The Students went in front on 37 minutes when Paul O'Connor had a shot from 25 yards pushed out by Orchard keeper Keith Gallagher to allow 17-year-old winger Sean Russell to fire home the rebound from close range.
Gallagher pulled off a string of saves to keep Orchard in it but he had no chance when College eventually stretched their lead on 67 minutes. A Russell shot from 14 cards crashed off the underside of the crossbar and substitute Stephen Doyle was there to fire the rebound into the unguarded net.
To their credit, Orchard fought back and skipper Alan McNevin pulled a goal back on 80 minutes when heading home from close range. College lived dangerously in the dying minutes; when first Crowther had a shot blocked by 'keeper Ger Barron and from the rebound Sheppard struck the bar.
CHERRY ORCHARD: Gallagher; O'Sullivan (Brennan 83), Nataro, Roche (Byrne 79); McNeill, Curran, McNevin, Collins (P O'Connor 64); Sheppard, Crowther.
UCD: Barron, Harding, Scallon, Leahy, Nangle; Marshall (Doyle 62), P O'Connor, Corry, Meenan, Russell; Belhout (Morrison 70).
Referee: Damien Hancock (Dublin).