Dundalk won 2-1 against the Students from UCD picked up their first win of the season in a tense encounter at Oriel Park.

The home side grabbed their first goal of the season in the 51st minute when Chris Shields headed home from a Nathan Murphy free-kick, and Shane O'Neill's looping header made it 2-0 soon after.

UCD got back into it when Graham Rusk slotted home from the penalty spot with 22 minutes left but the Lilywhites held on for a crucial win.

The game came to life with chances at either end in quick succession in the 21st minute.

A flurry of quick passes between Michael Rafter and O'Neill saw the ball fall invitingly for Stephen McDonnell just inside the penalty area. His chipped effort beat goalkeeper Mark McGinley but not the bar and a combination of Ciaran Nangle and McGinley somehow stopped Rafter's follow up from crossing the line.

Play quickly switched to the other end and with the Dundalk back four caught out, Chris Mulhall found himself through on goal but Peter Cherrie saved well to his right.

Dundalk pressed for an opener and McGinley did well to push a stinging effort from Rafter away before the striker and Paul Walsh just couldn't get on the end of a McDonnell cross just before half-time.

The home side made the vital breakthrough in the 51st minute. Murphy curled in a wicked free-kick from the right and skipper Shields was on hand to power home a header from close range for his, and Dundalk's first goal of the season.

They doubled that tally within four minutes. The ball found its way to the back post and O'Neill looped his header over McGinley to put daylight between the sides.

UCD refused to lie down and they were back in the game after 68 minutes. Referee Phil Caschera adjudged Nathan Murphy to have taken down Rusk in the penalty area and the striker picked himself up to tuck the spot kick away.

With the home fans fearing the worst, UCD pushed for a late equaliser and Rusk almost snatched a late point with a header but Dundalk held on for a much needed win.

Dundalk: Peter Cherrie, Ben McLaughlin (Cian Byrne 71), Derek Foran, Liam Burns, Nathan Murphy; Paul Walsh, Chris Shields, John Mountney, Stephen McDonnell (Dan Cunningham HT); Michael Rafter, Shane O'Neill (Chris Reilly 65).

UCD: Mark McGinley, Daniel Ledwith, Ciaran Nangle, David O'Connor, James Kavanagh, Paul Corry (Hugh Douglas 84), Paul O'Conor, Barry McCabe (Mark Langtry 62), Robbie Benson (Cillian Morrison 62), Graham Rusk, Chris Mulhall.

REFEREE: Phil Caschera (Dublin).