header creep just wide of Conor Kearns' goal.
That scare provoked a reaction from the Students and they went close soon after as the returning Maxi Kouogun went close from a Jason McClelland delivery.
UCD grabbed their well-earned opener just past the midway point in the first half courtesy of the feet of Timmy Molloy.
Having slalomed his way through the Pike rear-guard, Davis engineered a fantastic goalscoring opportunitym which Gary Neville saved, but Molloy was on hand to poke home.
Content to hold onto what they had, Pike showed very little ambition to get back into the game immediately following the concession as UCD were in firm control of the game.
College's next big chance arrived seven minutes before half time when the impressive Neil Farrugia burst through to fire over the bar, much to Neville's relief in the Rovers goal.
Former Limerick midfielder Darragh Rainsford did miss a fantastic opportunity for Pike four minutes from the break after burning UCD full back Evan Osam down the left flank.
UCD once again seized control after the break as their superb range of passing and attacking movement really tested a leggy Rovers midfield four.
Sloggett went close three minutes into the second period as he arrowed a shot straight down the throat of Neville in the Pike goal.
Reacting well, Mike Shiels' side went even closer moments afterwards as a great effort by Stephen McGann was well dealt with by the quiet Conor Kearns in the Students goal.
A side not to be overawed, as we have seen thus far in the 2018 season, UCD reacted well and they really should have put the result beyond all doubt but Conor Davis missed a gilt-edged chance.
Farrugia headed the initial ball into the path of the impressive Jason McClelland, who found the newly signed Reading academy star Davis with a knock down, but the youngster blasted over the bar.
UCD increased the intensity further as Pike tired and they could have easily sealed the deal in the 68th minute as Neville somehow tipped over a McClelland volley from just yards out.
Sloggett went close moments afterwards as almost the ever-improving midfield star got on the end of majestic link-up play from Neil Farrugia and Yoyo Mahdy on the right but Pike survived once again by the skin of their teeth.
UCD were not to be denied as Conor Davis finally put the result beyond all doubt four minutes from time as his way past the Pike Rovers defence to lift the ball past an onrushing Neville.
It was a thoroughly professional performance from College, who were in full control from start to finish as an organised Pike Rovers were no match for their youth and varied skillset.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Daniel Tobin, Evan Osam, Maxi Kouogun, Josh Collins; Greg Sloggett (Paul Doyle, 71), Neil Farrugia (Sean McDonald, 90), Gary O’Neill, Timmy Molloy (Yoyo Mahdy, 80), Jason McClelland; Conor Davis.
Subs not used: Gavin Sheridan, Liam Scales, Paul Doyle, Sean McDonald, Yoyo Mahdy.
Booked: Neil Farrugia (76).
Pike Rovers: Gary Neville; Wayne O’Donovan (Stephen Keeley, 55), Paddy O’Malley (Jonathan Hanafin, 61), Edward O’Donovan, Adam Lipper, Eoin Hanrahan, Darragh Rainsford, Shane Walsh, Stephen McGann, Colin Daly, Conor Kavanagh.
Subs not used: Patrick Mullins, Brian O’Callaghan, James Tierney.
Booked: Paddy O’Malley (40), Stephen McGann (43).
Referee: Alan Patchell.
Attendance: 150 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Conor Davis (UCD).