Shamrock Rovers set a new record for the most games unbeaten this week while they also took the outright lead of the Premier Division. Meanwhile First Division leaders Athlone Town suffered their first defeat of the season.
Buckle up for a long read the May Bank Holiday Weekend saw two sets of fixtures take place in the Premier Division.
St. Patrick’s Athletic 3-0 Longford Town
Chris Forrester stole the show with a brace of delightful goals, as league leaders St Patrick’s Athletic maintained their unbeaten start to the season.
After a lacklustre opening 45 minutes at Richmond Park, Saints came alive after the interval to all but seal their sixth win of the campaign with two goals inside seven minutes of the restart.
A fifth defeat in six games, and without a goal from play during that run, leaves bottom side Longford facing a long season ahead.
It was the visitors who edged the early possession in Inchicore’s bright sunshine.
St Pat’s slowly got their passing game in tune, though, with teenager Darragh Burns curling a left foot effort off target after a promising, surging break by Alfie Lewis from deep.
Hardworking Longford responded immediately with Aaron Dobbs working Vitezlav Jaros from a 12th minute shot from the edge of the area after Karl Chambers set him up.
And their pressing game brought Longford another opening just past the half hour.
Lee Desmond was caught in possession by Dobbs who blew the opportunity, undoing his good work by running on to shoot tamely wide with options around him.
As half-time approached, an incisive passing move involving Burns, Shane Griffin and Billy King presented Saints’ Forrester with a shooting chance. There was precious little venom in the drive to trouble Michael Kelly between the Longford posts, as if to sum up a pretty uninspiring first half.
O’Donnell introduced both Mountney and Coughlan for the restart and it brought an immediate reaction as St Pat’s were ahead inside two minutes.
Town defender Joe Gorman completely missed Burns’ arcing delivery from the left, leaving Coughlan with a simple toe poke to the net at the back post.
Karl Chambers headed over from an Aaron Bolger cross a minute or so later as Longford looked for a sharp response.
Instead, cue the genius of Forrester on 52 minutes to double St Pat’s lead.
Longford completely stood off the Saints’ skipper as he collected Coughlan’s ball in from the left.
And Forrester didn’t need a second invitation with the time and space afforded him to look up, get the ball onto his right foot and curl it to the top corner from over 20 yards.
Further sloppiness at the back from Longford two minutes into added time was clinically punished by Forrester who won the ball to dribble past two defenders to finish from close range off his left foot.
Drogheda United 1-1 Sligo Rovers
Sligo Rovers slipped further behind leaders St Patrick’s Athletic at the top of the Premier Division table after they were held to a draw by Drogheda United at Head In The Game Park.
United took an early lead after Chris Lyons capitalised on Ed McGinty’s error in the Sligo goal. Another goalkeeping mistake allowed teenager Johnny Kenny to level before the break.
Tim Clancy’s side have now won just one of their last seven league outings but after narrow defeats to Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk, the manager will be pleased to take points from Liam Buckley’s side who started the day amongst the pacesetters at the top of the division.
The opening goal came against the run of play, but with Sligo looking blunt in the final third, Drogheda punished an McGinty error. The goalkeeper left his goal to collect Ronan Murray’s free but was left flapping at the light Boyneside breeze.
Daniel O’Reilly headed the ball to an unmarked Chris Lyons in the six-yard box. His header evaded two defenders on the line.
The visitors’ only two chances of any note in the first 30 minutes of the contest were speculative long-range efforts that were hit straight by Drogheda goalkeeper Colin McCabe. Johnny Kenny and Jordan Gibson were the players who had to produce better.
An equaliser, fully deserved as it was, arrived before the break. United, perhaps expecting referee Rob Harvey to blow for a foul on Lyons, allowed Figueira to surge forward and shoot from 25 yards. His low effort was on target but saved by McCabe.
He couldn’t hold onto the ball however and as it squirmed from his grasp, Johnny Kenny closed in and rounded the goalkeeper before tapping in.
The introduction of midfielder Luke Heeney helped Drogheda in their bid to see more of the ball and they greatly improved as the second half progressed.
Sligo were unable to fashion many more chances. Jordan Gibson stung the palms of McCabe but it was comfortable enough. The most presentable opportunities fell to Drogheda’s 19-year-old Killian Phillips.
