Jason McClelland’s early winner ended depleted UCD’s 11-match losing streak.
Their first points in 12 games edges the bottom-of-the-table Students to within a point of Finn Harps, who have played three games more.
With two full debuts in his starting 11, UCD boss Collie O’Neill could name just one outfield player on his bench as the exodus of the side that won promotion last season continues.
To add to O’Neill’s woes, injuries deprived him of Evan Osam, Josh Collins, Jack Ryan, Dara Keane, and Sean McDonald.
Despite that, UCD passed the ball well to stun Harps in taking an eighth-minute lead for what would prove the only goal of the game.
Danu Kinsella-Bishop put McClelland in behind on the left and he advanced before drilling a crisp left-foot drive from a tight angle to the far corner for a fine first goal of the season.
A mistake by 17-year-old Harry McEvoy, on his full league debut, should have seen Harps level on 21 minutes.
Conor Kearns redeemed his young defender’s lapse with a terrific save with his feet from Nathan Boyle.
UCD continued to play with Harps keeper Mark McGinley producing a superb one-handed save from Yoyo Mahdy.
College had a couple of let-offs before the break with Kearns saving from Raff Cretaro while Boyle wasted another chance when shooting wide across goal.
Though Harps showed more impetus from the resumption, it was 70 minutes before they created a chance.
Substitute Mark Timlin’s superb cross from the left was met by Daniel O’Reilly whose downward header was brilliantly parried away by Kearns and cleared.
UCD: Kearns; Tobin, Farrell, McEvoy, Boore; Mahdy, Doyle, McClelland, Dignam; O’Farrell; Bishop.
Finn Harps: McGinley; O’Reilly, Cowan, Todd; Borg (McNamee, h-t), Harkin (Place, 70), Coyle, Russell; Cretaro (Timlin, 62); McAleer, Boyle.
Referee: Rob Rogers (Dublin).