UCD grabbed an injury time equaliser through Paul O’Conor that meant boos rang out from the home fans in Tallaght Stadium at the final whistle as the Hoops saw a win slip away. Shamrock Rovers had deservedly led 2-0 at half time following goals from Billy Dennehy and Daryl Kavanagh. However, they allowed first Graham Rusk and then O’Conor to score in the second half to see the game end in a 2-2 draw.
Shamrock Rovers were well worth their 2-0 halftime lead. Daryl Kavanagh was particularly lively in the first half and was involved in most of the home sides chances. The Hoops grabbed an early lead from a free kick. On five minutes UCD’s David O’Connor fouled Gary Twigg who was captaining Shamrock Rovers in Ken Oman’s absence due to injury. Billy Dennehy, who scored six goals against UCD last season, took the free kick and fired it low home into the bottom left hand corner for the 1-0 lead.
Kavanagh began to get involved and he set up Chris Turner who’s shot was saved by UCD’s goalkeeper Mark McGinley. The two linked up again this time with Turner feeding in Kavanagh but his chip cleared both the UCD ‘keeper and the bar; all this was within the first 10 minutes of the match.
Twigg was the next Rovers players to try and add to Rovers’ lead. He took Kavanagh’s cross on his chest but his spectacular overhead kick drifted wide of the UCD goal.
On the half hour mark, Turner gathered the ball in midfield and was afforded time and space by UCD to power towards the UCD box. With options left and right he passed to Twigg on his right. Twigg's cross, or maybe a shot, on his weaker right foot missed the goal but Kavanagh stretching could only get his studs onto the ball as it went wide.
UCD had to battle to get possession in the first half and Daniel Ledwith had their first shot on goal but Oscar Jansson was untroubled. Chris Lyons picked up Paul Corry’s pass but Rovers full back Conor McCormack put in a great tackle to snuff out the opportunity.
Kavanagh doubled Rovers’ lead on 39 minutes. He had time and space to turn outside the UCD area and get a curling right foot shot that found the top right hand corner of the net.
The visitors had a great chance to pull one back three minutes from half time. Corry linked up again with Lyons and, as Jansson advanced outside his area to close down the UCD striker, Lyons lifted the ball over the ‘keeper but also over the Rovers bar.
UCD manager’s talk at half time certainly worked as Martin Russell’s men stepped up their performance in the second half. Two minutes into the half Corry’s 25 yard shot clipped the top of the bar and post and from a corner Daniel Ledwith’s header went over the bar.
The ball was in the UCD net on 55 minutes but it was ruled out for offside after an excellent passing move by Rovers. Dennehy controlled a high ball excellently and fed Stephen Rice. Gary McCabe then got on the ball and his centre was struck by Chris Turner from outside the area. McGinley couldn't hold the shot. Twigg picked up the rebound and chipped the 'keeper close in on goal but the offside flag was up.
Three minutes later UCD had won themselves a penalty as McCormack took down Ledwith in the box. Graham Rusk rolled the ball into the left hand side of the net as Jansson dived to Rusk’s right.
Rovers manger Stephen Kenny responded by taking off Daryl Kavanagh in a move that perplexed the Rovers fans as Kavanagh had been Rovers’ best player. The home side didn’t just sit back on their lead with Twigg very much involved in the search for a third for the Hoops. Conor Powell hit a long ball to Twigg who gathered his own header but his shot went wide of the post and McCabe couldn’t get on to it to score. Second half substitute Killian Brennan played in Twigg but McGinley spread himself well to save.
Craig Sives hit the side netting from a deep McCabe corner before McCabe himself blazed over a great chance when McGinley dropped a ball under pressure from Twigg with 15 minutes to go.
The equaliser could have come from Paul O’Conor on 78 minutes as he found himself free in the six-yard box but Jansson was in a perfect position to hold onto the header that was straight at him. However, in injury time the Students grabbed an equaliser. Mark Langtry passed to O’Conor and his right foot drive at the edge of the six yard box found the back of the net to stun the Shamrock Rovers fans in the stadium.
The final whistle was greeted by boos by the Shamrock Rovers fans, as they could hardly believe that they had seen their team concede another late equaliser as they had done a week earlier against Derry City. No doubt that UCD’s manager Martin Russell was the happier of the two managers at the conclusion to the game.
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Conor McCormack (Kerrea Gilbert 80), Craig Sives, Graham Gartland, Conor Powell; Gary McCabe, Chris Turner, Stephen Rice, Billy Dennehy (Aaron Greene 60); Gary Twigg, Daryl Kavanagh (Killian Brennan 60).
Subs not used: Reyaad Pierterse, Sean Gannon, Colin Hawkins, Gary O’Neill.
Bookings: Turner (14).
UCD: Mark McGinley; Hugh Douglas, Mick Leahy, David O’Connor, Daniel Ledwith; Graham Rusk, Paul O’Conor, Paul Corry, Robbie Benson (Samir Belhout, 46), Mark Langtry; Chris Lyons (Cillian Morrison 84).
Subs Not Used: Niall Corbet, James Kavanagh, Gary Burke, Barry McCabe, Stephen Doyle.
Bookings: Douglas (16), Belhout (85).
Referee: Dave McKeon.
Attendance: 2,500 (estimate).
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Daryl Kavanagh.
Macdara made his debut as a football supporter in Lansdowne Road watching Ireland defeat Liechtenstein. He still believes one day he will see his club Shamrock Rovers win an FAI Cup. You can follow Macdara on twitter @macdarabueller