James Brown’s pull back from the byline evaded everyone in the area but with time and space at the back post, Phillips’ finish lacked composure and cleared the crossbar. He was again well positioned late on but his well-struck shot was the wrong side of the post and then the busy youngster had a shot blocked by John Mahon.
Greg Bolger’s late free kick was on target but held by McCabe.
Bohemians 1-2 Derry City
Cameron McJannet’s double saw Derry City continue their good start to life under new manager Ruaidhri Higgins as they saw off Bohemians 2-1 at Dalymount Park.
Georgie Kelly had given the home side an early lead from the penalty spot, but defender McJannett netted twice in the second half to earn the Candystripes the three points.
The victory lifts City above Bohs in the table and condemns Keith Long’s side to three consecutive defeats as they still await that elusive home win.
The opening goal came from the penalty spot after Ross Tierney was clumsily taken down by Ciaron Harkin, Derry having been hesitant in clearing Keith Ward’s delivery.
Kelly stepped up from 12 yards and dispatched the spot-kick, his third goal since making the move from Dundalk in the off-season.
Ali Coote, Keith Buckley and Ward dictated proceedings but were unable to create any clear-cut opportunities.
James Akintunde almost brought Derry level against the run of play. Will Patching’s free kick found the winger unmarked but he hit the bar from ten yards with a header.
Bohs might have made it 2-0 when Andy Lyons was played in behind by Ward but Nathan Gartside saved easily.
Gartside pulled off an incredible save to claw away Tierney’s effort from inside the box after he met Lyons’ pullback.
James Talbot pulled off a big save just after the hour to prevent Marc Walsh from making an instant impact off the bench, saving with his feet to divert for a corner.
McJannet headed home the Derry equaliser after Patching delivered a corner on the money. Talbot failed to keep it out and might feel he should have done better.
Ruaidhrí Higgins’ charges took control of the game and threatened a second goal. Daniel Lafferty nearly turned the game on its head but his header from close range was too close to Talbot.
Bohs pushed for a winner late on as Ciaran Kelly and substitute Dawson Devoy spurned opportunities.
McJannet was the hero again for the Candystripes as he found himself unmarked in the box to cushion home Patching’s long free kick to steal the game with a minute of normal time remaining.
Waterford FC 0-3 Dundalk
The old guard came to the fore to help Dundalk to back to back league wins for the first time since February 2020 against Waterford at the RSC.
Andy Boyle opened the scoring with a 24th minute header before captain Chris Shields doubled his side’s advantage from the penalty spot two minutes before the break.
Michael Duffy then wrapped up the victory for Jim Magilton’s side just 28 seconds into the second half but the end result only told part of the story of the game.
Kevin Sheedy’s side gave a good account of themselves and were denied by the woodwork on no fewer than three occasions throughout.
It was also a costly night for the Lilywhites who finished the game with 10 men after picking up injuries to David McMillan and Cameron Dummigan but they will take the positives from a display which produced their first back to back league wins since beating Shelbourne and Cork City back at the start of last season when Vinny Perth was in charge.
The visitors started on the front foot and could have taken the lead inside the opening two minutes when Daniel Cleary’s ball up the right played McMillan in behind Cameron Evans only for the striker to pull his shot to the left and wide.
Waterford did manage their first shot on goal on 11 minutes but John Martin’s snapshot from long range was straight at Peter Cherrie.
Patrick McEleney then had an effort from range go wide at the other end before the Louth men found the breakthrough on 24 minutes.
After James Waite was somewhat harshly adjudged to have fouled Shields, the resultant free kick by Duffy was met powerfully at the back post by Boyle who headed across Paul Martin to the bottom right hand corner.
Dundalk were then dealt a blow when McMillan, who had scored two in two coming into the game, limped off and this unsettled them briefly with Waterford unlucky not to pull a goal back on 34 minutes when Waite’s cross picked out John Martin, who couldn’t direct his header at the back post on target.
Adam O’Reilly then somehow failed to score after being slipped in by Martin a minute later.
Those misses were to prove crucial as the visitors upped their game before the break. Firstly Duffy had a volley from Dummigan’s cross that was straight at Paul Martin but the game was as good as over when they were awarded a penalty two minutes before the break.
Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, who had replaced McMillan, was adjudged to have been pushed over inside the box by Prince Mutswunguma and captain Chris Shields stepped up to slot home from the spot for his first league goal since scoring the winner away to Cork City in September 2018.
