LOI Premier Division
Shamrock Rovers 3
A virtuoso performance from Jack Byrne helped Shamrock Rovers to their seventh win of the season at home to UCD on Friday night.
The recent Ireland call-up found the net 11 minutes from time as Rovers finished off a battling UCD side who had chances of their own to take the three points.
Byrne had given the Hoops the lead midway through the first half and Stephen Bradley’s side should have been home and hosed by half time but were instead pegged back by Yoyo Mahdy.
Rovers missed a hatful of chances during the opening period, with striker Aaron Greene particularly culpable as a hat-trick of chances he should have put away went abegging.
Greene should have fired Rovers in front after 14 minutes when an outstanding slide-rule pass from Byrne played him in, but he fired tamely at keeper Conor Kearns.
They didn’t have to wait long to hit the front as Byrne bent a shot towards the corner that Kearns looked to have covered, but the ball slithered through the keeper’s hands and into the net.
The error would have been all the more embarrassing for Kearns as he’s a boyhood Shamrock Rovers fan who has stood in the home end, and he compounded it with another shortly after.
Kearns redeemed himself and then some on the half-hour as Byrne dropped a shoulder and sent a shot sailing into the top corner, only for the keeper to pull off an outstanding fingertip save.
And UCD hit back six minutes from the break when Mahdy held the ball up in the centre and fed Neil Farrugia, who ghosted past Roberto Lopes before teeing up the striker for an easy finish.
Rovers still should have taken a lead into half time as Sean Kavanagh’s ball across the six-yard box was begging to be tapped in by Greene, but he missed the ball.
Greene fluffed another chance 20 minutes from time as he was picked out at the back post by Coustrain, but he couldn’t get a decent contact on the ball.
Byrne eventually showed him how it was done, showing a cool head to shoot low through a mass of bodies on the line after Finn’s cross had deflected off Josh Collins.
And McEneff added the third goal in injury time as Kearns was caught upfield for a corner and the Derryman was played through by Trevor Clarke before finishing into an empty net.
“We have to respect that UCD have got some very good players,” Bradley told the Dublin Gazette.
“When you don’t put your chance away like we didn’t in the first half – I think we had four chances within the opening 20 minutes – you’re obviously going to let them in the game.
“That’s what we done, but I’m really happy with the way we kept playing our way and we got the goal in the end.”