Champions Shamrock Rovers survived a couple of early scares before duly getting their quest for three-in-a-row titles off to a winning start against newly promoted UCD at Tallaght Stadium.

Alan Mannus snuffed out a brace of scorable chances from Liam Kerrigan before Rovers took control late in the first half with goals from Sean Hoare and Danny Mandroiu.


Graham Burke was then sprung from the bench to add the gloss to a dominant second half display with a third strike later on.

Hoops manager Stephen Bradley, who watched from the stand as he served a suspension carried over from last year, made three changes from the side following last week's below-par display in the President's Cup win over St Patrick’s Athletic on penalties.

Sean Gannon, skipper Ronan Finn and Aidomo Emakhu were dropped to the bench to make way for the return of Roberto Lopes, who captained the side in the centre of a back three, a debut for Andy Lyons at right wingback while Rory Gaffney led the attack.

Promoted through the play-offs having finished third in the First Division last year, UCD started eight players aged 21 or under, with debuts for defender Eric Yoro and midfielder Dylan Duffy, 17 and 18 respectively.

If enjoying good possession from the off, Rovers were made to work hard to create openings.

With three early corners having come to nothing, it was the 12th minute before UCD were troubled.

Dylan Watts and Lee Grace linked well to play Neil Farrugia in on the left; the former Student’s composure deserting him as he blazed into the side netting.

Three minutes later, UCD showed their attacking threat.

Collie Whelan won the ball in midfield with Evan Caffrey’s first time pass putting Kerrigan through on goal. Though Alan Mannus stood up well, Kerrigan shot straight at him when he really should have scored.

If that was a warning to the sluggish home defence, it wasn’t heeded as UCD were in once again on three minutes later.

Sean Brennan’s terrific diagonal ball sent Kerrigan in behind once more with Mannus saving well, this time with his legs.

It was the 33rd minute before Mandroiu registered Rovers’ first effort on target when shooting weakly at Lorcan Healy.

But six minutes later Rovers were ahead after Barry Cotter, on for the injured Farrugia, who went off with what looked like a hamstring injury, won their fifth corner of the night.

The set piece worked a threat this time with Jack Byrne’s delivery precision itself as Hoare arrived at the near post to score with a glancing header.

And the mercurial Byrne was the architect again in first half added time with a sublime arced ball in for Mandroiu to find the top corner of the net with a brilliant diving header.

Healy deprived Mandroiu of a second seven minutes into the second half with a point-blank save after Byrne fed Gaffney out wide left to send in the cross.

Mandroiu then drilled a deflected shot off the butt of a post before Healy again thwarted him with the save of the game on 65 minutes.

Substitute Burke did finally beat Healy for a third time on 82 minutes, availing of a defensive mistake by Sam Todd to drill home from inside the area.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Hoare, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace; Andy Lyons, Dylan Watts (Richie Towell 69), Gary O’Neill, Neil Farrugia (Barry Cotter 37); Jack Byrne (Graham Burne 74), Danny Mandroiu (Aaron Greene 69); Rory Gaffney (Aidoo Emakhu 74).

UCD: Lorcan Healy; Michael Gallagher (Harry McEvoy 45), Eric Yoro, Sam Todd, Evan Osam (Danny Norris at half-time); Jack Keaney;Liam Kerrigan, Sean Brennan, Evan Caffrey (Lennon Gill 76), Dylan Duffy (Mark Dignam 76); Collie Whelan (Adam Lennon 82).

Referee: John McLoughlin (Midlands).