The game was then firmly over as a contest within 28 seconds of the restart when Duffy collected a pass from Ole Erik Midtskogen before curling a superb right foot shot to the top right hand corner.
Finn Harps 0-2 Shamrock Rovers
Shamrock Rovers equaled the all-time League of Ireland unbeaten run when they hit the 30-mark with a somewhat controversial victory at luckless Finn Harps.
Sixteen minutes from time, there was a break in play and before things resumed, Harps manager Ollie Horgan queried as to why referee Rob Hennessy why play was restarting with a Rovers free, having signalled the opposite beforehand.
And, typically, from the delivery from Dylan Watts from in front of the dugouts, Mark Anthony McGinley in the Harps goal spilled and Rory Gaffney prodded into the empty net.
It was a tough pill to swallow for Harps, who then saw Horgan sent off for protestations for another Rovers free. And sure enough, another deep free from Watts again was headed home by Sean Hoare in the 81st minute.
Rovers were the last team to go 30 unbeaten in the 1920s.
With the champions in town, Horgan’s team were back to their competitive selves, giving as much as they got in a first half where neither side got a shot on target – but it was not as consequence of a lack of effort.
Rovers arrived with four wins on the bounce expected to add to that run against their hosts, who had picked up just the one point from the last nine available.
While Harps were rigid and disciplined in their shape, it matched their guests who were more fluid with players rotating. The home side almost produced the breakthrough in the 71st minute when Karl O’Sullivan fizzed the ball across the brows of Alan Mannus’s goal.
The breakthrough would come at the other end.
Drogheda United 1-1 Bohemians
James Clarke’s 93rd minute equaliser won a point for Drogheda United as Bohemians were denied at the death by Drogheda United at Head In The Game Park.
Liam Burt’s second goal of the season looked to have handed Bohemians a third win of the season but Clarke’s intervention, turning in after Bohs failed to clear Brandon Bermingham’s corner saw the spoils shared.
Bohs, had they held on, would have been full value for their win against a United side who now haven’t won in five outings but will be boosted by the late leveller, which was hardly deserved in truth.
Drogheda keeper David Odumosu was forced into action early on when Anto Breslin tested his reflexes with a low drive. The goalkeeper was up to the task and made the save. Devon Devoy had sent a rising shot over the bar inside the opening 60 seconds.
Drogheda had little to show for their first half endeavours. Chris Lyons shot low at goal from the edge of the area but it rolled harmlessly wide. It was no more than a half chance.
The returning James Finnerty headed wide from a corner and the Bohs bench called for a penalty when Odumosu collided with Ross Tierney in the area. Referee John McLaughlin was unmoved.
The sides exchanged opportunities at the beginning of the second period. After excellent work by teenager Killian Phillips, starting in midfield after being pressed into a three-man defence against Derry, shrugged off two challenges in midfield. After his run was stopped, Luke Heeney’s shot was goalbound but blocked by Finnerty.
At the other end, Daniel O’Reilly did likewise to deny Kelly.
The opening goal – the game’s only true moment of quality, executed to perfection – arrived on the hour mark. The impressive Devoy played a quick ball over the top of the Drogheda defence. Burt read it perfectly and with Odumosu advancing off his line, he produced a deft finish into the far corner.
Clarke’s equaliser, just the 20-year-old’s second senior goal, came as the corner hit Devoy and bounced kindly into the path of Clarke, who headed in off the post.
The draw means United have now won just one of their last eight encounters with the side from Phibsborough. Boss Tim Clancy has decried his team’s misfortunate of late, saying recent results were not reflective of on-field performances.
They offered little going forward in 90 minutes on home soil and a late point is more than they deserved.
Sligo Rovers 1-1 St. Patrick’s Athletic
Ian Bermingham struck in the fifth minute of added time as St Patrick’s Athletic maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a late, late draw against Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.
The Saints skipper headed home Darragh Burns’ corner in reply to Jordan Gibson’s opener from the penalty spot, to keep Pat’s within two points of leaders Shamrock Rovers.
The hosts hadn’t beaten their opponents since June 2018 and were fortunate not to be trailing early on.
Sligo’s Greg Bolger flashed an effort across goal after great work from ex-Pat’s winger Gibson in the opening moments.
Minutes later, Bermingham passed up an excellent opportunity when unmarked, he could only head straight at Rovers goalkeeper Ed McGinty.
The Dubliners went close again less than 60 seconds later.
