Shamrock Rovers on the rise – LOI Lowdown

The League of Ireland continues to produce plenty of drama, defending champions Shamrock Rovers have risen to joint top of the table while Dundalk, the team to beat for so many years, have parted company with their management collective after a disappointing start to the season.

Let’s get into the action!

Premier Division

Derry City 0-2 Shamrock Rovers (postponed game from matchday 2)

Despite another spirted display, Derry City suffered their fourth defeat of the season, with Shamrock Rovers’ Graham Burke scoring a goal of the season contender at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

Ireland midfielder Burke found the net from the halfway line minutes after Rory Gaffney had given Rovers the lead on the half-hour mark.

The stunning strike all but sealed the points for the Tallaght men and ensured Derry remain rooted at the bottom of the Premier Division table.

Derry were inches away from breaking the deadlock on 16 minutes as Sean Hoare’s header back to Alan Mannus was too short, but the centre-back’s blushes were saved as David Parkhouse’s shot past the out-rushing Rovers keeper, clipped the post.

Rovers went close themselves a minute later as Gaffney’s cushioned lay-off found Burke inside the box, but the midfielder’s close range side footed effort was well saved by City keeper Nathan Gartside.

Stephen Bradley’s men did open the scoring on 34 minutes as Burke’s angled drive from the right side of the Derry penalty box was outstandlingly kept out by a diving Gartside, but Gaffney gratefully turned home the loose ball from close range.

The champions doubled their lead five minutes later in stunning fashion as Burke caught out Gartside with an unbelieveable 45-yard strike, which sailed over the back tracking Derry keeper and into the net.

Waterford FC 0-1 Bohemians

A Rob Cornwall goal on the stroke of half-time was enough to see Bohemians take all three points against Waterford this evening in what was a dominant performance from the Dublin side.

Waterford went close with the first chance of the game after just two minutes. Winger James Waite whipped a deep cross into the box onto the head of Daryl Murphy. Murphy stretched to direct a header towards goal but wide of the post.

The early scare sparked the visitors into life as they settled into the game impressively in the following ten minutes. Darragh Power had to be sharp close to goal when a powerful Liam Burt cross flashed across the box but the Waterford defender was sharp to scoop the ball over the bar.

Bohs with their early dominance were edging closer and closer to breaking the deadlock and did so on the stroke of half time.

A superb curling free kick on the edge of the box from Tyreke Wilson was too strong for Martin who could only palm the ball straight into the path of the waiting Cornwall yards from goal who tapped the ball into an empty net and deservedly gave his side the lead.

Waterford should have been level with the second half just three minutes old. Jamie Mascoll sent a diagonal cross into the box with Cameron Ferguson the intended target. Ferguson at full stretch managed to get a head on the ball but Talbot collected in the air to avert any danger.

Bohs held out for a narrow 1-0 win in a game that they dominated from start to finish with the three points moving them up to sixth place. Waterford remain in eight place with three points from a possible fifteen.

Derry City 1-1 Drogheda United

Derry City came from behind to earn their first point of the season, battling to a deserved draw with Drogheda United.

Winger James Brown gave the visitors the lead, but City youngster Ronan Boyce levelled things just before the break, heading home from close range.

In an entertaining second half both sides had chances, but in the end a draw for a result, although Derry boss Declan Devine will be disappointed that his side still haven’t won in their opening five games.

The first chance either side created came on 18 minutes as a superb 20-yard pass over the top by Will Patching released Will Fitzgerald, who after getting in behind the Drogs defence, saw his tame header easily gathered by Colin McCabe.

Minutes later the visitors took the lead as Derry failed to clear the lines and although Cameron McJannet did well to block Darragh Markey’s close range strike, the rebound was blasted home by Brown.

Derry levelled things on 39 minutes after a corner routine ended with Patching’s inch-perfect left footed cross finding Boyce, who gleefully headed home his first goal for his home town club.

Dundalk 1-1 St. Patrick’s Athletic 

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe poked home five minutes from time to ensure a day of turmoil for Dundalk at least didn’t end in defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic at Oriel Park.

