First-half goals by Ronan Finn and Dean Kelly set Shamrock Rovers on course for a clear-cut victory over UCD at Belfield last night.
Hugh Douglas could well have handed the hosts a dream start after four minutes but his header from Chris Mulhall’s free-kick was directed far too close to Barry Murphy, who gathered comfortably.
The visitors dominated play from that early scare and both Gary McCabe and Kelly went close before Sean O’Connor headed wastefully over from McCabe’s inviting delivery.
It took 27 minutes for the Hoops to finally open the scoring as Finn timed his run to perfection to fire home from eight yards after an excellent low cross from the overlapping Simon Madden.
That lead was deservedly doubled on 45 minutes, with Madden once again the architect with a sublime cross that Kelly powered home from ten yards.
Rovers should have added to that advantage within 13 minutes of the restart as Finn shot wildly over the bar after another enterprising sortie from the outstanding Madden.
Despite not showing the enterprise of their first-half play, the Hoops were increasingly comfortable as the contest evolved with Kelly, McCabe and Zayed spurning chances to enhance their position.
UCD: O’Donnell; Douglas, Kavanagh, Boyle, Matthews; Mulhall (Molloy, 64), Creevy, Crowe, Benson (Burke, 71), Langtry; Belhout.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Murphy; Madden, Kenna, McGuinness, Cornwall; McCabe, Bayly (Robinson, 82), Finn, O’Connor (Sheppard, 70); Kelly (Kilduff, 75), Zayed.
Referee: Paul Tuite (Dublin).