The in-form Chris Forrester spinning his magic as he played a well weighted ball into the path of Coughlan was first denied by a sprawling McGinty, before a combination of the young Scot and Sligo defender John Mahon crowded Coughlan out. The Limerick native denied a second bite at the cherry thanks in part, to Mahon’s strength.
Top scorer in his previous season with Sligo in 2019, Romeo Parkes lacked the killer touch required to trap Greg Bolger’s through ball. Knowing a sharper reaction would have resulted in a one-on-one with Vitezslav Jaros, the Jamaican could only look on in agony as the Saints defence recovered in time to bring the ball away.
The Inchicore side were inches away from the lead on the half hour. But it was Paddy Barrett’s turn to grimace as his header from a Forrester free bounced on to the top of the Sligo crossbar.
There was another late Sligo chance late in the half, but Gibson fired over from the angle when the hovering Parkes looked a better option in front of the target.
Gibson however, was spot-on from 12 yards four minutes into the second half. The once Glasgow Rangers youth converting the penalty he himself won, after he was barged to the ground inside the area by an over-physical Barrett.
Rovers went close to effectively sealing the win eight minutes from time.
Walter Figueira slipping the ball into the path of substitute Johnny Kenny who wrapped the ball around Jaros, but also past the far post as his placed effort dragged narrowly wide.
Referee Neil Doyle added four minutes on at the end of this encounter, but allowed Pat’s an extra 60 seconds from which they grabbed their dramatic leveller.
Shamrock Rovers 3-0 Waterford FC
Shamrock Rovers broke the all-time League of Ireland record of 30 games unbeaten by cruising past struggling Waterford, though it was a frustrating day for the returning Neil Farrugia in the 3-0 win at Tallaght Stadium.
Goals from Rory Gaffney, Gary O’Neill and Danny Mandroiu eased the champions to victory and back to the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table, Stephen Bradley’s men dropping just four points in the first round of matches.
A strong wind was at Rovers’ backs in the opening half and it was critical for the Blues that they weathered the inevitable early weight of attacks. They just about did, or at least until 13 minutes in.
Before the opener, Dylan Watts’ corner was met firmly by Lee Grace but his header, which seemed certain to go in, was cleared off the line by Darragh Power; Watts got the ball back and put in another superb delivery but somehow Paul Martin prevented a certain goal with his feet, Gaffney failing to convert from point-blank range. But Gaffney made no mistake on 13 minutes.
The Tuam man reacted quickly to drive home from Mandroiu’s pass from a hop-ball necessitated by it having hit referee Adriano Reale during a Rovers attack.
Greene set up Gaffney for what would surely have been a second midway through the half but Cameron Evans denied him with a despairing intervention.
The inevitable became a reality on 33 minutes. Greene was hacked down by Tunmise Sobowale, with Greene unable to continue, but before he departed O’Neill put the ball into the net from the free-kick after a Watts shot-come-cross.
To be fair to Waterford, they enjoyed a more encouraging spell as the first half neared its conclusion, without troubling Alan Mannus.
Waterford had half a shout for a penalty before Max Murphy coolly fed Mandroiu on 54 minutes and he coolly slotted into the corner, despite a parry from Martin. Gaffney nearly made it 4-0 on 63 minutes, a gorgeous one-two with Burke ending in a good Martin save.
Rovers have an abundance of talent on the left flank and fans will have been encouraged with the return from injury of Neil Farrugia with a quarter of a game to go long decided in terms of who would prevail.
On this evidence, Farrugia will be a major addition, but it seemed that he aggravated a long-term hamstring problem and he looked disconsolate as he walked off the park long before the final whistle – one worrying aspect for Bradley on the day.
Longford Town 2-2 Dundalk
Captain Chris Shields proved Peter Cherrie’s saviour with a late equaliser to salvage a point for Dundalk in a roller-coaster game at Bishopsgate.
Their first goals from play in seven games was enough to lift Longford Town off the foot of the Premier Division table on goal difference after they availed of two goalkeeping howlers from Cherrie to run up a 2-0 advantage inside 14 minutes.
Sean Murray was way off target for Dundalk early on before the home side stunned their visitors by taking a sixth-minute lead.
Dylan Grimes worked a one-two with Dean Byrne just inside the Dundalk half to run on and hit a low shot which bounced twice in front of Cherrie whose feeble dive then completely missed the ball to see it end up in the bottom corner of his net.
