UCD’s poor start to the Airtricity League Premier Division season continued at the UCD Bowl as Dundalk defeated the home side 2-1.

In a tight game, second-half goals from substitute Tiernan Mulvenna (77) and John Dillon (80) ensured the Students are left still searching for their first point of the campaign.

UCD had been compact for much of the evening, but a slice of Mulvenna magic gave the visitors the initiative on 77. Minutes later, Dillon took advantage of UCD's defensive woes to slam a second and Stephen Kenny's side held on despite a late Gareth Matthews goal from a free-kick.

Three losses on the spin meant that UCD approached this Dundalk tussle with a degree of caution. That is what happens when a team is low on confidence and the Students knew that significant improvement was required.

Dundalk might have been overturned by Sligo Rovers, but Stephen Kenny's side had shown plenty of resilience in their previous clashes with Shamrock Rovers and Shelbourne.

The Lilywhites are earning admirers for the stylish way in which they continue to pass the ball and that is what they did early on.

In the seventh minute, John Dillon ended a tidy move with a weak shot that was easily gathered by UCD custodian Mark McGinley.

Dinny Corcoran should have put UCD ahead in the 11th minute following an Andy Boyle error, but Peter Cherrie made a routine save.

In the 38th minute a splendid Robbie Creevy pass was controlled by Dave McMillan, who skipped away from the advancing Cherrie, but the UCD striker was unable to hit the target from an acute angle.

Then, on the stroke of half-time, a left wing Vinny Faherty delivery flashed across goal as Kurtis Byrne came within a whisker of applying the required touch.

Having been so woeful defensively in the reversals against Derry City and Limerick FC, the Students took some heart and encouragement from the fact that Dundalk had been frustrated.

After the restart, Keith Ward drifted in from the left flank attempting to influence the play for a Dundalk outfit that were marginally on top.

On the hour mark, Richie Towell extracted a save from Cherrie with a rising 25-yard drive as Dundalk probed.

UCD, though, were unfortunate not to pinch a 74th minute lead when substitute Tyrone McNelis released McMillan, who was thwarted by a Cherrie stop.

But Mulvenna made an instant impact bagging for Dundalk with a sweet effort in the 77th minute and Dillon nailed a second in the 80th minute.

UCD were under pressure and Matthews fizzed a free-kick into the top corner with seconds remaining, but Dundalk held out.

UCD: McGinley; Matthews, O'Connor, Douglas; Langtry (McNelis, 62), Burke, Creevy, McCabe (Walsh, 75), Russell; McMillan, Corcoran (Belhout, 62).

Dundalk: Cherrie; Rossiter (Sullivan, 77), Boyle, Shields, Massey; Dillon, Towell, Mountney, Ward (Meenan, 67); Faherty (Mulvenna, 75), Byrne.

Referee: P McLaughlin (Monaghan).