Second-half goals from Ciaran Kelly and Mikey Drennan helped St Patrick’s Athletic to a deserved 2-0 win over UCD at Richmond Park.
Kelly met Drennan’s corner at pace to head home his first senior goal for the club just before the hour, and the striker added a second late on.
It was no less than the Athletic merited from a game they’d dominated from the first whistle, and they clinically took the lead just as the visitors were enjoying a purple patch after the interval.
Saints boss Harry Kenny would have felt hard done-by not to see his side go in with a half-time lead after forcing a number of good saves from in-form UCD keeper Conor Kearns.
The home side should have led inside 16 minutes when Simon Madden – who made hay as a right wing-back in the space behind the attack-minded Neil Farrugia – crossed deep to Ian Bermingham.
The captain took advantage of Dan Tobin’s hesitancy to be first to the ball and, from just six yards, looked certain to score only for Kearns to get down and pull off a magnificent save.
Kearns had a somewhat shakier moment when he dropped Chris Forrester’s aimless punt and Gary Shaw very nearly scored, but he made amends by getting a strong fist behind a fierce Drennan shot.
Conor Davis did manage to hit the post for the Students before the break, only to be called back for offside, but Collie O’Neill’s side emerged from the changing sheds a different side.
They dominated utterly the first 15 minutes of the second half without creating much of note, a Gary O’Neill shot blocked bravely by Kelly their best effort.
That proved to be a key moment as it was the former Pat's underage player, who made the move back from Drogheda United in the off-season, put his side in front.
Josh Collins had done brilliantly to turn a Bermingham cross behind but it proved only temporary respite as Kelly met Drennan’s cross with a powerful header that Kearns could only slow down on its way to the net.
Kenny had introduced Jamie Lennon in place of Rhys McCabe moments before they took the lead, and the young midfielder was unplayable for the final 30 minutes.
His tenacious work saw Shaw through one-on-one with Kearns late on but, again, the goalkeeper got down low to save.
Drennan found Clifford in the box for a chance to net his second in as many games, but Kearns demonstrated top-class reflexes to once more get down low to his left.
Another lovely passing move saw Lennon in space on the left-hand side of the box and he threaded a low ball across goal that Shaw was a toe’s length from turning home.
Pat's got their second five minutes from time as Liam Scales was caught in possession by sub Darragh Markey and, after Kearns parried his shot, Drennan smashed home his sixth of the season.
St. Patrick's Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ian Bermingham, Lee Desmond, Ciaran Kelly, Kevin Toner, Simon Madden; Conor Clifford, Chris Forrester (Darragh Markey 81), Rhys McCabe (Jamie Lennon 58); Michael Drennan, Gary Shaw (Jake Walker 83).
UCD: Conor Kearns; Dan Tobin, Josh Collins, , Liam Scales, Mark Dignam; Paul Doyle, Timmy Molloy (Richie O’Farrell 80), Gary O'Neill; Jason McClelland (Sean McDonald 89), Neil Farrugia, Conor Davis (Yoyo Mahdy 77).
Referee: John McLoughlin.