Having waited over nine hours to score from play, a second goal duly arrived within eight minutes for Daire Doyle’s midlanders, as they once again availed of a glaring goalkeeping mistake.
Karl Chambers’ in-swinging cross from the left was inexplicably spilled by Cherrie. Striker Rob Manley pounced on the loose ball to shoot it to the net for his first goal of the season.
Though rattled, Dundalk passed the ball well and got a response on 20 minutes from their first corner of the game.
Michael Duffy whipped the delivery over to the far post where Dan Cleary nodded it down for Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe to tap in from close range.
Dominating the ball, Dundalk were close to levelling on 34 minutes; Sean Murray just failing to connect with a low cross from Raivis Jurkovskis.
But Longford continued to cause the Lilywhites issues when they got forward, Byrne skipping across their area to rifle a drive narrowly wide.
A minute later, the equally lively Grimes curled a free kick into the side netting.
In end to end action, another Dundalk corner should have seen them level a minute before the break.
Again Cleary got his head to Duffy’s ball into the area. This time, fellow defender Andy Boyle just couldn’t apply the finish at the back post.
A mistake by Boyle, who allowed Michael Kelly’s long kick out bounce past him, then let Manley in on goal two minutes after the restart.
Cherrie redeemed himself somewhat with a fine save one-on-one.
Despite once again enjoying plenty of the ball thereafter, Dundalk struggled to create clear-cut chances.
Minutes after coming on, substitute Wilfried Zahibo had the goal at his mercy only to fail to connect with Duffy’s free kick from the right.
But Jim Magilton’s side kept pressing and were rewarded nine minutes from time.
Junior slipped a pass through for the run of Shields who showed ample composure to find the bottom corner with a right foot drive.
Derry City 1-2 Finn Harps
Finn Harps secured their first ever league success over Derry City at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
Adam Foley’s late strike, meant that Ollie Horgan’s men secured their first win in five games and over the 90 minutes just about shaded the victory.
The result pushes the Donegal club four points clear of fifth place in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table, with 14 points from nine games.
Harps had a good chance on three minutes as Karl O’Sullivan’s run and cross from the right found Barry McNamee at the near post, but the ex-Brandywell man side-footed wide from close range.
On 14 minutes Harps had an even better chance as Tunde Owoiabi latched onto Mark Coyle’s pass, but his well hit drive was saved by an out-rushing Nathan Gartside.
That missed chance came back to haunt Harps as Derry broke the deadlock three minutes later as Will Patching sent James Akintunde clear down the left. He cut inside past both David Webster and Kosovar Sadiki before firing home into the bottom right hand corner.
Right on the stroke of half-time the woodwork denied Harps an equaliser as Will Seymore’s long range strike, which had Gartside beaten, rattled the crossbar.
Harps goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley was called into action when he did well to push Patching’s deep free-kick over the bar. The visitors deservedly levelled things on 55 minutes as David Webster’s initial header was superbly kept out by Gartside, but Karl O’Sullivan was on hand to fire home the rebound, despite Cameron McJannet’s best attempts at trying to clear the ball off the line.
Derry hit the woodwork themselves on 85 minutes as Will Fitzgerald’s clever pass found Jack Malone, but the substitute’s side-footed strike from 12 yards came back off the post and Akintunde, with the goal at his mercy fired over.
Harps scored what turned out to be the winner on 89 minutes as Barry McNamee showed great skill and composure to find Foley, who calmly made no mistake firing home past Gartside.
Right at the death Derry hit the woodwork for second time as Eoin Toal’s close range header, which had McGinley beaten, came back off the post.
This weekend’s fixtures:
Friday May 7th
- Derry City v Longford Town
- Dundalk v Sligo Rovers
Saturday May 8th
- Waterford FC v Drogheda United
- Bohemians v Finn Harps
- St. Patrick’s Athletic v Shamrock Rovers
Bray Wanderers 0-0 Cork City
Bray Wanderers winless start to their First Division campaign continued on Friday evening as they were held to a scoreless draw by a resolute Cork City at the Carlisle Grounds.
In a game that had few chances in the second half, it was Bray who nearly stole a late winner, but Gary Shaw’s dinked effort was cleared off the line by Ronan Hurley in the 93rd minute.
The result leaves both teams outside the playoff positions, as Colin Healy’s new-look Cork City brought an end to their four-game losing run – but stay winless in five, a game less than Bray’s six.
