Improving UCD hold St Patrick's

 

UCD are beginning to find their feet after a faltering start to the campaign and yesterday they produced arguably their best display so far in holding St Patrick's at Richmond Park.

St Patrick's thus lost a great chance to join Shelbourne at the top of the Premier Division table. They started well and created the first chance, Martin Reilly's second-minute shot being deflected out for a corner, but UCD began to exert more influence at midfield as the half wore on.

In the 21st minute 17-year-old Wayne Fitzell, latched on to a poor clearance and goalkeeper Trevor Wood had to move smartly to turn his shot over the bar.

However, in the 25th minute the ball was in the back of the net, the UCD net. Central defender Aidan Lynch was for once a little too casual with a clearance and St Patrick's captain Eddie Gormley moved quickly down the right wing.

Martin Reilly, racing into the box, rose to meet it and neatly flicked it into the bottom left corner to give the home side a lead they scarcely deserved. UCD, seemingly unperturbed, continued to build promising moves from midfield, Ciaran Kavanagh linking effectively with Eoin Bennis on a number of occasions. Big central defender Tony McDonnell headed narrowly over from a corner in the 27th minute and four minutes later Jason Sherlock's striking partner, the industrious Robert Griffin, wasn't far away with a shot from 20 yards.

A 33rd-minute corner for UCD was only cleared as far as Kavanagh and his snap volley from 30 yards looked destined for the top corner, but Wood made a great save.

Two minutes later St Patrick's, showing admirable economy, nearly went two up. Gormley took the ball on from Reilly outside the box and his left-footed curling shot grazed the left upright.

UCD continued to create the chances and finally just two minutes before half-time they got the equaliser. Robert McAuley's long throw from the right was flicked on by Robert Griffin and headed home by the incoming Mick O'Byrne.

UCD nearly went ahead 15 seconds into the second half when Sherlock pounced on Colin Hawkin's mis-hit clearance and his shot from a tight angle was taken off the line by an alert Willie Burke.

With a start like that another highly entertaining 45 minutes seemed on the cards. That, however, proved to be the closest either side came to scoring as the tempo of the game dropped noticeably.

Afterwards St Patrick's manager Pat Dolan was philosophical. "UCD thoroughly deserved their point. I'm delighted with my players. It wasn't happening for us today but they didn't throw the towel in. You get days like this in a league campaign. It's not a sprint we're in, it's a marathon," he said.