First played second in the Premier Division this past weekend and it didn’t disappoint. Elsewhere in the top flight bottom club Waterford had an eventful week with manager Kevin Sheedy departing after just nine games while a Covid case and close contacts saw their first team stood down for their clash with Drogheda. Their U19 side instead fulfilled the fixture in what could be described as a character building exercise…
Derry City 1-1 Longford
Derry City had to come from behind to earn a deserved point against Longford Town in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
Town, who took the lead against the run of play thanks to Robert Hanley’s strike, will be bitterly disappointed conceding deep into stoppage time, as James Akintunde’s close-range strike deflected past goalkeeper Michael Kelly.
City, who started on the front foot, had a chance on four minutes but Eoin Toal’s header was tipped over by Town goalkeeper Kelly.
Derry continued to press for an opener and they went even closer on 14 minutes as Toal saw his towering header, which had Kelly beaten, headed off the line by Dean Zambra.
A teasing cross by Sean Elworthy just before the half-hour mark found Aaron Robinson, but his header at the back post was easily saved by Derry keeper Nathan Gartside.
Just before the break, a clever ball over the top by Patching released David Parkhouse, but the big striker’s shot on the turn from just inside the box flashed inches wide.
Kelly had to make a big save on 46 minutes as Patching’s 25-yard stinging drive was parried away by the keeper, and Parkhouse was unable to turn home the rebound.
Derry went close again soon after when Ciaran Coll’s left wing centre found Parkhouse at the back, after getting up well the front man’s header was kept out by a diving Kelly.
City had massive claims for a penalty on 64 minutes turned down by referee Rob Harvey, who felt James Akintunde went down too easily after Michael McDonnell had challenged him inside the box.
Town took the lead against the run of play on 75 minutes as a long hopeful ball into the Derry six-yard-box fell kindly for Robert Manley and the striker turned the ball home from close range.
In the closing stages, Derry substitute Patrick Ferry saw his well hit 20-yard volley superbly kept out by a diving Kelly and Toal had another header cleared off the line.
Right at the death, the home side deservedly levelled things as Akintunde, via a deflection, scored his second in as many games, firing home from 10 yards.
Dundalk 0-1 Sligo Rovers
Jordan Gibson’s fourth goal of the season saw 10-man Sligo Rovers inflict a fourth defeat of the season on struggling Dundalk at Oriel Park.
The 23-year-old showed superb skill to nutmeg Andy Boyle before rifling to the net from 25 yards out to ensure Liam Buckley’s men got back to winning ways after two draws and a defeat in their last three outings.
The result puts them nine points clear of Dundalk, who have now slipped to a first league defeat under interim manager Jim Magilton.
On their worst run of form since 2012 when the side needed a relegation play-off to stay up, the Louth men lacked a real threat throughout.
Even after their opponents had been reduced to 10 men, they struggled to break them down – relying on long punts forward hoping something would break for them. It didn’t and the result means they have now lost as many matches as they did in their 2019 title-winning campaign, with two of those defeats coming after the league had been secured.
With any hope of a title challenge now surely up in smoke, it will now be a huge task to even ensure European qualification for next season – something that Magilton described as “the bare minimum” expected of the side.
The home side had the first chance of the game when former Bit O’Red player Junior got in on the left only for Ed McGinty to get a hand to his effort before it was hooked clear.
Sligo were unlucky not to take the lead themselves on 10 minutes when Walter Figueira rattled the crossbar with a vicious strike from the edge of the area after the Dundalk rearguard had stood off him.
Junior then had another shot straight at McGinty before Han Jeong-woo was also denied by the Republic of Ireland U-21 goalkeeper, who did well to get down at his near post to make the save.
This was Dundalk’s best spell and on 29 minutes they almost had another good opening when Han dispossessed John Mahon before slipping Sean Murray in only for Garry Buckley to get across and block his first-time shot.
The Louth men then had a big let-off on 31 minutes when Peter Cherrie made a big save to deny Johnny Kenny after he had raced from halfway after dispossessing Val Adedokun.
The breakthrough would arrive on 39 minutes when Gibson collected Remeo Parkes’ pass before turning to nutmeg Boyle and then firing past Cherrie to the bottom left hand corner from all of 25 yards.
Lewis Banks then headed over from a corner five minutes after the restart before Daniel Cleary almost put a free-kick into his own net with an overhit ball that went out for a corner.
The home side were then thrown something of a lifeline when Sligo were reduced to 10 men on 53 minutes after Buckley, who had been booked in the first half for a late challenge on Val Adedokun, received a second yellow card for a high boot on Junior.
