SHAMROCK ROVERS 3
JACK BYRNE grabbed a brace of goals as the Hoops dug deep to hold on to their seven-point cushion at the summit of the table.
Fresh from his call-up to the Ireland squad, Byrne exerted a major influence for the hosts. He was marginally off-target with an early free-kick, before subsequently breaking the deadlock on 19 minutes.
Following excellent build-up play by former Students midfielder Ronan Finn, Byrne was picked out in a central position and finished well.
Rovers dominated possession for the majority of the opening period, but were hit with an unexpected sucker punch in the 37th minute. Via Neil Farrugia’s pull-back on the left-wing, Yousef Mahdy fired past the helpless Alan Mannus.
Rovers looked to be enduring an evening of frustration but just as they had done against Finn Harps last week, they found a large surge as Byrne turned home Finn’s pass with seven minutes left.
In a final throw of the dice, UCD sent goalkeeper Conor Kearns forward for a corner deep into stoppage-time. However, after Rovers cleared, Aaron McEneff slotted into an empty net.
SHAMROCK ROVERS – Mannus; Bone (Clarke 71), Lopes, Grace, Kavanagh; McEneff, Bolger; Byrne, Finn, Watts (Coustrain 59); Greene (Vojic 78).
UCD – Kearns; Tobin, Collins, Scales, Dignam; McClelland, Molloy, O’Neill, O’Farrell, Farrugia; Mahdy (McDonald 83).
REF – J McLoughlin (Roscommon).