Glory for O’Neill and Magilton as Shamrock Rovers take title
UCD 1 Shamrock Rovers 2
Michael O’Neill — and consultant, former Northern Ireland colleague Jim Magilton — guided Shamrock Rovers to a 2-1 win at UCD, a result which secured a second successive league title.
Rovers went to UCD last night needing a win to be sure of the title, and ended up toasting the unlikeliest of last gasp heroes.
With the four minutes of injury time almost elapsed, it looked as though O’Neill and Magilton would have to wait until Friday, when they host Galway, 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 an exciting European adventure.
He made his comeback with 10 minutes remaining in Dublin 4, and announced it at the death by steering a deflected effort from Stephen O'Donnell into the back of the net.
Brave UCD were heartbroken. The Rovers masses poured onto the pitch for the kind of frenzied celebration that is becoming habit.
It was a release of frustration at the end of a difficult evening.
UCD boss Martin Russell, the ex Portadown midfielder, and his students were in no mood to roll over and facilitate celebrations.
After being trounced by the Hoops in their previous three league meetings, there was a determination to restore pride. They did so with calm application.
Rovers’ Craig Sives was dismissed for mistimed challenges either side of the interval.
In the 68th minute sub Ken Oman headed home a Gary McCabe corner.
The joy lasted for two minutes, Robbie Benson levelling for the home side.
UCD’s Darren Meenan was dismissed for a second yellow card.
Kelly was introduced for Rohan Ricketts and deep into injury time popped up to ensure his own place in history.