Substitute Daniel Kelly then had a big chance to level nine minutes later after being teed up to the right of goal by Murray, but he blazed over.
Michael Duffy then glanced a header wide from a Raivis Jurkovskis cross on 69 minutes before the Latvian international drilled another half-chance well over three minutes later.
Wilfried Zahibo then had an effort blocked by Niall Morahan, but it was Figueira who would be next to threaten as his shot from inside his own half almost caught Cherrie out on the 90-minute mark.
Zahibo would have two headers in stoppage time to try and rescue a point for Dundalk but on each occasion McGinty was equal to them as he ensured his side held out for all three points.
Waterford FC 0-7 Drogheda United
Drogheda United ended their five-game winless run with a 7-0 victory over Covid-affected Waterford FC at the RSC on Saturday evening.
After two of their senior players were deemed close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case, the Blues stood down their senior team and called up their Under-19 squad for the game.
In this battle of youth versus experience, it was the well versed visitors who dominated this Premier Division clash.
Drogheda’s first chance of the game came from an in-swinging free-kick. Club captain Jake Hyland placed the ball into the centre of a chaotic penalty box and Daniel O’Reilly dived to get his head to it. However, his effort was off target and went well wide.
Hyland then broke free and played Chris Lyons into space at the edge of the box. He squared the ball to Darragh Markey, who was being marked tightly by Lekan Oki. The Waterford defender managed to condense the space, causing Markey to fire wide.
The midfielder soon made amends by jumping onto a loose ball and firing into the roof of the net.
A spectacular touch from Mark Doyle was the catalyst for Drogheda’s second. Out of a corner from Hyland, the striker twisted free and acrobatically knocked the ball across the goal and in.
The visitors snatched the ball from the restart and set up Dane Massey, who made it 3-0 from close range.
In the closing moments of the first half, Lyons scored twice. The first saw the forward turn in a cross from James Brown and the second was from a penalty.
Despite the gulf of experience between the two teams, there were plenty of moments of quality from the young Waterford team. Cian Browne had an iron set of lungs which allowed for a near constant press on Drogheda. Oki was a force at the back for the Blues and he repeatedly saved the team with his last minute clearances.
Waterford looked a more comfortable in the second half and frustrated Drogheda’s quick-footed attack. Kyle Cooke, who impressed against Shamrock Rovers earlier this season for the Blues, made a number of key saves.
The sixth goal for Drogheda was a work of art. The ball was passed around 31 times by the team before getting crossed to the back post by James Clarke. Massey was there to strike first time and finish the excellent sequence of play.
Killian Philips completed the night for Drogheda after he broke through a crowded penalty box to head in from close range.
Bohemians 4-0 Finn Harps
Ali Coote scored his first goals as a Gypsy to ignite Bohemians’ season as they overran Finn Harps at Dalymount Park to avenge their opening night defeat in Ballybofey.
It was only the Gypsies’ third win of the campaign, and first at home, as Keith Long’s side ruined Ollie Horgan’s 250th match in charge of Harps.
Scottish midfielder Coote scored twice after Ross Tierney had given Bohemians an early lead as they won this game with a blitzkrieg first half display, skipper Keith Buckley adding their fourth goal at the death.
A dominant start by Bohemians brought a sixth minute half chance for Georgie Kelly, latching onto a Rory Feely ball down the inside-right channel. Kosovar Sadiki read it well to get across and make a solid block on Kelly’s shot.
There was no-one there eight minutes later, though, when Bohemians’ bright start got its reward.
It was route one, as James Talbot’s goal-kick bounced through for the run of Liam Burt on the left. The wingers low cross had sufficient pace on it to reach the far post where Tierney arrived to blast the ball to the roof of Mark McGinley’s net.
The 20-yard old almost added to his third goal of the season minutes later, heading over from Coote’s free kick, before Bohemians punished abject defending to deservedly double their lead on 20 minutes.
Again it stemmed from deep. Right-back Rory Feely broke up a Harps’ attack to push the ball on for Coote.
And the Scot ran from deep in his own half, unchallenged for some 40 yards, until hitting a low right-foot drive that arrowed past McGinley into his bottom right corner, the 22-year-old’s first goal for the club.
Further shocking defending brought Bohemians a third goal in the final minute of the half.
Mark Coyle’s attempted clearance from his own box deflected off Kelly into the path of Coote who took a touch to arrow his drive into the far bottom corner.
Horgan made three changes at the interval which had an impact of sorts as Harps had an edge to them from the restart.
Barry McNamee worked Talbot for the first time 12 minutes in before Will Seymore should really have hit the target instead of smashing a half volley wide from Boyd’s flick on.
