Georgie Kelly was UCD’s leading scorer last season with 14 goals to greatly help their promotion push last year before his summer move to Oriel Park.
The 22-year-old striker returned to the UCD Bowl yesterday to score his first league goal for his new club in putting some late gloss on the scoreline as Dundalk had to come from behind for the second time this season to beat his former club.
Given the number of chances created, the champions made hard work of the victory which moves them above Bohemians into second place, seven points behind leaders Shamrock Rovers, ahead of tonight’s Dublin derby at Tallaght Stadium. UCD remain second bottom.
Vinny Perth’s side started on the front foot with Michael Duffy and skipper Brian Gartland off target with efforts. But just as they did in this season’s first encounter in February, it was UCD who stole the lead with their first attack on 11 minutes.
With the visitors’ defence napping, Conor Davis threaded the ball through for Yoyo Mahdy who showed admirable composure to side-foot into the net.
Dundalk’s response was almost immediate as they were level within three minutes. Daniel Kelly outfoxed Paul Doyle to skip to the endline only to be tripped inside the area by the left-back.
Patrick’s Hoban scored emphatically from the spot kick for the fourth penalty of his six league goals this season. It also marked Hoban’s 69th league strike for the club, equalling Joey Donnelly’s record going back to 1943.
The new record should have arrived 12 minutes later. Having cleverly flicked the ball over right-back Daniel Tobin, Duffy’s cross picked out Hoban, whose header was straight at Kearns with the loose ball frantically cleared.
With the visitors always a menace in the final third, Kearns saved well from a Duffy free kick, and then at the foot of a post from Sean Gannon, before Jamie McGrath curled a shot inches wide following a poor clearance from the UCD keeper.
The busy home keeper then went full stretch six minutes before the interval to bat away a stinging drive from Chris Shields as the visitors laid siege to the home goal.
Dundalk thought they’d gone ahead in first-half stoppage with a spectacular volley from Duffy, but Mayo referee Damien MacGraith had already blown the whistle for the interval.
The mercurial Duffy wasn’t to be denied, though, as he put Dundalk ahead five minutes into the second with a brilliant goal. An audacious turn in the box saw him ghost past a defender. He then rounded Kearns before firing to the net from a tight angle for his third league strike of the campaign.
Kearns prevented Dundalk extending their lead just past the hour mark, parrying away a low drive from Hoban after Duffy opened UCD up in a brisk counter-attack.
With UCD chasing the game late on, Dundalk struck for their third goal two minutes into added time. Played in by fellow substitute Jordan Flores, Kelly had plenty of time before sweeping home off his left foot.
Kearns; Tobin, Collins, Scales, Doyle; O’Neill, Mollo; McDonald (McClelland, 69), Davis (O’Farrell, 80), Farrugia; Mahdy.
Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Hoare, Jarvis; D. Kelly (Flores, 86), Shields, McEleney (Mountney, 75), Duffy; McGrath; Hoban (G. Kelly, 80).
Damien MacGraith (Mayo).