ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC fell five points behind leaders Drogheda United after a frustrating draw against UCD at Richmond Park last night.
Alan Kirby's 67th minute equaliser gave the Saints the share of the spoils but ultimately this result hampers their title hopes.
Drogheda's defeat of Bray Wanderers earlier in the afternoon put the pressure on John McDonnell's side to gather the three points but the Students foiled their plans.
The Saints made one major change to their starting line-up by opting to rest leading scorer Mark Quigley and bring new signing Glen Fitzpatrick into their starting line-up.
St Pat's had the game's first opportunity but UCD keeper Darren Quigley wasn't seriously troubled by Anto Murphy's ninth minute effort after good work by Fitzpatrick.
UCD went in front after a lightening break in the 26th minute. Brian King brilliantly split the home defence and left-winger Derek Doyle got on the end of the pass to curl the ball past the exposed Barry Ryan with his right foot.
Alan McNally was twice denied a second goal for the visitors on the hour after the Saints failed to clear a corner. Each time home keeper Ryan made point-blank stops.
UCD paid for their failure to take that double-opportunity as Kirby went on to snatch an equaliser in the 67th minute.
Keith Fahey's pass was aimed for substitute Mark Quigley but his dummy allowed Kirby burst through and cut inside before sticking the ball home from 12 yards out.
The Students didn't fade away though and Ian Bermingham had a volley deflected by team-mate King in the 78th minute that forced a good reactionary save from Ryan.
Two minutes later Ryan had to get down well to save a Conor Sammon diving header from a left-wing free by Conan Byrne.
UCD keeper Quigley showed his class in the dying minutes when he made a couple of brilliant saves to deny Mark Quigley and Anto Murphy late winners for the home side.
© Irish Independent