Champions! UCD clinch First Division title after Conor Davis hits late equaliser

The Students lifted the silverware after a 1-1 draw against Finn Harps.

UCD celebrate winning.
UCD celebrate winning.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated at 00.53


Finn Harps 1

CONOR DAVIS WAS the hero once more for UCD as he struck the decisive goal to seal the First Division title for the Students.

Keith Cowan had given the visitors the lead 10 minutes from time and looked to have taken the title race down to the wire.

The former Reading man had other ideas however, calmly slotting the ball into the corner of the net on a night where both sides’ nerves seemed to get the best of them.

The stakes were simple for both teams heading into the game — Harps needed to beat UCD for the first time this season to push the league to the final day.

UCD, therefore, knew that a draw would be enough to see them through and that seemed to stifle their play somewhat during a nervy opening half.

Like Waterford in the Cup last week, Harps packed the middle of the field to stifle the Students’ quick-passing style, and their 3-5-2 allowed Ciaran Coll and John Kavanagh to attack out wide.

Conor Davis celebrates scoring the equalising goal with teammates Conor Davis hit the equaliser. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

UCD did have the better of the opening quarter, however, as they got around the traffic in midfield by going long to Neil Farrugia and Jason McClelland on the wings.

A quick throw-out from Conor Kearns set McClelland away early on and he found Farrugia in the box, but the Ireland colleges international couldn’t poke his shot on target.

Harps had the better opportunities in the first half and both John O’Flynn and Jesse Devers were left to rue poor finishing as they were both denied with close-range headers.

First Devers picked out O’Flynn with a deep cross and, having evaded Liam Scales, the former Cork City man headed straight at Kearns.

Even better was Devers’ chance at the back post after Sam Todd had flicked on Coll’s long throw but, again, with the whole goal to aim at he headed tamely at the keeper.

Gary O’Neill had a chance to put UCD in front just before the break as he found space on the edge of the box but, to his visible frustration, the captain slid his shot wide.

UCD celebrate winning the SSE Airtricity League first division Celebrations in full flow. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Harps gradually assumed control after the break as UCD sat deep but chances were few, Niall Logue slashing the ball over with the goal at his mercy the first clear chances.

That was until Cowan met Gareth Harkin’s corner to volley past Conor Kearns and set up a grandstand finish, but Davis nipped that in the bud moments later.

UCD: Kearns; Tobin, Scales, Collins, Osam (Doyle 54); Sloggett, O’Neill, Molloy (O’Connor 72); Farrugia, McClelland, Davis (Mahdy 90+2).

Finn Harps: Gallagher; Cowan, Todd, Logue (Sobowale 79); Kavanagh, Harkin, Borg, Coyle (McCourt 73), Coll; Devers, O’Flynn (Boyle 62).

Referee: David Keeler.

In another of tonight’s First Division clashes, Galway United and Wexford played out a 1-1 draw at Eamonn Deacy Park.

Dean George gave the visitors the lead on the brink of half-time before Carlton Ubaezuonu equalised just after the hour mark.

Galway had a golden opportunity to earn a victory in the dying minutes, as Conor Barry was brought down in the box.

However, Colin Kelly’s penalty was saved by Corey Chambers to ensure the points were shared.

Elsewhere, Drogheda beat Longford 2-1 as they took a big step towards securing the final play-off spot at the expense of their rivals at United Park.

An early Dean Dillon goal gave the visitors the lead before the Drogs hit back. A Gareth McCaffrey free kick drew them level, before the same player clinched a second-half winner courtesy of a clinical finish with just over 20 minutes remaining.

Finally, Cabinteely and Shelbourne drew 1-1 at Stradbrook Road. Shels took the lead early in the second half through a John Wilson deflected effort, before substitute Dean Casey equalised with 25 minutes remaining.

First Division results:

Cabinteely 1-1 Shelbourne

Drogheda 2-1 Longford

Galway 1-1 Wexford

UCD 1-1 Finn Harps

Additional reporting by The42 Team

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