The chilly reception received by former UCD stars Andy Boyle and Keith Ward failed to distract the Lilywhites from grabbing all three points at the Belfield Bowl on Saturday.  Equally chilly but conducive playing conditions failed to inspire as this clash proved one of defensive resoluteness, sick largely uneventful for 70 minutes.

Martin Russell’s  UCD, buy viagra coming into the game on the back of three defeats in their opening three fixtures including a 0-6 drubbing at the hands of Derry City, cialis were predictably tentative but keen to play football while the seemingly attacking 4-3-3 formation of Dundalk frequently reverted to a 4-5-1 making for a relatively cagey affair.  With the highly reputed former Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Kenny at the helm, Dundalk, through a fresh brand of passing football, have set about proving themselves a force with which to be reckoned in the early stages of the Airtricity League after narrowly avoiding relegation last term.

In a first half which saw the Students come out marginally on top, the match was starved of goalmouth action thanks to the failure of diagonal long ball tactics employed by both sides.  Dundalk number ten, Keith Ward, threatened down the left flank on occasion but was dealt with competently by UCD full back Gareth Matthews.  Ward and fellow front men Vinny Faherty and Kurtis Byrne were effectively bystanders as Dundalk tried to bypass the Students’ defensive line with an extended period of aerial bombardment; a threat confidently neutralised by centre halves Hughie Douglas and captain David O’Connor.

It was UCD who produced the most clear cut chance of the opening skirmishes. Dinny Corcoran completed the hard part, holding off Andy Boyle having been put through by Barry McCabe. Unfortunately, Corcoran scuffed his right footed effort which was saved by the foot of Dundalk goalkeeper Peter Cherrie, whose bravery throughout the game was admirable.

A last ditch interception from O’Connor prevented Vinny Faherty from breaking the deadlock from a John Dillon cross ten minutes later before Gareth Matthews’ perfectly timed sliding challenge on Kurtis Byrne in the dying embers of the half ensured that that teams went into the break at 0-0 after a dull opening half.

The Students could not be faulted for lack of composure in build-up movements and defensive organisation but were not producing the fighting mentality demanded of a team without a point three games into the league season. Perhaps the fact that referee Paul McLaughlin needed not produce a single UCD yellow card was telling, although the hesitance could be down to two UCD players having already received sending-offs at this early stage in the season.

The match continued after the break in much the same vein, with both sides seemingly content to maintain possession before attempting killer passes, testing the consistency of the respective defensive units.  UCD forward David McMillan found himself increasingly isolated having threatened in the first half.  With a half an hour to run, the introduction of Samir Belhout livened things up for UCD down the left flank but it would be the Lilywhites who came closest to going in front as Faherty nearly capitalised on Mark McGinley’s fumbling of a long-range attempt.  Dundalk were looking increasingly dangerous with this writer’s man-of-the-match, right-back Mark Rossiter, causing problems for the UCD defence.  Five minutes later, Robbie Creevy beat Richie Towell to the ball to foil Dundalk once again but it was clear at this stage that the Students were the very much the object of domination.

Stephen Kenny will thank substitute Tiarnan Mulvenna for making the Dundalk boss look very wise indeed as he made the breakthrough in the 76th minute, 60 seconds after coming on to the pitch.  Belfast-born Mulvenna turned the impressive David O’Connor inside before majestically lobbing the outcoming Mark McGinley from the edge of the box in a moment of extreme composure.  The Students’ heads did not drop but they found their spirits winded five minutes later as the ball fell kindly for John Dillon in a packed UCD box. There was surprisingly ample time for the Englishman to smash the ball home from 10 yards for 0-2.

A spectacular 30 yard free kick from Gareth Matthews proved merely a consolation for UCD as Dundalk claimed all three points.  Peter Cherrie saw yellow for his time-wasting efforts after the concession of the goal and his team mates would slate Richie Towell after the last play of the game when Towell took on an ambitious attempt on the UCD goal rather than taking the ball to the corner.

UCD did not roll over at any point in the game and this was a performance from which Martin Russell can draw some optimism. The result might have gone for the Students with some luck but with four defeats from four any upturn in fortunes will necessitate a sizable boost in the side’s willingness to scrap.

-Thomas Hobbs