Paul Corry’s sublime 87th minute strike helped UCD record a precious 2-1 win over Shelbourne in their Airtricity League Premier Division encounter at Tolka Park tonight.
The Students opened the scoring against the odds when David McMillan fired an unstoppable shot beyond Chris Bennion in the 41st minute after good work from Dean Clarke.
Philip Hughes restored parity in the 82nd minute but Corry had the last word with a superb rising shot from 25 yards three minutes from time.
Despite not firing on all cylinders, the hosts made the far brighter start with the impressive Kevin Dawson shooting narrowly wide from 20 yards in the sixth minute.
Shelbourne continued to press and McGinley was called into action five minutes later as he tipped a Conan Byrne shot onto and eventually over the crossbar as Dawson and Stephen Hurley dominated the early midfield exchanges.
A 12th minute miss-kick from Dean Clarke aside, there was very little to see by UCD from an attacking perspective but as the game appeared to be settling down, it sparked to life after a controversial incident midway through the half.
In the 23rd minute, Shels looked to have being handed a golden opportunity to open their account when referee Graham Kelly awarded a penalty following David O’Connor’s handball but the decision was overturned by the Cork official after consultation with his assistant Declan Toland who adjudged the foul to have taken place outside the penalty area.
Unperturbed by that disappointment, the hosts continued to create chances with top scorer Philip Hughes wasting two chances within five minutes as holes began appearing in the UCD defence.
In the 32rd minute, Paddy Kavanagh released Hughes through on goal but the latter’s lobbed attempt was poorly executed and was eventually cleared to safety by Michael Leahy.
A better chance arrived five minutes later when substitute Sean Byrne rolled a glorious 50-yard pass right into his stride but from 12-yards Hughes lacked his usual composure and crashed his shot over the crossbar.
In the 39th minute, Hughes was desperately unlucky not to break the deadlock but his curling free-kick from 22 yards struck McGinley’s left-hand upright with the Students taking advantage of their fortune to open the scoring in their next attack.
Clarke was the creator on this occasion with a searing run which took him beyond Hurley and his inviting cut-back was gleefully accepted by David McMillan who hammered the ball high into Chris Bennion’s net from 16 yards.
The Reds resumed impressively after the interval with Hurley having a close-range shot blocked by Paul Corry and from the ensuing corner-kick, David Cassidy and Hurley combined well to tee-up Kavanagh who blazed over from ten yards.
The further the contest evolved, the more the UCD derived confidence from their position with Robert Benson doing exceptionally well in the 59th minute to work a threatening position but his shot failed to match the build-up play as it sailed harmlessly over Bennion’s crossbar.
When the equaliser eventually arrived, Cassidy was once again involved as he escaped down the end-line and his low cross was emphatically fired home by Hughes from four yards for a slightly undeserved leveller in the 82nd minute.
It mattered little to UCD however with Corry stamping his class on proceedings with a sumptuous strike that deservedly brought the three points back to Belfield.