Shamrock Rovers let slip a two goal first half lead, conceding a stoppage time equalizer to UCD which resulted in a chorus of boos from the Tallaght faithful.
Having led 2-0 at half-time through goals from Billy Dennehy after five minutes and Daryl Kaanagh shortly before the interval, the league champions took their foot off the pedal in the second half.
Goals on the hour mark from Graham Rusk and Paul O’Connor in injury-time secured an unlikely point for the students.
Rovers were dominant in the first half with Darly Kavanagh particularly lively. They took the lead through a free kick from Dennehy after Gary Twigg was fouled. Twigg was captain for the night with Ken Oman out injured and the Scot watched Dennehy slam the ball home from the free kick low and hard into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
The league champions had further chances inside the opening ten minutes with Chris Turner forcing a good save from Mark McGinley.
Rovers and particularly poacher Twigg had a few other chances before doubling their lead on 39 minutes. Kavanagh had time and space to turn just outside the visitors’ area. He looked up and picked his spot before planting a right footed shot into the top corner of the net.
The visitors almost got back into the game just before half time with Corry and Lyons linking up well and the latter having been put through on Rovers’ goalkeeper Oscar Jansson; he lifted the ball over the custodian. The ball also cleared the crossbar however.
The students seemed to gather confidence from this and Martin Russell’s team talk certainly seemed to have done the trick. Two minutes into the second half, Corry had a shot which clipped the Rovers crossbar.
The game was opening up and Rovers had the ball in the net on 55 minutes but Twigg’s chipped effort was ruled out for offside.
Just before the hour, the visitors won a penalty after McCormack took down Ledwith. Rusk sent the goalkeeper the wrong way by rolling his effort low into the left hand corner.
Rovers manager Stephen Kenny then took Daryl Kavangh off in a surprising move because Kavanagh had been the champions best player and had offered a real threat going forward. Rovers didn’t sit back however with Twigg providing the main threat. Conor Powell played a long ball to the Scot who controlled well before playing the ball across the face of goal but McCabe couldn’t get on the end of it with the goal gaping. Minutes later, Killian Brennan (Kavanagh’s replacement) sent Twigg through on goal again but the ‘keeper spread himself well to thwart last season’s league leading scorer.
Craig Sives then hit the side netting with 15 minutes to go before McCabe blazed over when well placed inside the box.
The students hung on however and in injury-time were rewarded as Mark Langtry passed to O’Conor and his right foot drive at the edge of the six yard box found the back of the net to stun Rovers.
The final whistle was greeted by boos by the Shamrock Rovers fans, as they could hardly believe that they had seen their team concede another late equaliser as they had done a week earlier against Derry City.
Rovers have now fallen five points behind Sligo Rovers and into third place after Saint Patrick’s Athletic beat Derry. UCD meanwhile have gone from second bottom to third bottom. A confidence boosting draw for the students and definitely a point gained for them.
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Conor McCormack (Kerrea Gilbert 80), Craig Sives, Graham Gartland, Conor Powell; Gary McCabe, Chris Turner, Stephen Rice, Billy Dennehy; Gary Twigg, Daryl Kavanagh (Killian Brennan 60).
UCD: Mark McGinley; Hugh Douglas, Mick Leahy, David O’Connor, Daniel Ledwith; Graham Rusk, Paul O’Connor, Paul Corry, Robbie Benson (Samir Belhout, 46), Mark Langtry; Chris Lyons (Cillian Morrison 84).