With team manager Shane Keegan stepping down from his role at the Co Louth club earlier in the day, it looked as though Dundalk were set to slip for their fourth league defeat in-a-row after Sam Bone had headed the visitors in front on 56 minutes.

However, Junior’s equaliser late on ensured a first point for the Lilywhites since their opening day draw away to Sligo Rovers.

Stephen O’Donnell’s men had dominated the opening exchanges and looked like they would strengthen their position at the top of the table but, on the whole, a draw was probably a fair result.

It was a nervous start from the home side with a mistake at the back gifting Matty Smith with the game’s first chance on three minutes but Andy Boyle did well to block.

Smith would then force the first save of the game from Alessio Abibi, restored to the side after being dropped for Peter Cherrie for the defeat to Bohemians eight days ago, on the quarter hour mark. The former Waterford man then turned provider for the half’s best chance a minute later but Robbie Benson blazed over with his left foot after being teed up at the edge of the box.

Benson would have another half chance with a header on 23 minutes before Dundalk gradually grew into the game as half-time approached.

The breakthrough then arrived five minutes after 57 minutes when Sam Bone headed home at the near post from Benson’s corner.

Dundalk had a glorious chance to level on 73 minutes when Duffy’s corner dropped to Chris Shields eight yards out but somehow the Lilywhites captain pulled his shot to the left and wide.

Substitute Billy King then went close to doubling Pat’s advantage a minute later but he was denied by a brilliant one-handed stop by Abibi.

Abibi came to Dundalk’s rescue once again when he turned King’s shot out for a corner after he had been slipped in by Forrester.

That would prove crucial as Dundalk levelled on 85 minutes with Junior bundling the ball through the legs of Jaros after a heavy touch by Cleary looked like it would see a good change go abegging.

Both sides had chances to win it after that with Duffy being denied by Jaros before Benson scuffed a half volley wide on the 90 minute mark.

Paddy Barrett then denied his old club a stoppage time winner with two goal line clearances in quick succession, firstly to keep out Ian Bermingham’s miscued clearance and then to keep out Darragh Leahy’s follow up.

David McMillan had another header after that from a Duffy cross but unfortunately for the home side it was straight at the keeper.

It’s a long way back for Dundalk still in terms of a title race but this, at least, was a step in the right direction in stopping the rot.

The result was not enough to prevent head coach Filippo Giovagnoli from also tendering his resignation.

Shamrock Rovers 2-1 Longford Town

Sean Gannon scored a scrappy, late, late winner to deprive Longford Town of a creditable draw at Tallaght Stadium.

A below par performance it may have been from the champions, it nonetheless put Stephen Bradley’s Shamrock Rovers top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table for the first time this season, albeit on goal scored in a three-way tie ahead of St Patrick’s Athletic and Sligo Rovers.

With the sides having swapped penalties early in each half, Rovers’ late pressure told three minutes into added time.

Dylan Watts’s free kick was half cleared to Gannon whose drive deflected to the net off Longford captain Aodh Dervin.

The result was tough on Longford, if the performance was encouraging following last week’s 4-0 home humbling by Drogheda United.

Aaron Dobbs was one of the changes the Town made from the starting eleven last week and the striker tormented his former club early on, winning a seventh minute penalty to give the visitors a very encouraging start.

Roberto Lopes dallied on a pass back from Graham Burke with Dobbs alert to his sloppiness to pounce and get goal side of him. In trying to retrieve the situation, the back-tracking Cape Verde international pushed Dobbs off the ball to concede a penalty.

Lopes was booked, though Longford felt he should have been sent off, before Dylan Grimes confidently sent Alan Mannus the wrong way from 12 yards.

Looking for an immediate response, Rovers probed with Graham Burke unleashing a couple of drives from distance, one cannoning out for a corner off the head of Joe Gorman, the other straight into the grateful arms of keeper Michael Kelly.

Rovers brought in Gary O’Neill and Rory Gaffney at half-time for Lee Grace and skipper Ronan Finn and it almost had an instant effect as they worked Kelly twice inside a minute.

The pressure of Rovers’ eighth corner finally told on 54 minutes, though. Remarkably, it was a reverse of the game’s first penalty incident as Dobbs hauled down Lopes as he darted across the area to meet Burke’s quickly taken corner.