Bohemians weathered that, however, to play their way back into the game, Burt bringing a fine save from McGinley on 66 minutes.
Tierney then won the ball in midfield to surge forward and rattle Harps’ crossbar with a thumping shot from distance.
Buckley then added the gloss in the fourth minute of stoppage time, cracking home from just inside the box following substitute Promise Omochere’s lay off.
St. Patrick’s Athletic 1-2 Shamrock Rovers
Shamrock Rovers extended their lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division to five points thanks to Danny Mandroiu’s superb injury-time goal against nearest challengers St Patrick’s Athletic.
Just as this evenly-contested clash looked to be petering out to a draw, the Republic of Ireland international produced a lung-busting run into the box and cool finish to punish a heavy touch from Lee Desmond in the 92nd minute.
The Saints now look cut adrift in second as the champions’ grasp on their crown tightens.
St Pat’s got off the to the perfect start and their early pressure paid off after just five minutes when Mandroiu was robbed of possession near the right side of his own box.
A cross from full-back John Mountney was deflected into the path of Chris Forrester, and he struck his shot into the ground, with the bounce beating goalkeeper Alan Mannus into the bottom right corner.
Pat’s were flying and the champions stunned, but not for long. Bit by bit they regained control with neat passages of play in midfield causing their opponents all kinds of problems.
There wasn’t much in the way of end product, however, and when striker Rory Gaffney fluffed a shot low into the legs of Vitezslav Jaros after being put through on goal after 20 minutes.
Jaros made a couple of simple handling errors with shots that came his way and was lucky not to be punished. He didn’t get away with it when Burke rifled in at the near post from just outside the box on the left four minutes before the break.
It was a sloppy goal to concede but no less than Rovers deserved. The tempo was relentless, Rovers dealing with it better as the Pat’s midfield was unable to get to grips with the challenge posed.
Burke was shown a yellow just after his goal for a rash foul on Billy King, the third of the game after bookings apiece for Jamie Lennon and Liam Scales, and the fiery nature was not contained to the pitch.
Even at this stage of the season this felt like a fixture that meant something. Not just because it’s a Dublin derby, but these are the sides that have set the early pace, with Sligo Rovers not far off.
Rovers go five clear at the top with this win and that League of Ireland unbeaten record now extends to 32 games.
For Pat’s, still very much a work in progress, this was a first defeat of a campaign in which they look best equipped to make this a title race.
They showed their resilience in the second half by wrestling the initiative back from Stephen Bradley’s side, but Rovers showed their class to pilfer the points with Mandroiu’s superb run and close range finish down the right side.
This weekend’s fixtures:
Friday 14th May
- Finn Harps v Dundalk
- Drogheda United v St. Patrick’s Athletic
Saturday 15th May
- Shamrock Rovers v Derry City
- Longford Town v Bohemians
- Sligo Rovers v Waterford
Cabinteely 1-0 Cobh Ramblers
A late Mitchell Byrne goal grabbed Cabinteely a vital three points in the First Division at Stradbrook against Cobh Ramblers.
The home side came into this off the back of a good 2-1 win over Athlone Town while Cobh had suffered a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Galway United.
Cobh started off the brightest as Killian Cooper played in Christopher O’Reilly with the forward’s low driven effort saved well by Cabo ‘keeper Adam Hayden’s left foot as he turned it around the post for a corner.
Stuart Ashton’s men resorted to a lot of long balls from defence to try and create chances and a knockdown from Cooper fell to the feet of Jake Hegarty saw his long-range effort charged down well by Cabinteely captain Daniel Blackbyrne.
In a half that had very little quality former Shamrock Rovers man Kieran Marty Waters brought the ball down beautifully before a fantastic swivel in the box managed to let him get a fantastic volley off from close range as Sean Barron dived to his left to make the save.
Cobh changed up their gameplay for the second half to a more passing approach and it nearly paid off just before the hour mark. The ball dropped to midfielder David O’Leary with his shot having to be tipped over well by Hayden in the Cabo goal.
Shortly after a good ball in from the deep by John Kavanagh found Cooper at the back post and his pull back right across the goal had no one to tap home.
Ashton’s men were trying to make their early second half pressure count. A free kick from deep by full back John Kavanagh to the back post found striker Cooper. He did brilliantly to hook the ball into the six yard area but luckily for Cabo no maroon shirt was there to force it home into an empty net.
Cabinteely responded well to the pressure that was put on them by the away side as a long ball from defense found Ben Hanarhan but his shot just went past the right-hand post.
