An inspired Colm Whelan hit a brace as UCD battled back from two goals down against 10-man Dundalk to earn a fully deserved share of the spoils in this thriller at the UCD Bowl.
Though it's just one defeat now seven games, Dundalk drop to fourth place in the table as they still await a first away victory of the season.
While the result ended a run of four straight defeats for UCD, they remain five points adrift at the foot of the table.
With Brian Gartland in for the suspended Mark Connolly their only change, Dundalk had six ex-UCD players in their match day squad, four of whom started.
Among five changes for UCD, skipper Jack Keaney returned for his first start in five games following a hand injury, along with teenagers, goalkeeper Kian Moore and defender Eric Yoro.
The game kicked off on a near perfect spring evening as the visitors survived a right scare on three minutes whenLilies’ goalkeeper Nathan Shepperd fumbled the ball as he tried to gather following a Liam Kerrigan free kick.
The alert Whelan was quickly onto it to cleverly chip goal-ward with Darragh Leahy clearing off the line with a diving header.
Dundalk hit back with Patrick Hoban working Moore with a low drive from distance before the striker glanced a header past a post from Leahy’s arced cross.
Hoban was then instrumental in Dundalk taking the lead on 18 minutes, tenaciously winning a corner having dispossessed a sluggish Michael Gallagher.
And though Keith Ward’s delivery was headed away, it dropped for Paul Doyle - who scored twice in UCD’s promotion play-off games last year - to drill a deflected shot to the net.
A set-piece at the other end on 40 minutes wasn’t far off bringing the hosts an equaliser.
Kerrigan’s free kick from the left was met by Keaney whose header flashed inches over Shepperd’s crossbar.
A minute before the interval, UCD required some brave defending to prevent Dundalk extending their lead.
Ward slalomed in off the left flank to skip to the edge of the area before College left-back Evan Osam threw his body in the way to block the fiercely struck drive.
There was drama then in first-half stoppage time when Dundalk's experienced defender Andy Boyle, who began his career with the Students, received a straight red card for a lunging challenge on Dara Keane.
Though the home side began the second half on the front foot, they found themselves further behind on 54 minutes.
Daniel Kelly’s pace got him in behind 18-year-old Yoro who tripped the Dundalk winger.
Hoban confidently made it five goals for the season in sending Moore the wrong way from the resulting penalty.
College hit back on the hour with a sublime finish from Whelan who side footed home Mark Dignam’s pacey cross at the near post.
Substitute John Ryan worked Shepperd following a determined run and shot before UCD levelled on 76 minutes.
Evan Caffrey was pulled down in the area by former UCD skipper Robbie Benson from Adam Verdon's corner with referee Damien MacGraith pointing to the spot for the second time in the game.
Brim full of confidence, Whelan stepped up to rifle the spot-kick to the bottom corner for his fourth goal of the season.
UCD: Kian Moore; Michael Gallagher, Eric Yoro (John Ryan 56), Sam Todd, Evan Osam; Dara Keane (Adam Verdon h-t), Jack Keaney; Liam Kerrigan, Evan Caffrey, Mark Dignam (Alex Nolan 70); Colm Whelan.
Dundalk: Nathan Shepperd; Lewis Macari, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy; Paul Doyle (John Martin 90+2), Greg Sloggett; Joe Adams (Sam Bone h-t), Keith Ward (Robbie Benson h-t), Daniel Kelly (Steven Bradley 73); Patrick Hoban (David McMillan 73).
Referee: Damien MacGraith (Mayo).