Dundalk went top of the Airtricity League of Ireland with a deserved 2-0 win away at UCD in a match influenced by one of the most bizarre dismissals - and one of the shortest cameos - the league is likely to see this season.
UCD’s Michael Kelly was the man who saw red early in the second half, having been on the field just three minutes.
Patrick Hoban gave the visitors the lead against ten-man UCD in the 67th minute, while Richard Towell made sure of all three points with an 83rd-minute strike.
A scrappy opening 20 minutes gave way to an entertaining second quarter which Dundalk dominated, but the first clear-cut chance fell to the home side on 21 minutes.
College broke quickly down the middle through Robbie Creevy, who fed Craig Walsh on the edge of the box. His shot took a wicked deflection off Dane Massey, forcing Peter Cherrie to save as the ball dipped under his crossbar.
Dundalk’s first corner came in the 32nd minute and nearly produced the opening goal. Darren Meenan’s delivery found Brian Gartland, whose header flew just wide.
Two minutes later, Dundalk’s second corner also threatened to break the deadlock. Again, Meenan sent it in from the right-hand side where it was met by Dean Massey. His headed effort lacked direction and Andy Boyle retrieved the loose ball on the left, where he sent in a cross for Hoban, who got too much on the ball and sent it wide.
When Mark Rossiter sent in a cross in the 36th minute, Hoban’s header was deflected behind and Dundalk had their third corner in almost as many minutes. Having upped the tempo, suddenly the visitors were looking dangerous.
Ger Barron was called into action from that corner. Meenan sent it over, this time from the left, and Massey’s diving header forced Barron into a great save, tipping it over the bar.
The second half was full of incident, including the unusual sending-off.
Having introduced Cillian Morrisson ten minutes into the second half, Martin Russell sought to bring Michael Kelly into the fray two minutes later. A technical infringement led the referee to book the oncoming sub before he entered the field of play, and within three minutes, Kelly would be on his way back to the dressing rooms. He fouled Stephen O’Donnell in the centre of the park in the 60th minute and duly received his second booking and the Students were down to ten men.
Dundalk’s one-man advantage was converted into a lead within seven minutes.
Great work on the left from O’Donnell, who moments before had a shot from just outside the box well saved by Barron, saw him put a great ball into the danger area for Hoban, who calmly slotted it first time past the College keeper.
Dundalk were able to control it from then on and it was no surprise, and no more than they deserved, when their lead was doubled seven minutes from time.
The away side pressed and pressed, and when the ball was half-cleared to Towell from yet another attack, he slotted home from 17 yards with the outside of his foot past the helpless Barron.
When news of the result at Inchicore filtered through to the Belfield Bowl, chants of ‘We are top of the league’ was the response from the delighted away fans.
UCD: Ger Barron, Gareth Mathews, David O’Connor, Michael Leahy (Michael Kelly 57), Tomás Boyle, Robbie Creevy, Craig Walsh (Barry McCabe 87), Samir Belhout (Cillian Morrisson 55), Robbie Benson, Dean Clarke, Seán Russell
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Chris Shields, Stephen O’Donnell, Patrick Hoban (Vinny Faherty 87), Kurtis Byrne (Tiarnan Mulvenna 80), Dane Massey (Jordan Keegan 89), Richie Towell, Mark Rossiter, Darren Meenan
Referee: T Connolly