The Seagulls and the Leesiders have endured dismal starts to the season, with both teams just picking up seven points between themselves.
City’s opening day win over Cobh Ramblers was their only points won of the season so far, while the Seagulls’ four draws have been their only points on the board prior to kick-off.
It was a quick start to the game however, with both teams going close inside the first five minutes.
Brandon Kavanagh went close for the hosts, but he flashed his shot just wide after his corner-kick broke down on the edge of the penalty area.
But the best chance came for the visitors, as Jack Walsh missed a gilt-edged opportunity after he pounced on a moment of hesitation from the hosts defence.
Cian Bargary held up the ball well to lay off to Walsh, but he could make little of his early chance.
Bray were jolted into life after that near catastrophe, as Kavanagh saw his deflected free-kick crash off the post.
In the resulting scramble, Richie O’Farrell went close with a low shot that Mark McNulty easily saved.
Kavanagh grew into the game even more – and ought to have grabbed an assist – but Joe Doyle’s limp effort was saved by McNulty.
Bray continued to enjoy many of the chances, with Aaron Barry the next to go close as he headed Kavanagh’s free-kick wide at the back-post.
The Shamrock Rovers loanee continued to dominate proceedings, and he linked up well with O’Farrell before unleashing a shot on goal that was parried clear by McNulty as the sides went in level at the break.
While the opening half entertained, the second-half did anything but that. The first notable chance came in the 72nd minute as Walsh headed over Cian Bargary’s cross.
The Seagulls pressed for a late winner, as Gary Shaw first headed wide with a glancing effort from a Byrne cross.
But Shaw’s best chance was to come in the 93rd minute of the game – as he lifted the ball over the dive of Mark McNulty, but Ronan Hurley was on hand to clear the ball away.
The result leaves both teams without a win – as Bray still wait for their first victory of the season, while City arrested a wretched four game losing streak.
Wexford FC 0-6 UCD
A truly bizarre chain of events saw two of Wexford FC’s goalkeepers sent-off in an SSE Airtricity First Division encounter that ended in a thumping 6-0 defeat at the hands of UCD.
Everything that happened afterwards hinged on the controversial incident that arose as the stopwatch moved towards the 30-second mark at the off.
Netminder Jimmy Corcoran advanced to collect a high, hopeful punt from one of the students’ defenders, grabbing it on the edge of his box.
Immediately, the linesman on the far side of the field – Brian Fenlon – flagged to indicate the Meath youngster’s hands were outside the white line at the time.
What happened next that provoked uproar among the home players and officials.
Referee Declan Toland arrived on the scene and brandished a straight red card to Corcoran, leaving the slim pre-match chances of Wexford producing an upset in complete tatters.
I can only assume that the referee formed the view that the goalkeeper prevented a clear scoring opportunity.
One had to feel for young Seán Martin, thrown in at the deep end to make his League of Ireland senior debut between the posts.
And he didn’t make the ideal start, as the UCD free-kick that followed from Colm Whelan rebounded off the new netminder and into the path of Adam Lennon for a simple finish from close range.
A decent stop foiled Colm Whelan, but this time the break fell kindly for Lennon who tumbled over the sprawling netminder and earned a penalty.
The yellow card that followed would prove costly, while Whelan’s clinical spot-kick – struck high and off the crossbar en route to the net – removed all doubt with regards to the outcome after a mere 35 minutes.
The margin rose to 4-0 by half-time, and young Martin’s eventful debut came to an end in the 54th minute.
Jack Doherty got him into all sorts of bother with a woeful back pass that was easily intercepted by Whelan, who was taken down by the ‘keeper as he made tracks to go around him.
Right-sided midfielder Karl Fitzsimons changed his jersey colour from black to green and donned the gloves, but Whelan dispatched the penalty low to his left and into the corner.
The lively UCD striker completed his hat-trick and made it 6-0 with a strike from outside the box in the 68th minute.
Athlone Town 1-2 Cabinteely FC
For the second year in a row a Cabinteely number 12 named Barnes scored to help Cabo take three points in Athlone.
It was Niall Barnes’ turn as the previous shirt wearer Shane found himself on the losing side of a highly entertaining game in the Midlands.
Both teams entered the match in contrasting form with Athlone unbeaten in their first five sitting atop the First Division while an injury hit Cabo squad were looking for a return of the form that saw them win their opening two matches.
