Cork City had to settle for a point this evening as Colin Healy’s side were held to a stalemate by a resolute UCD outfit.
The teams shared the spoils in an even contest where both sides will feel they could have taken more from the game.
Both teams came into the game in mixed form, with consistency something Cork City have struggled with all season, but in recent weeks the same can be said of UCD.
City made two changes from the FAI Cup win over Sligo Rovers, with both new arrivals, Aaron Bolger and Barry Coffey, coming straight into the midfield.
The early exchanges were largely dominated by the home side with City holding much of the possession, with Bolger able to dictate play from his deep-lying role.
The first chance of note fell to Dylan McGlade in the 18th minute. After a neat exchange between himself and Beineón O’Brien-Whitmarsh, the former found himself with the ball at his feet in the UCD box, but his attempt sailed over the crossbar.
After a lacklustre opening, UCD grew into the game, winning a succession of corners just before the half-hour mark. Their rise was partly down to some lose passing by Coffey who was looking to find his feet in a City shirt.
The first half finished on a scrappy note with neither team able to grab the initiative before the interval.
The 49th minute saw Cork City score the opening goal. A searching ball from the City backline found space in behind the UCD rear guard and Cian Murphy pounced on UCD netminder Lorcan Healy’s attempt to clear his lines at the edge of his own box. With a clear route to goal, he took his time and slotted home into the empty net. A seventh league goal of the season for the in-form Tipperary man.
UCD’s best chance was to follow directly after the opener. League top scorer Colm Whelan found space down the side of the City defence, but he was thwarted by a good save from Mark McNulty, who was able to tip his attempt over the crossbar.
City’s lead didn’t last long, however. The Students drew level on in the 60th minute through Jack Keaney. His well-struck free-kick cannoned off the crossbar, rebounding off a luckless McNulty, and finding its way into the City net.
O’Brien-Whitmarsh, who was sharp throughout, looked to force the issue as the second half wore on.
The 80th minute brought about a chance for the visitors. After some last-ditch defending by City, the ball fell to Mark Dignam whose low drive came back off the post.
A late injury to Jonas Hakkinen led to seven minutes of added time, but neither side was able to grab a late winner.
McNulty; Crowley, Honohan, Hakkinen (Kennedy, 89), Hurley; Coleman, Coffey, Bolger (Heaven, 63); McGlade, O’Brien-Whitmarsh, Murphy.
Healy; Osam, Todd, O'Brien, Weir; Kerrigan, Keaney, Brennan (Keane, 72), Doyle, Dignam (Lennon, 90); Whelan.