LOI Premier Division
The remarkable resurgence of UCD continued on Monday night as Collie O’Neill’s side moved three points clear of relegation with victory over high-flying Bohemians.
Yoyo Mahdy’s stunning strike after just eight minutes proved to be the only goal of a game that may be overshadowed by clashes between the two sets of players at full time.
College keeper Conor Kearns pulled off a string of fine saves to earn his side the points but Bohs captain Derek Pender took exception to his celebrating in front of the away support at the whistle.
Both players may have an anxious wait to find what, if any, disciplinary proceedings are taken but for UCD it’s seven points from nine that’s put daylight between themselves and Finn Harps.
Mahdy’s strike was a goal worthy of winning any game, the striker beating James Finnerty to a 30/70 ball before unleashing a rocket past the helpless James Talbot.
Both sides had half-chances in a first half full of action but the best chance fell to Bohs on the midway point as Keith Ward managed to break the otherwise highly-effective UCD offside line.
The playmaker’s cross was deflected into the path of Kevin Devaney at the far post but Kearns did brilliantly to close the distance and smother the winger’s shot.
Finnerty almost made up for his role in Mahdy’s goal as he continued his run from defence to attack but, after being played in by Darragh Leahy, he could only shoot at Kearns.
Ward breached UCD’s high offside line early in the second half and looked to have levelled with a delightful dink over the top, but once again Kearns produced a top drawer save. He tipped over a long-range effort from Mandroiu but it was in the fifth minute of injury-time that he produced his best save, keeping out Darragh Leahy’s powerful header from point-blank range.
Kearns, a big Shamrock Rovers fan, took particularly glee in expressing his delight to the away fans at the final whistle as one of Dublin’s more timid derbies produced a rare moment of fireworks.
“It’s something that other teams do it against us,” O’Neill told the Dublin Gazette.
“It was electric. Bohs fans were absolutely electric and we had a bit of a good following too. It adds to it.
“It’s part of the reason as to why these guys are doing so well. You want to play in games like this. Nobody wants to go back to the First Division.
“Getting the first goal is vitally important because it gives us something to hold onto. The first goal, I’ve found, is so vital in this division. It really is. What you can do then is you can manage the game.
“That’s something we’ve learned to do and we’ve done it pretty well tonight. It drags you through the game and gives you something extra to hold onto.”