UCD continued their fine form with a 2-1 win over title challengers St. Patricks Athletic at Belfield on Monday evening.
A late goal from Darren Meenan means Pete Mahon’s side’s hopes of securing the Premier Division title are all but diminished.
Seven days ago, Martin Russell’s young charges ended Bohemian’s title aspirations and now they have ended the Inchicore side’s. In a game which saw St. Pats starting the game with no more than eight former Students, the Super Saints had large spells of possession but couldn’t capitalise. Long range efforts were the really only threat on either goal in the opening exchanges with Paul O’Conor and Anto Murphy both having attempts go wide of the uprights.
Both sides passed the ball nicely in midfield but it was the visitors who looked the more threatening and Paul Crowley and Derek Doyle both saw their shots saved by Mark McGinley with Doyle’s curling effort brilliantly saved by the UCD ‘keeper.
Pats continued to pile on the pressure but once again McGinley stood in their way but it was UCD who took the lead. Darren Meenan forced Gary Rodgers into action from 20 yards and from the resulting corner, the home side worked it short before crossing for Dave O’Connor to head home on 38 minutes. It is the defenders second goal in two games after he scored in the win over Dundalk on Friday.
Pete Mahon’s half time pep talk must have been fierce as his men came out all guns blazing. Just two minutes into the second period, Anto Murphy’s shot come cross found Dave McMillan who had the simple task of slotting home from a few yards. Pats then went all out for a vital three points in their quest for a first League title since 1998 as Ian Bermingham fired over from a cross after good link up play down the right and Paul Crowley’s header was hit straight at McGinley.
UCD began to find their feet again and a strong penalty shout was turned down but as the game entered its final minutes, UCD struck the killer blow.
Darren Meenan cut in from the left and curled a right footed effort into the far corner, leaving Rodgers with no chance. It was a sucker punch for the Saints but emphasised how much Martin Russell’s side have progressed in recent weeks.
It was UCD’s fifth straight game at the Bowl without defeat and they are finishing the season in fantastic fashion which will hold them in good stead for next season. As for Pats, their hopes of silverware this season are now over. The defeat leaves them one point behind 3rd placed Derry but the Inchicore club have played two more then the Candystripes and Rovers.
UCD AFC: Mark McGinley, Hugh Douglas, Mick Leahy (c), David O’Connor, Daniel Ledwith, Dean Marshall (Dean Clarke, 78’), Paul Corry, Paul O’Conor, Darren Meenan, Samir Belhout (Robbie Benson, 59’), Graham Rusk
Subs not used: Ger Barron, Craig Mooney, Mark Langrty, Danny Fallon, Stephen Doyle
Booked: Danny Ledwith (69’)
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Gary Rodgers, Brian Shortall (Derek Pender, 73’) , Evan McMillan, Conor Kenna, Ian Bermingham, Sean O’Connor, Anto Murphy, Dave McMillan (John O’Connor, 88’), Derek Doyle, Paul Crowley, Ian Daly (Stephen Bradley, 78’)
Subs not used: Sean Stewart, Matt Holland, Jake Carroll, Chris Bennion
Booked: Brian Shortall (34’)