UCD came from two goals behind at Inchicore to earn a vital point in order to relieve the pressure which Drogheda have put on the Students at the bottom of the table. St Pats had gone two up after debutant Sean O’Connor stroked home a Jake Carroll cross on five minutes. UCD then dominated possession only to find themselves two behind before the break thanks to a wonder strike from David McMillan. Martin Russell’s men looked to be heading for yet another underseved defeat but the turning point came when Gary Rogers was given his marching orders for a foul on Meenan. Marshall scored the penalty and two minutes later, Graham Rusk pulled the Students level.
The Students started all guns blazing and Robbie Creevy was denied by former UCD skipper Evan McMillan thanks to a well timed sliding block after just 3 minutes. The home side started to take control of the ball though and on 5 minutes, full back Jake Carroll beat Sean Harding, his cross was met by Sean O’Connor at the back post, who coolly slotted it past Barron on the volley. It seemed as though Pats’ European games weren’t taking their toll as the home side began to stroke the ball around without causing the UCD defence too many problems.
Despite going behind so early on, UCD continued to play their football and a better connection by Paul O’Connor from Harding’s cross could have drawn them level after ten minutes. The game became quite scrappy and it could have been 2-0 to the home side when David McMillan’s low effort struck the post when Barron was well beaten.
That sparked a UCD on slought though as the Students created chance after chance. First it was Graham Rusk to squander a superb chance after great link up play between Creevy and Meenan, the winger squared it for UCD’s top scorer but he failed to make sufficient contact to score, allowing Rogers to scramble across and save it. All UCD’s chances were being created down the right as Harding crossed for Rusk, whose header just sailed wide. Corry’s free kick was then well defended by McMillan as it was heading for Leahy at the back post. It wasn’t going to be UCD’s day though as they constantly dominated proceedings but failed to beat Rogers. On 34 minutes, Dean Marshall’s cross was knocked down by Creevy to Rusk, who was in acres of space, he composed himself and beat Rogers but was denied by a goal line clearance by that man Evan McMillan again.
In a crazy spell of ten minutes, UCD created chance after chance. Harding and Meenan were causing Carroll all sorts of problems but when Harding beat the full back is shot was blocked and it fell to Marshall, who could only stick a foot out, which meant an easy save for Rogers. Just seconds later, Rusk’s shot was blocked and the ball looped to the impressive Paul O’Connor, he shot first time and was only denied by yet another fine Rogers save.
UCD were desperately unlucky not to be level or even ahead but they were made to rue their missed chances just before the break. Harding lost out to Doyle and Dave McMillan found himself in acres of space, 35 yards out and he unleashed an unstoppable effort which flew into the top corner.
Pete Mahon’s half time team talk must have been a hard hitting one as Pats came out and created a number of chances. Derek Doyle was the beneficiary but he was denied on three occasions by Barron. The second half continued as the first half had progressed, UCD were dominating the ball but unlike the first period, UCD were failing to get a run at the Pats back four.
The game changer came on 68 minutes when Meenan was sent through, he knocked it past the on rushing Rogers and the Pats keeper took him down. The referee rightly showed Rogers a red card and Marshall stepped up to beat the sub keeper Chris Bennion. Just two minutes later, UCD were level thanks to a superb cross by Meenan from the right, Rusk was free on the penalty spot and his header flew past Bennion who had to pick the ball out of his net for the second time in two minutes since coming on.
Both sides then had chances to win the game but neither could take them and the points were shared. Darren Meenan was shown two late yellow cards for arguing with the referee and then sarcastically applauding the referee’s decision. Even further into injury time, Shane McFaul was given his marching orders after picking up his second yellow card.
Martin Russell’s side thoroughly deserved the point but the draw means St Pats’ title challenge is severely dented.
St.Patricks Athletic: Gary Rogers, Derek Pender, Jake Carroll, Connor Kenna (c), Evan McCillan, Daryl Kavanagh (Shane McFaul, 45 mins), Stephen Bradley (Paul Crowley,, David McMillan, Derek Doyle, Sean O’Connor (Chris Bennion, 71 mins), David Mulcahy
UCD AFC: Ger Barron, Sean Harding, Ciaran Nangle, David O’Connor, Michael Leahy, Paul Corry (Daniel Ledwith,82 mins), Darren Meenan, Robbie Creevy (Sean Russell, 65 mins) , Graham Rusk, Paul O’Connor, Dean Marshall
Bookings: Shane McFaul (56 mins), Darren Meenan (90 mins)
Red Card: Gary Rogers (68 mins), Darren Meenan (90 mins), Shane McFaul (90 mins)
Man of the match: It could have been anyone of the midfield five or even the defence but my MOM is Paul Corry for yet another commanding performance in midfield.