Dundalk's Pat Hoban. (Pic: Sportsfile)
SSE Airtricity League
Dundalk FC 2-0 UCD
Dundalk FC were victorious for the second time this season in the SSE Airtricity League as they overcame bottom-of-the-table UCD in what was an accomplished performance.
Goals from Daniel Kelly and Patrick Hoban were enough for Stephen O’Donnell’s side to see off the challenge of The Students, who remain at the foot of the Premier Division.
O’Donnell was boosted with the return of Darragh Leahy, who was named in the starting line-up for the first time this season after fully recovering from an ankle injury.
Dundalk had the first effort of the night inside two minutes when a Hoban header from Steven Bradley’s ball went safely into the arms of UCD goalkeeper Lorcan Healy.
Both players combined again not long after that – only this time it was Bradley who headed off the crossbar after getting on the end of a good Hoban cross from the left.
Dundalk were dominating the opening half and their persistence paid off on 16 minutes when Mark Connolly’s pass was excellently dummied by Kelly before Hoban quickly played it back to the Dundalk winger, who rounded Healy and finished to make it 1-0.
UCD’s first real chance came four minutes later when some hesitant Dundalk defending afforded Colm Whelan a shot on goal, but Nathan Shepperd was equal to his effort.
Robbie Benson was pulling the strings for Dundalk and he did well to fend off the challenge of several UCD defenders before firing just wide right on the half-hour mark.
The Lilywhites almost doubled their lead when ex-UCD man Benson – unmarked in the box – headed off the inside of the post after getting on the end of a cross from Hoban.
Indeed, the second half was only two minutes old when Dundalk bagged their second as Hoban slotted home at the far post with his left foot following a good Lewis Macari cross.
UCD could have found themselves a route back into the contest on 56 minutes, but Shepperd did exceptionally well to batter away a free-kick attempt from Dylan Duffy.
At the other end as the game entered its closing stages, Kelly’s shot was kept out by Healy, who saved again moments later – this time with his feet – to deny Bradley.
The game petered out after those chances, however, but Dundalk weren’t complaining as they claimed a much-needed three points which keeps pressure on the top four teams.
Dundalk FC: Nathan Shepperd; Lewis Macari, Mark Connolly, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy; Greg Sloggett, Paul Doyle (Dan Williams 74); Steven Bradley (Keith Ward 84), Robbie Benson, Daniel Kelly (Joe Adams 74); Patrick Hoban (David McMillan 87)
Subs not used: Peter Cherrie (gk), Brian Gartland, Sam Bone, Mark Hanratty, Ryan O’Kane
UCD: Lorcan Healy; Alex Dunne, Eric Yoro, Sam Todd, Evan Osam (John Ryan 73); Sean Brennan (Donal Higgins 58), Jack Keaney (Adam Verdon 58); Liam Kerrigan (Adam Lennon 73), Evan Caffrey, Dylan Duffy; Colm Whelan (Alex Nolan 73)
Subs not used: Kian Moore (gk), Michael Gallagher, Luke Boore, Lennon Gill
Referee: Gavin Colfer (Wicklow)
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