Dundalk returned to second in the Premier Division table with a hard-earned win over UCD at Belfield.
Despite falling behind to an early Yoyo Mahdy strike, the Lilywhites fired back through Patrick Hoban, Michael Duffy and substitute Georgie Kelly. They are now seven points behind pace-setters Shamrock Rovers – who face arch-rivals Bohemians in Tallaght on Tuesday.
Vinny Perth’s men came into this contest on the back of a 3-0 victory against Finn Harps on Friday and while UCD suffered a comprehensive defeat to Bohs on the same night, they displayed no ill-effects in the opening minutes.
After Conor Davis’ precise through-ball on 11 minutes split the Dundalk defence apart, Mahdy calmly slotted beyond the reach of a stranded Gary Rogers. The Students’ joy proved short-lived, however, as the visitors were awarded a penalty four minutes later.
After Paul Doyle’s foul on Daniel Kelly, Hoban dispatched the spot-kick for his sixth goal of the season. Dundalk largely dominated the remainder of the half and although Rogers was forced to turn away a Neil Farrugia effort, UCD’s Conor Kearns was the busier of the two keepers.
In addition to diverting a Hoban header away from the target, he also produced a stunning save off Chris Shields’ long-range piledriver.
UCD held out until the break but they found themselves adrift five minutes after the resumption. After turning superbly inside the penalty area, Duffy took the ball past the advancing Kearns before finishing at a tight left-hand angle.
Dundalk looked to push on with Shields and Patrick McEleney dictating the flow of the game in midfield.
Collie O’Neill’s UCD team battled gamely but as they steamed forward searching for a stoppage-time equaliser, Georgie Kelly rounded off a sweeping counter-attack to ensure Dundalk recorded a third top-flight win in a row.
UCD – Kearns; Tobin, Scales, Collins, Doyle; O’Neill, Molloy; McDonald (McClelland 69), Davis (O’Farrell 80), Farrugia; Mahdy.
DUNDALK – Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Hoare, Jarvis; Shields, McEleney (Mountney 75); D Kelly (Flores 87), McGrath, Duffy; Hoban (G Kelly 80).
REF – D MacGraith (Mayo)
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