UCD show a hunger for success
NOT the beautiful game we've come to expect from these two. Pat Byrne blamed UCD, although more culpable might have been a relegation system which ensnares 25 per cent of the Premier Division, a whistle happy referee and, for that matter, a very ordinary Rovers. UCD didn't blame anyone. They just made off with the points - deservedly.
Rovers may have had as much of the possession and more of the territory but UCD defended much better, counter attacked briskly and carved the better chances. The bottom line was that their players wanted it more. That much, Byrne was prepared to concede when commenting: "I think they were more up for it than we were.
"I wouldn't go out and watch football like that," he began, nobody quite sure where he was going with it. "If they (UCD) stay in the Premier Division good luck to them but that's not football. They set their stall out and got their three points, and if they want to play like that good luck to them. They were happy to bash the ball down the pitch as hard as they could possibly hit it," he said.
A summer exodus at UCD has been compounded by further depletions. With injuries to Terry Palmer and Conor Timmons, this was a return to the sound, defensive tenets of their October rising up the table when they recorded three successive 1-0 wins.
Aidan Lynch and Tony McDonnell were excellent at the heart of a sound back four; Seamus Kelly made everything stick and UCD survived a host of set pieces, heretofore their Achilles heel, and prospective Rover, Jason Colwell, generally out thought Pat Fenlon.
Save for set pieces, Marc Kenny was again almost anonymous, as was Aaron Lynch, while Sean Francis and Tony Cousins, again, did their best work with their back to goal off a limited service.
Match winner Sherlock was often two strikers rolled into one and Robbie Griffin was an intelligent, deep lying sidekick.
Byrne also disputed the validity of the decisive 17th minute goal, with Rovers claiming Sherlock was offside. Riskily pushing up in a line, Rovers were always vulnerable to Sherlock's pace and a quick breaking UCD midfield. He and Darren O'Brien had already pierced an unsure back four before the languid Griffin juggled crossfield past two defenders before releasing Darren O'Brien. As the Rovers defence did a "Tony Adams", Sherlock ran past them to tuck away the ensuing diagonal cross.
Rovers forced four successive corners on the break, McDonnell denying Paul Whelan from the fourth before a thrilling, end to end last 15 minutes, helped to erase some of what went before. O'Byrne began to pick out the runners, O'Brien shooting wide when clear; Sherlock being adjudged offside when running from his own half and then seeing his breakaway effort touched onto the post by Horgan.