Burked drilled the resulting spot kick down the middle to level the game.

Rovers laboured to create much as they pressed for a winner.

Gaffney shot narrowly wide while Burke volleyed over the crossbar before Gannon’s last gasp intervention delivered the points at the death to break Longford hearts.

Sligo Rovers 1-0 Finn Harps

Teenager Johnny Kenny grabbed an opportunistic winner as Sligo Rovers claimed bragging rights in the north west, with a narrow win over neighbours Finn Harps at the Showgrounds.

17-year-old Kenny made the most of a second half mistake from Harps goalkeeper Mark McGinley to end the Donegal men’s unbeaten start to the season.

This was the first time since the back end of the 1995/96 season that both sides had met while occupying positions in the top four of the Premier Division.

But neither side dominated the opening half of this derby encounter.

The Finn Valley men have surprised many with their impressive start to 2021, but it took them almost a half hour to test Rovers goalkeeper Ed McGinty.

Mark Russell’s sharp turn brought him past Sligo defender John Mahon, but Russell’s effort from the angle was plucked from the air by McGinty.

Rovers attacker Romeo Parkes netted against Harps in his first season of League of Ireland football two years ago.

But Harps’ net minder McGinley was determined not to allow the Jamaican an opener in this tie, reacting superbly to tip Parkes’ attempted chip over his crossbar eight minutes from the break after the Sligo striker had trapped Mahon’s long ball from the back.

Parkes was involved once more shortly after the re-start. Unmarked, he struggled to properly judge the flight of Gibson’s driven cross from the right, as the attacker headed over McGinley’s crossbar.

Harps then gifted their opponents the lead on 51.

McGinley the guilty party as he failed to deal with a ball straight to his feet. Half-time substitute Kenny was rewarded for his endeavour as he chased the case, robbed McGinley and rolled the ball into an empty net for his first senior goal for the Showgrounds side.

This week’s midweek and weekend fixtures:

Tuesday April 20th

  • Drogheda United v Shamrock Rovers
  • St. Patrick’s Athletic v Waterford FC
  • Longford Town v Finn Harps
  • Derry City v Dundalk
  • Bohemians v Sligo Rovers

Friday April 23rd

  • Finn Harps v St. Patrick’s Athletic
  • Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians

Saturday April 24th

  • Dundalk v Drogheda United
  • Waterford FC v Longford Town
  • Sligo Rovers v Derry City

League table:

First Division

Bray Wanderers 1-2 Athlone Town

Athlone Town consolidated their position at the top of the First Division on Friday night when they overcame Bray Wanderers 2-1 in the Carlisle Grounds – a win they just about deserved given their performance over the 90 minutes.

The Midlanders got off to a flying start and attacked the Seagulls on all fronts but they were rocked back onto their heels after seven minutes when they fell behind against the run of play.

The home side had hardly got out of their own half during the opening exchanges, but in their first attack right winger Stephen Kinsella made good progress down the wing.

His low cross into the box made it all the way across to the opposite wing where left back Dylan Barnett took a touch and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top right hand corner giving Michael Schlingermann no chance in the Athlone goal.

It did not take long for the visitors to respond however and they immediately took the game to Bray straight from the kick-off and three minutes later they were on level terms.

Adam Wixted, who troubled Barnett with his speed and footwork all night, went on a searing run on the right wing. When he drove the ball across the box, the experienced Kurtis Byrne was perfectly positioned to tuck the ball into the bottom right-hand corner for the equaliser.

Byrne was on hand again in the 14th minute when he struck for a second time, this time he was at the end of another one of Athlone’s many free-flowing movements to fire the ball past Brian Maher in the Bray goal.

Bray were unlucky not to equalise during their period of dominance in the second half. However a combination of Athlone’s attacking play in the opening 30 minutes, combined with their doggedness in defence in the last half hour meant that overall they were worthy of the three points.

The win leaves Athlone clear at the top on 10 points while Bray drop from 6th to 7th position still stuck on three points.

Wexford FC 1-2 Cobh Ramblers

Having taken just a single point from their opening three games, Cobh Ramblers recorded their first victory of the season casting aside pointless Wexford FC at Ferrycarrig Park.