Athlone started brightly with Dan Blackbyrne putting in a captain’s performance at centre back and clearing all around him.
Wide players looked a threat with Adam Wixted and James Doona cutting in from the right and left respectively but they were unable to threaten goalkeeper Adam Hayden in the opening exchanges.
The Town’s best chance of the half came on 22 minutes when Kurtis Byrne was in space in the middle of the Cabo box after a quick free kick found Adam Wixted on the right flank. Hayden however reacted quickly to tip the strikers right footed effort over the bar.
Despite Athlone being on top Cabo did look a threat on the break with Marty Waters twisting and turning to cause great discomfort in the Athlone defense. Micheal Schlingermann’s quick reactions on the half hour mark saw him save at close range when Waters found himself through on goal.
Athlone did still offer plenty of threat with Byrne often taking up good positions in the box but just as often not making solid contact with his shots.
Cabo’s efforts on the break paid dividends on the stroke of half time as Ben Hanrahan’s ball from the right was cleared by Cantwell at the front post only to find Niall Barnes who had time to take a touch and finish with confidence on the half volley to register his first goal for the club and give Cabo perhaps an unexpected half time lead.
The second half followed the pattern of the first with Athlone applying pressure on the Cabo goal once more with Byrne often finding himself in good positions yet unable to make the most of his opportunities.
Cabo did show their own promise on 53 minutes when Marty Waters slipped in an on rushing Ben Hanrahan, Schlingermann was once again alert to the danger, coming quickly off his line to save Hanrahan’s attempt.
Athlone’s best chance to equalise came soon after on 55 minutes when James Doona’s corner was flicked on by Byrne at the near post before sailing untouched through the six yard box to find Cantwell open at the back post. The centre back failed to make good contact and sent the ball over the bar much to Hayden’s relief.
Athlone continued to apply the pressure with Hayden called on to make two saves in quick succession. Firstly he denied Byrne with his feet from close range after a Wixted back heel played the striker through on 67 minutes. Hayden was in action a minute later with James Doona forcing a low save after good build up play.
Athlone would rue these missed opportunites as Hayden’s distribution was again accurate to find Niall Barnes on the left wing. Barnes passed to Labutis who played a short ball to Ben Hanrahan close to thirty yards out with his back to goal. Hanrahan used his first touch to create space and turn and with his second unleashed a thunderbolt into the top right corner. A goal perhaps against the run of play but of such quality that few could begrudge it.
Athlone efforts were rewarded as the Midlanders pulled a goal back ten minutes later when Derek Daly’s long ball caused confusion at the heart of the Cabinteely defense. With Adam Wixted applying pressure Dean Casey was unlucky to see the ball rebound off him and into his own net.
The next ten minutes made for nevry watching for the Cabo faithful as Athlone continued to look for an equaliser. Cabo used all their experience to keep the ball away from Athlone and secure a very welcome three points for the side.
Shelbourne FC 2-2 Treaty United
Treaty United’s unbeaten start to their inaugural season in the First Division continued following a dramatic 2-2 draw with Shelbourne at Tolka Park.
Kieran Hanlon’s opener separated the sides for most of the game before three goals were scored in a hectic injury time.
Ryan Brennan and Yousef Mahdy were on the mark for Shelbourne before Clyde O’Connell rescued a point for the visitors at the death.
Despite bearing the underdogs tag, Treaty showed plenty of confidence in the opening half and they almost took the lead in the tenth minute when Matt Keane hit the post from just outside the box.
Mid-way through the half a Treaty onslaught resulted in a long-range free kick, where Marc Ludden’s delivery found Jack Lynch, but the Treaty captain headed wide.
Tommy Barrett’s men maintained the kind of defensive solidity they’ve demonstrated in recent matches and Shelbourne found it incredibly hard to break them down early on.
Treaty had conceded the fewest goals by any side in the division before tonight and it took the Reds over half an hour to register a meaningful shot on target as Glen McAuley’s effort was easily dealt with by Tadhg Ryan.
Moments later, the visitors found themselves in front when the Shelbourne defence failed to clear Ludden’s free-kick and the ball fell to Kieran Hanlon who scored the opener giving Treaty a 1-0 lead at the interval.
The Reds showed more attacking endeavour after the resumption as Glen McAuley and Shane Farrell tried their luck and both efforts were unsuccessful.
