With UCD being one of the pacesetters this season the visit by Rovers to Belfield Park was always going to be a huge occasion and this certainly proved to be the case.
The Hoops began impressively but fell behind as early as the 9th minute when Robert Manley broke down the right and cut in to slot past Mikey Quinn to make it 10 for the home side.
That was a particularly bitter pill for Rovers to swallow as they had begun the game brightly and won three corners as against nil for UCD in the period before the goal.
Two minutes after the Students went a goal up they had another gilt edged opportunity to score again but this time Quinn saved to deny Manley a second.
Having started so well the Hoops had to endure a brief spell where they were in danger. Daire O’Connor was about to tee up a shot in front of goal when Eoin Stokes came around him and made a brilliant interception to carry the ball out. O’Connor had another great chance but this time he was snuffed out by Gavin Kearney.
Following that the Hoops came back into the game and produced some good moments themselves. James Doona’s cross to Shane Hanney in the 27th minute was saved by Skinner. From Jamie Hamilton’s corner Kearney was gifted with a free header but didn’t get sufficient strength into it to get it past Skinner who saved from the centre half.
Rovers then won two more corners, the first which occurred from a Darragh Gibbons header. It was the Students though who were on top as the game approached half time.
They won four corners in close succession but good defending from Rovers kept the score at 1:0.
Just before the half time whistle Jamie Aherne took a free kick from a dangerous spot for UCD but the striker had to settle for a corner.
UCD began the second half well with Gibbons forced to intervene with a superb block at the expense of a corner. Soon after that left full Conor Gleeson produced a good piece of defending when he blocked Sean Byrne at close range for a corner.
The Hoops responded well though and one of the best moves they put together throughout the whole match came at this point when Hanney linked up with Doona to put Luke Rossiter through for a shot but again they had to settle for a corner.
The home side were put under great pressure from the corner from Jamie Hamilton but that spell ended when Rossiter shot over the bar.
The 62nd minute saw yet another brilliant chance for Rovers after Rossiter, from the line, picked out Doona who followed up with a through ball to Aherne; the striker took his shot but was brilliantly denied by a superb Skinner save.
A long kickout by Quinn ended with Hamilton hitting the ball narrowly wide. It was tough going and Quinn produced a top drawer save from Conor Crowley’s free kick.
The action swung back in favour of the Hoops and they might have equalised in the 75th minute after Stokes set Hanney up with a chance only to be denied yet again by Skinner.
Just when it seemed that Rovers missed out on their final piece of action there was to be one final minute when the Students caught them on the break.
As they rained down on the UCD box Dean Kivlehan called for the ball from Hanney who obliged but Kivlehan didn’t connect as he would have wished and sent the ball high over the bar.
The Hoops could illafford to lose this game; it’s one they deserved at least a draw from. It will be back to the drawing board no doubt for the next game which is against Limerick next Saturday at Tallaght Stadium.