Shelbourne went six points clear at the top of the eircom League Premier Division after a comfortable 2-0 win over a disappointing UCD side at Belfield.

Shels' victory, coupled with Derry City's goalless draw with Drogheda United, puts the Drumcondra club in a strong position ahead of their crucial top-of-the-table clash with the Candystripes at The Brandywell on Tuesday night.

Goals in either half from Jason Byrne and substitute Richie Baker proved enough for Shelbourne, who enjoyed a relatively tension-free evening.

Chances were at a premium in the opening stages and 18 minutes had elapsed before a shot on target was registered. It came from Shelbourne defender Sean Dillon, who produced a tame effort from outside the box after an Ndo free-kick eventually found its way to him.

The deadlock was broken seconds later when Jason Byrne was presented with and availed of the simplest of chances. Quigley fed the ball to Alan McNally, but the UCD defender's subsequent attempted pass was intercepted by Bobby Ryan, who wasted no time in bursting into the penalty area.

A deflection on Ryan's cross took the ball cruelly past the advancing Quigley and Byrne was able to tap into an empty net, just yards from the line.

Shels could have extended their lead on 26 minutes, but Glen Crowe failed to make the most of a Stuart Byrne cross that found the number nine unmarked inside the penalty area.

The visitors spurned another opportunity on 37 minutes when Ollie Cahill and Dave Rogers combined down the left wing only for the former to scuff his attempt to cross.

The Students opened the second half on a positive note and almost levelled matters just seconds after the restart. Conan Byrne's cross nearly caught Shelbourne goalkeeper Steve Williams off-guard, but the Welshman readjusted his feet in time to prevent the UCD midfielder’s cross becoming an embarrassing equaliser.

Shelbourne wrapped up the points on 51 minutes when Baker, who replaced Shels' captain Owen Heary at the interval, once again showed his prowess in the air. The home defence, not for the first time, went missing in action, as an in-swinging Ndo corner was met by Baker who expertly glanced home a downward header.

The hosts rarely tested their opponents' defence and the most Williams had to deal with in the first 80 minutes was harmless headers and inaccurate crosses.

Shelbourne should have made it a more comprehensive victory with just under a quarter of an hour to go. Glen O'Neill, who had replaced Jason Byrne, took a free awarded on the six-yard line quickly and, with the goal at his mercy, Crowe blasted over when it seemed impossible that he could evade the target.

The miss ensured justice, however, as the free-kick was awarded when Quigley eas harshly punished for catching what appeared to be a sliced clearance by Paul Crowley.

UCD enjoyed a decent period with around ten minutes remaining and their best chance came on 79 minutes when Crowley and Ronan Finn linked well on the left edge of the Shelbourne box only for the former's effort to be helped wide by Williams.

The winners had a late penalty claim waved away but it hardly mattered at that stage and Shelbourne inched closer to regaining the crown they surrendered to Cork City last season.

UCD: Quigley, Kenna, K Doyle (D Ryan 45 mins), Crowley, McNally, McDonnell (c), C Byrne (P Byrne 71), Dicker (Harte 66), Sammon, Finn.

Shelbourne: Williams, Heary (c), Baker (h-t), Harris, Dillon, B Ryan, S Byrne, Ndo, Cahill, Crowe, J Byrne (O'Neill 66 mins).

Referee: Richie Winter (Dublin).