Super sub Kelly seals the deal with late clincher
Shamrock Rvs 2
THEY never do things the easy way. Shamrock Rovers came to UCD to have a party and ended up toasting the unlikeliest of last-gasp heroes.
With the four minutes of injury- time almost elapsed, it looked as though the Hoops would have to wait until Friday to secure the crown. Then, with a conclusion in keeping with a rollercoaster campaign, substitute Dean Kelly emerged for his moment of glory.
Kelly has spent the last few months as a spectator, with injury denying him any part in the exciting end of the European adventure. He made his comeback with 10 minutes remaining, and announced it at the death by steering a deflected effort from Belgrade hero Stephen O'Donnell into the net. It was the title-winner's first goal of the season.
Brave UCD focused on containment for large periods. But Martin Russell also has some tidy performers in his side, with central midfielder Paul O'Conor standing out before the break -- he twice threatened from distance.
At the other end, the defending champions struggled to create. Centre-half Craig Sives ventured forward to shoot over in a crowded area, an effort as inaccurate as his mistimed challenges either side of the interval which brought a premature end to his evening.
The Scot is an accomplished performer but, for a player on a yellow, his second challenge on Robbie Benson was extremely rash and left Neil Doyle with little option.
Michael O'Neill took Ciaran Kilduff off and brought on Ken Oman to shore up his back four. However, the overall response to the setback was positive, with the 10 men doing a better job of pressurising. In the 68th minute it bore fruit, with Oman rising highest to head home a Gary McCabe corner.
The joy lasted for two minutes. UCD probed to win a set-piece of their own and Benson slipped into the danger zone to cleverly flick past Richard Brush.
Rovers attacked again, with Karl Sheppard denied by a top-drawer save from stand-in UCD 'keeper Mark McGinley. Then their efforts were given traction by the restoring of numerical parity, with a second yellow dished out to Darren Meenan when he brought Conor McCormack to the ground.
Kelly was introduced for Rohan Ricketts, with the blue shirts putting their bodies on the line in a frantic conclusion.
Just as they seemed set to collect a famous point, Kelly popped up to ensure his own place in history.
UCD -- McGinley; Douglas (Clarke 85), O'Connor, Leahy, Nangle; Marshall (Russell 64), Corry, O'Conor, Meenan; Rusk, Benson (Boyle 85).
Shamrock Rovers -- Brush; Sullivan, Sives, Murray, Stevens; Ricketts (Kelly 81), Finn (O'Donnell 64), McCormack, McCabe; Sheppard, Kilduff (Oman 49).
Ref -- N Doyle (Dublin).