Leaders flex their muscles as Students wilt early and often

Shamrock Rovers had their three points assured at UCD Bowl within 20 minutes
Leaders flex their muscles as Students wilt early and often

Red sky at nigh, Shams delight: Neil Farrugia of Shamrock Rovers maintains possession at the UCD Bowl. Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

UCD 0 Shamrock Rovers 3 

Goals from Barry Cotter, Danny Mandroiu and Rory Gaffney ended this game as a contest by half-time as Shamrock Rovers maintained their rich vein of form to ease to victory at the UCD Bowl.

Since losing at St Patrick’s Athletic in early March, Stephen Bradley’s champions are now unbeaten in 13 games, ten of which they’ve won, as they stretch their lead at the top of the table to seven points ahead of Derry City hosting Dundalk tomorrow night.

UCD endured a bitter-sweet trip to Finn Harps last week, their first win of the season tarnished by in-demand striker Colm Whelan rupturing a cruciate ligament. Without him they lacked any real attacking threat here.

It had taken Rovers 40 minutes to break down UCD at Tallaght Stadium in a 3-0 opening night victory. It took five minutes here.

Jack Byrne delivered a sublime diagonal ball for the run of wingback Cotter who out jumped John Ryan at the back post to head across Kian Moore into the far corner of the UCD goalkeeper’s net.

Utterly dominant, Rovers doubled their lead on 17 minutes, again stemming from a brilliant pass. This time from the outside of Gaffney’s right foot, arced into the area for the arriving Mandroiu’s poked finish; his sixth goal in his last six games.

A worrying 39th minute injury to talisman Byrne saw Aaron Greene introduced and he provided the assist for their third goal within two minutes, crossing from the right for the hardworking Gaffney to side-foot home.

With three further changes at the break, Rovers were less effective in the final third as UCD worked hard to frustrate them over a 45 minutes in which there wasn’t one clearcut chance.

The closest Rovers came to adding to the winning margin was a Mandroiu free kick 10 minutes from time that had the power but not the accuracy to beat Moore.

UCD: Moore; Farrell (Higgins, 68), Yoro, Todd, Osam, Ryan (Keane, 54); Keaney, Verdon (Caffrey, 54); Kerrigan, Gill (Lonergan, 68), Nolan (Duffy, 54).

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Gannon, Lopes, Hoare; Cotter (Cruise, 59), Towell (O’Neill, h-t), Watts, Lyons (Farrugia, h-t); Mandroiu, Byrne (Greene, 39); Gaffney (Emakhu, h-t).

Referee: Adriano Reale (Kildare).

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