Set pieces the key as St Pat’s are too strong for UCD

Noah Lewis scores twice from headers as St Pat’s stay in touch in the title race

UCD 1 St Patrick’s Athletic 3

(Kinsella-Bishop 86); (Carty 7, Lewis 40, 64)

Fool University College Dublin once, shame on St Patrick’s Athletic. Fool them three times from corners and it becomes the story of the game.

Noah Lewis was a crossbar shy of a hat-trick of headers from Ben McCormack corners.


There is plenty to admire about Andy Myler’s UCD. Unable to attract the calibre of player required to keep them in the Premier Division, they usually bring a diligence to these local derbies that delivers a competitive spectacle.

Usually. Eight times inside 64 minutes St Pat’s spun dead balls into an area where UCD goalkeeper Lorcan Healy is supposed to dominate. Three times they scored. Twice the six-foot-four-inch frame of Lewis exposed a malfunction at the back post from McCormack deliveries.

There is plenty of blame to go around when such a glaring weakness is not addressed.

Victory keeps St Pat’s in the title race at the halfway mark of the season. Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers also won, and Derry City drew with Shelbourne to leave Jon Daly’s side fourth in the table ahead of Monday’s fixture against the Candystripes at Richmond Park.

In the preamble, St Pat’s made no secret about eight of this match day squad being homegrown. Six are teenagers with number 41 Mason Melia among the substitutes. The 15-year-old was outstanding for the Republic of Ireland at the Under-17 European Championships in Hungary, a tournament that was decided on penalties with France pipping Germany as League of Ireland action resumed.

Even the warm-up must be exciting for Melia, as he soaked up the unique atmosphere of UCD Bowl while listening to sage advice from Thijs Timmermans. Or so it seemed. The Dutch midfielder could easily be praising Helios for the blistering sunshine that has cloaked Dublin of late.

Melia arrived after 73 minutes. He made an impression. Operating off the left, his first contribution was an underhit pass to Serge Atakayi that went out for another corner. UCD were visibly spooked as the Inchicore drums raised the tension.

Unsurprisingly, a healthy crowd made their way down the canal from Inchicore in what has become a lively takeover of the old rugby ground by rival supporters.

Most visiting teams have found it hard going. Sure, Derry City won 4-0 on the Belfield campus and Shamrock Rovers won 3-0 but Shelbourne and Bohemians both dropped two points in the leafy southside.

Well organised and marshalled by skipper Dara Keane, the students seek to play decent football and with St Pat’s losing another centre half, when Jay McGrath limped off to join Joe Redmond and Tom Grivosti in rehabilitation, the hint of a famous scalp was in the air.

Forewarned, St Pats tore into Myler’s side, targeting another under-17 international in Daniel Babb but the right-back coped admirably. Still, the first goal came from an attack down the left in the seventh minute when Healy’s flailing punch of a McCormack corner allowed Conor Carty nod his third goal of the season into an empty net.

St Pat’s had all the possession, and the collective patience to make it count, although Healy’s reflex parry of McCormack’s snapshot kept the students afloat.

With Babb refusing to flinch, St Pat’s attacked down the right wing where Evan Osam held the line. The fathers, Phil Babb and Paul Osam, never crossed paths during storied careers but their sons make for an effective duo.

Chris Forrester had the next chance to grab a second goal before half-time only to slide a shot wide following McGrath’s neat pass.

Healy’s diving save, from another McClelland effort, cast a feeling of inevitability over the contest. A far superior St Pat’s faced by UCD industry, this ensured that Forrester constantly found the ball at his feet; the veteran playmaker being the likeliest to unpick the students’ low block.

Corner number six made it 2-0. Lewis, having just replaced McGrath, leapt over Jake Doyle at the back post when Healy, again, came and missed McCormack’s inswinger.

Lewis’ second put the result beyond doubt but Danu Kinsella Bishop arrived off the bench to rifle a late consolation goal for UCD.

One of the last moments of the night was a miscued pass wide left that Melia controlled on his thigh before turning away from a UCD defender to keep St Pat’s moving forward. Three neat touches, plenty more to come.

UCD: Healy; Babb (O’Connor 14), O’Brien (O’Regan ht), Wells, Osam; Behan, Keane, Barr, Bolton (Gallagher ht), Norris (Nolan 75); Doyle (Kinsella-Bishop).

St Patrick’s Athletic: Lyness; Brockbank (Timmermans 61), Curtis, McGrath (Lewis 40), Breslin; Lennon (Atayaki 73), Forrester, Murphy (Melia 73); McCormack, Carty, McClelland (Lonergan 61).

Referee: Gavin Colfer.

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent