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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Paul O'Hehir

Drogheda 1-1 UCD: Students out from bottom for first time in 21 weeks after priceless equaliser

Thomas Longergan's priceless equaliser lifted UCD off the bottom of the table after 21 long weeks wondering if and when it would ever happen.

In that time, College have lost key man Liam Kerrigan to Italian side Como, Eric Yoro to Bolton and star striker Collie Whelan to a season-ending cruciate injury.

So they were due a slice of good fortune. But this determined effort to chase down and eventually collar Finn Harps has been more than just good luck.

Lonergan’s goal gives them a real sense of purpose with which to attack the remaining three months of the season.

For now, UCD take on the role of promotion-relegation playoff hopefuls but there’s a long way to go in the survival race - and they have played a game more.

Andy Myler’s men have been rooted to the bottom since losing 4-2 to Drogheda on March 4.

But while they blew hot and cold here, they did enough in a late, first-half purple patch to capitalise and snatch the precious point.

“We knew we needed to come away with something and now we have to put as much pressure on Harps as we can,” said UCD boss Myler.

“It’s always in your head that you’re down the bottom, but all of a sudden we’re not and we just have to build on that.

“We’re not trying to add up points or anything, it’s about getting a consistency of performance and trusting that the wins will come.”

UCD don’t play again until they face relegation rivals Harps at the Bowl on August 12 and Myler said: “It’s massive and we just have to be ready for it.

“Harps have pulled it out of the fire on numerous occasions in the last few years and have that know-how.

“We’ve lost and drawn games this year because we didn’t have know-how but the learning curve is getting steeper and we’re hoping to take as much as we can from it.”

Drogheda were off to a flyer when Adam Foley put them ahead after three minutes.

He was lurking beyond the back post and had ample time to control Darragh Markey’s low ball from the opposite side of the box before beating Lorcan Healy.

UCD eventually got to grips with the game and benefitted from a tactical reshuffle midway through the first-half, with four at the back rather than three.

And Lonergan, 18, kept up his scoring run as he bagged his third in two games - and fourth of the season - with an injury-time equaliser before the break.

Drogheda were poor dealing with a free that dropped to Dara Keane and when his deflected shot looped up, it fell perfectly for Longergan who drove home from 12-yards.

Lonergan then headed off the post early in the second-half but Drogheda were kicking themselves that they didn’t nab a winner.

Sam Tood cleared a Dean Williams shot off the line while Lorcan Healy got fingertips to Rooney’s close range effort at the near post.

Drogs sub Ryan Brennan was a handful late on but his best chance - a header off a Markey free-kick - zipped just over the crossbar as UCD held tight.

DROGHEDA UNITED: McCabe 6; Poynton 6, Quinn 6, Cowan 6, Massey 6; Deegan 6, Nugent 6 (Grimes 72, 5) ; Foley 7 (Noone, 72, 5), Markey 7, Rooney 6 (Brennan 64, 6); Williams 6 (Lyons 64, 5).

UCD: Healy 6; Gallagher 6, Todd 6, Osam 6; Dunne 7, Keane 6, Caffrey 7, Higgins 6 (Brennan 74, 5), Ryan 6 (Dignam 74, 5); Lonergan 7, Duffy 6 (Nolan 89, 5).

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