Byrne brace keeps Rovers on track
Shamrock Rovers 3 UCD 1
Jack Byrne grabbed a brace of goals at the Tallaght Stadium to help Shamrock Rovers towards a hard-earned victory over UCD in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
Despite being on level terms with their south Dublin rivals for large stretches, the Hoops dug deep to hold onto their seven-point cushion at the summit of the table.
Fresh from his call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad for their recent internationals, Byrne exerted a major influence for the hosts. He broke the deadlock on 19 minutes.
Following excellent build-up play by former Students midfielder Ronan Finn, Byrne was picked out in a central position. Though UCD Conor Kearns got fingertips to his firm strike, he couldn't deny the Hoops man his second goal of the campaign.
Rovers dominated possession for the majority of the opening period, but they were hit with an unexpected sucker punch in the 37th-minute.
Via Neil Farrugia's pull-back on the left wing, Yousef Mahdy fired past the helpless Alan Mannus.
Having earned their first win of the campaign at home to Finn Harps two weeks earlier, UCD were back on course for another morale-boosting result.
In a bid to inject fresh life into their challenge, Rovers boss Stephen Bradley introduced Joel Coustrain, Trevor Clarke and Orhan Vojic off the bench.
This sparked an extended spell of attacking pressure, and Byrne was ideally placed to turn home a Finn pass on 83 minutes.
In a final throw of the dice, UCD sent Kearns forward for a corner deep into stoppage-time.
However, after Rovers successfully cleared their lines, Aaron McEneff slotted into an empty net to seal all three points.