Ian Morris’ men almost restored parity in the 67th minute but were denied by Tadhg Ryan.
Ryan first denied Michael O’Connor by saving his close-range header before stopping another effort seconds later.
The hosts were fully convinced the ball crossed the line, but referee Oliver Moran didn’t agree.
Shelbourne now had the visitors under incessant pressure and JJ Lunney and Yousef Mahdy both had chances to pull one back as the Reds came up short on both occasions.
Ian Morris rang the changes, bringing on John Ross Wilson and Ryan Brennan and the pair almost combined for the equaliser with three minutes left only for Brennan’s shot to be stopped.
Shelbourne were alleging a handball, but the referee didn’t agree and when Brian McManus subsequently missed a golden opportunity, a Treaty victory seemed highly conceivable, but that was before a frantic finish that saw Anthony O’Donnell pick up a second yellow card leading to his dismissal.
Brennan atoned for his earlier missed chance when he latched onto a free kick to steer home Shelbourne’s first goal in the first minute of injury time.
Five minutes later, the Reds’ appeared to have snatched a late victory when substitute Mahdy gave his side a one-goal buffer but there was time for even more drama.
Treaty were awarded a corner in the 97th minute as Ludden’s superb delivery found Clyde O’Connell who levelled the game in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Cobh Ramblers 0-4 Galway United
A 4-0 victory over Cobh Ramblers in St Colman’s Park gave Galway United their first win on the pitch of 2021 on Saturday night.
Three penalties, two from Ruairi Keating and one from Padraic Cunningham, combined with an own goal from John Kavanagh saw the Tribesmen comfortably take the three points which move them up to sixth in the table.
The result is reflective of Galway’s performance, as John Caulfield’s men were dominant from the whistle.
Five minutes in, David Hurley found Mikey Place with an inch perfect pass inside the area. The striker hit the ball from the tightest of angles, trying to catch Sean Barron out at his near post.
But the shot stopper dived low on impulse to claw the ball to safety and keep the game scoreless.
Minutes later, Shane Duggan chipped the ball across the area to an unmarked Place. An acrobatic attempt to hit the ball first time skidded wide of the goal and Lee Devitt reclaimed possession for the Rams.
The breakthrough for Galway came when Charlie Lyons was judged to have handled the ball inside the area. The Ramblers defender saw red and referee Gavin Colfer gave the Tribesman their first penalty of the evening. Barron guessed the direction of Keating’s spot kick, but it was in vain as the visitors took the lead.
The Tribesmen wreaked havoc with the man advantage but were repeatedly denied by heroic defending from the Ramblers.
Cobh resorted to long range efforts in their attempts to equalise. The flurry of chances is best highlighted by efforts from Darryl Walsh and David O’Leary, which drifted narrowly wide of the target.
Stuart Ashton stood up to the challenge of seeing his team play with ten men and rallied his troops. The restart saw Cobh charge forward, with Ian Turner and Killian Cooper plaguing the Galway back three.
They pressed the trio well but were denied any clear opportunities to score due to the strength and positioning of Conor McCormack.
The forceful attack led to gaps at the back and Keating broke free. He tore down the right flank, well away from the Cobh defense, Barron emerged, spread himself, and saved.
Midway through the second half, Galway got their second penalty and Keating buried this into the top right of the net.
A charging Barron was nearly caught out when the ball trickled free to David Hurley, who tried to lob his former Cobh team-mate. At the end of the shot was Coleman who cleared the ball as it dropped onto the line.
An attempt by Cunningham to square the ball was then turned home by Cobh captain Kavanagh. Cunningham got on the score sheet at the 90th minute with the third penalty of the night.
This weekend’s fixtures:
Friday May 7th
- Cabinteely v Cobh Ramblers
- Galway United v Bray Wanderers
- Shelbourne v Athone Town
- UCD v Treaty United
- Cork City v Wexford FC
The season is really starting to take shape in the Premier Division now that each team has faced each other. Shamrock Rovers are in formidable form and it looks like it is going to take something special to stop them. St. Pat’s will fancy their chances when they face off this weekend.
Athlone will be disappointed that their unbeaten run has come to an end but will still be pleased with their early form this season. Treaty United have had a dream start to life in the division but surely boast a record finishing four of their opening six games with ten men!
There are plenty of developing storylines this season so be sure to check back next week for the latest round of results.