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O'Neill gets Dundalk off mark

SEAN McCaffrey picked up the first win of his Dundalk tenure as the Lilywhites saw off a tenacious UCD side at Oriel Park last night.

Goals from Chris Shields and Shane O'Neill put McCaffrey's men in the ascendancy but a penalty by Graham Rusk left the home side biting their nails until the full-time whistle.

Dundalk named 16-year-old Ben McLaughlin in their starting XI, the full-back a grandson of legendary League of Ireland boss Jim McLaughlin.

The home side almost hit the front in the 21st minute when Stephen McDonnell's clipped effort beat UCD 'keeper Mark McGinley but hit the crossbar. Michael Rafter saw his follow-up cleared off the line by Ciaran Nangle.

Play quickly switched to the other end and Peter Cherrie had to be alert to make a good stop from Chris Mulhall.

The hosts grabbed their first goal of the season in the 51st minute. Nathan Murphy was the provider, his wicked free-kick powered home by captain Shields.

The points looked safe when Dundalk doubled their tally four minutes later. The ball found its way to the back post and O'Neill got enough purchase to loop his header over McGinley.

UCD refused to lie down and they were back in the game when Rusk tucked a spot-kick away in the 68th minute but Dundalk held on for a much needed win.

Dundalk -- Cherrie, McLaughlin (Byrne 71), Foran, Burns, Murphy, Walsh, Shields, Mountney, McDonnell (Cunningham h-t), Rafter, O'Neill (Reilly 65).

UCD -- McGinley, Ledwith, Nangle, O'Connor, Kavanagh, Corry (Douglas 84), O'Conor, McCabe (Langtry 62), Benson (Morrison 62), Rusk, Mulhall.

Ref -- P Caschera (Dublin).

Irish Independent