O’Reilly managed to bring a high ball down before his turn and shot had to be well saved at full stretch by Hayden in the Cabinteely goal.
The away side’s good work was then undone three minutes from the end as persistence from substitute Jem Campion in the box manage to poke it away from Cobh defend before Mitchell Byrne managed to slam home the loose ball into the roof of the net from six yards out.
A tight game all round which Cobh will feel like they deserved a point for their battling efforts throughout the game while Cabinteely will be delighted to build on their fantastic win from last week again Athlone.
Galway United 1-2 Bray Wanderers
Bray Wanderers earned their first win of the season when they ran out 2-1 winners over Galway United at Eamonn Deacy Park.
It took seven games but the Seagulls faithful will have been pleased to see their side finally win a game in 2021 – especially after Galway’s dominance throughout the game.
Gary Cronin’s side took the lead early on through Joe Doyle before Ruairí Keating drew the sides level later in the first half, and that’s the way it remained until second half injury time.
Enter Gary Shaw, with the striker coming off the bench to score his first goal of the season to steal the victory in Galway.
Bray’s goal came about when Brandon Kavanagh squeaked a ball through the Galway defence in the sixth minute where Joe Doyle did well to turn on a euro coin and fire off a shot on goal which Conor Kearns did well to get down to.
The ball spilled back across the box and it was Doyle who was quickest to the rebound with the striker able to tap the ball into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.
Wanderers went inches away from doubling their lead in the 17th minute when a Dylan Barnett pass set Doyle free on the left flank.
He drilled a low cross in that struck Dean O’Shea in the Galway box but the ball dribbled away and just nicked the bottom of the post.
The Tribesmen equalised in the 34th minute with their first shot on goal after David Hurley brought Carlton Ubaezuonu into the game on the left wing with a great pass from the middle of the park.
Ubaezuonu spotted Ruairí Keating floating in the box and the midfielder played a great cross in to allow the forward nudge the ball over the line at the near post beyond Brian Maher for his fifth goal of the league campaign.
Just before half time Galway had two gilt edged chances on goal but they failed to stick either in the back of the net. Keating smashed the ball off the inside of the left post only to see the ball fly back across goal and away from danger.
United then recycled the ball back into the box where Ubaezuonu fancied a bicycle kick. The effort fooled Maher and it looked like it was looping gently into the bottom corner until it dinged the left post once again in a bizarre stretch of play for the home side.
Ten minutes after the re-start Shane Duggan had another effort on goal after some great pressure outside the box by the home side.
A Killian Brouder ball from deep in the Galway half found substitute Mikie Rowe’s feet in the 78th minute, well inside the Seagulls box.
Maher was on top of the midfielder immediately so his shot was easily blocked behind for a corner.
The winner came late on with Kavanagh the provider once more, this time from a corner-kick.
The midfielder sent the ball all the way to the far post where Shaw met it and drilled it into the back of the net with his head to give his side an important victory.
Shelbourne FC 1-0 Athlone Town
Shelbourne moved top of the First Division for the first time this season after edging out Athlone Town 1-0 at Tolka Park.
Ryan Brennan struck the only goal of the game as the Reds replaced Athlone at the summit, joining UCD on 15 points.
It was a result the home side fully deserved as they created a string of chances in the second half, hitting the woodwork twice, and should have had the points wrapped up sooner.
Shels carved out the first shot on target early on as Yoyo Mahdy strode in off the left wing and aimed a volley on goal, but it was comfortably saved by Mícheál Schlningermann.
The ever-dangerous James Doona produced Athlone’s first chance of note when he cut in from the right and sent a well-struck drive just over the bar.
Shane Barnes turned a Jamie Hollywood cross just wide for the visitors, while Kevin O’Connor saw his free kick expertly tipped out of the bottom corner by Schlingermann.
Athlone had former Shels midfielder Dan McKenna to thank for remaining level at the break as he cleared a Luke Byrne header off the line in injury time.
Ian Morris’ Reds got the goal they craved ten minutes after the restart and it was down to the persistence of Brennan, who reacted first when his shot was blocked by a defender.
The Drogheda native took a touch before smashing a low drive into the corner that Jonathan Carlin could only help into the roof of the net.
Shane Farrell was next to test Schlingermann from distance before McKenna again came to his keeper’s rescue as he cleared Kevin O’Connor’s goalbound effort off the line.
Luke Byrne was desperately unlucky not to double the lead 12 minutes from time as his header hit the top of the bar and bounced over,.
Brian McManus drove just wide before the woodwork intervened once more, sub Dayle Rooney hitting the post after Georgie Poynton had rounded Schlingermann.
The missed chances were to have no material effect, however, as the home side held out comfortably to move top of the pile alongside UCD, with only goal difference between them.
UCD 3-2 Treaty United
UCD propelled themselves to the top of the First Division by picking up all three points in a five-goal thriller against Treaty United at the Belfield Bowl.
This game had all the ingredients for a cracking match, two top four sides coming together, both sides sharing the best defensive records in the division, the hosts UCD having scored 18 goals in their first six games and the novelty of the very first clash between these two teams.
The game certainly lived up to its billing with UCD finally coming out on top on a 3-2 score line although they were made to work extremely hard for the victory.
The Limerick side dominated the opening and closing fifteen mins of the match but inbetween UCD showed why they are the current table toppers with a scintillating display of football, moving the ball very well from defence through midfield into the attack and scoring three well worked goals in a powerful 10-minute display either side of half time.
Treaty were quick out of the blocks, putting the hosts on the back foot for most of the opening phases of play. Left winger Dean George on the left wing was a constant threat for Treaty and he gave UCD right back Evan Weir many anxious moments while also combining well with his strike partner Kieran Hanlon.
Hanlon, known to Treaty supporters as ‘Red’ Hanlon, is a traditional robust centre forward and he caused a lot of trouble to the student’s defence and was instrumental in creating the opening goal, being fouled in the box by UCD keeper Lorcan Healy in the 11th minute.
Treaty number ten Sean McSweeney coolly slotted home the penalty to give Tommy Barrett’s side the lead they deserved.
UCD settled into their own pattern of play after the early setback however and after their first attempt on goal in the 14th minute, a shot that Colm Whelan lifted over the bar from inside the box, they began to dominate the game with Sean Brennan and Paul Doyle hugely influential in the engine room of midfield.
UCD tried hard to get sharpshooter Colm Whelan free but every time he got the ball he was surrounded by at least two if not three Treaty defenders, and then, very much against the run of play, Treaty got a second goal.
UCD keeper Healy needlessly came of his line in the 36th minute and when a ball broke to Hanlon on the right touch-line he spotted the opportunity to lob Healy from all of thirty metres, a great goal to leave it 2-0 in favour of the visitors.
Andy Myler’s side did pull one back in the 44th minute, no more than they deserved, Dara Keane taking advantage of the Limerick’s side focus on Whelan to get free in the box and finish off Brennan’s pass for a good goal.
UCD started the second half in a very positive fashion, and despite two early attempts from Treaty, a shot from McSweeney and a header that came back off the bar from Hanlon, their dominance paid off with two goals in quick succession.
Whelan made a driving run into the Treaty box in the 51st minute before laying off a good pass to the supporting Brennan and the livewire midfielder gave Tadhg Ryan no chance with his shot to the bottom left-hand corner of the goals.
The hosts mounted another attack immediately after the resumption and in the 54th minute defender Harvey O Brien found himself in the opponent’s box and when the ball fell kindly to him he crashed home a third goal for the students.
Barrett made three substitutions heading into the final quarter of the match and it certainly had the desired effect in terms of wresting back control from UCD.
They bombarded the UCD goal in the last ten minutes winning numerous frees and corner kicks but they lacked a bit of guile in front of goal and were unable to unsettle the UCD defence. There were some scary moments for the students however, none more so than when Mark Ludden blazed just over the bar in the 80th minute and again in the 90th minute when another close-range shot hit the butt of the post before being cleared.
Overall UCD deserved their three points although they were made to work very hard for them by the newcomers from Limerick.
Cork City 5-0 Wexford FC
Cork City thumped Wexford FC at Turner’s Cross to record a much needed win. Cian Murphy, Darragh Crowley, Cian Murphy and two from Beineon O’Brien Whitmarsh, completed the rout. The result makes it seven losses from seven matches for Wexford with manager Brain O’Sullivan departing.
This weekend’s fixtures
Friday 14th May
- Bray Wanderers v Cabinteely
- UCD v Cork City
- Treaty United v Athlone Town
- Galway United v Wexford FC
Saturday 15th May
- Cobh Ramblers v Shelbourne FC
Things are not sunny in the South-East this season with both Waterford and Wexford struggling in their respective divisions. With Shamrock Rovers now five clear the title race could be over before it ever really started such is their imperious form. The First Division on the other hand looks very exciting, a special mention to Treaty United who suffered their first defeat after seven games. Even the most optimistic of fans couldn’t have expected such a good start to life in the division.
There are plenty of twits and turns ahead this season so be sure to check back next week for the latest round of results.