With both sides in dire straits at the foot of the table, it was Cobh who showed the greater composure having gone toe-to-toe with their opponents through the latter stages to deservedly take the points in the end.

Cobh may have taken the three points but they won’t get carried away for they know they have some huge games ahead, while for Wexford the struggle continues now pointless after four games.

After a low-key opening ten minutes, it was not difficult to realise why both sides are struggling at the bottom of the table. The game began to then liven up as the opening goal was going to prove crucial.

Cobh went ahead after 12 minutes with a somewhat bizarre goal. Home keeper Jimmy Corcoran seemed to have the ball under his control on the edge of the area but delayed his clearance, leaving the onrushing Ciaran Griffin to block his attempted clearance to knock the ball into an empty net giving the visitors the comfort of an early lead.

Through the opening period, it was the visitors who were doing most of the pressing but they had to wait until the 43rd minute for their second goal with Killian Cooper powerfully heading home a Cian Murphy corner kick.

Wexford showed real improvement in the second half doing most of the early pressing but they were unable to prise open the Cobh defence who got in some desperate blocks to keep their goal intact. In quick counter-attacks, they came close to extending their lead with David O’Leary and Cooper having attempts on goal knocked away to safety.

The Wexford goal arrived three minutes from the end when Kyle Robinson powerfully headed home a Paul Fox corner but it was too late to affect the result.

Cork City 1-3 Shelbourne FC

Following back-to-back draws, Shelbourne have now recorded back-to-back wins First Division with this comfortable 3-1 triumph against ten-man Cork City at Turner’s Cross.

Goals from Ally Gilchrist, Shane Farrell, and a Yousef Mahdy penalty were enough to see Shels claim the victory against a City side who have now lost three games on the bounce despite taking the lead here with a Dylan McGlade spot-kick, as Jack Walsh’s red card in the first half proved crucial.

Cork were given a perfect opportunity to take the lead in the seventh minute as the referee pointed to the penalty spot after deciding that Maxim Kougoun had fouled Cian Coleman inside the penalty area.

Winger Dylan McGlade took the responsibility for the kick and coolly dispatched it into the top left corner, sending the keeper the wrong way in the process.

The Rebel Army were inches away from doubling their advantage on the quarter of an hour mark but captain Gearoid Morrissey’s header from McGlade’s in-swinging corner deflected onto the top of the crossbar at the Shed End.

Shels soon grew into the game and they got their reward after 20 minutes as Ally Gilchrist bundled home the equaliser from a few yards out.

George Poynton had been causing City problems with his long-range passing. On this occasion, his corner picked out his centre-back inside the six-yard box and he forced the ball into the back of the net under pressure.

City were dealt a huge blow shortly past the half-hour as Jack Walsh was shown a straight red card following an off-the-ball incident that took place right in front of the two dugouts and crucially the fourth official, whom the referee briefly consulted.

The Reds failed to take advantage of the extra space before the half-time break but it would take them just two second-half minutes to edge into the lead.

Ronan Hurley failed to cut out Jonathan Lunney’s searching pass and with all the time in the world, Shane Farrell controlled the ball, composed himself and drilled his strike into the far top left corner.

Farrell soon sent a curler just past that same part of the City goal while Michael O’Connor was desperately unlucky not to make it 3-1 on 57 minutes but his header struck the base of the right post and rolled wide.

City’s veteran goalkeeper Mark McNulty kept his side in with a chance when he made a superb reaction save to turn Gilchrist’s header over his bar but the closest they would come to snatching a leveller was an ambitious effort by Dale Holland late on which Brendan Clarke easily dealt with.

Shelbourne deservedly wrapped up the three points in injury time as Yousef Mahdy just about beat McNulty with his penalty after Morrissey brought down Lunney.

UCD 4-1 Cabinteely

UCD continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 4-1 victory over local rivals Cabinteely at the UCD Bowl on Friday night.

Colm Whelan was the hero as his hattrick powered the homeside to victory. Dean Casey did reduce the deficit to two early in the second half, but Donal Higgins put the icing on the cake 56 minutes in when he slotted home to ensure UCD would get all three points.

In truth, the scoreline probably did not reflect the game which was an extremely open match, with both sides enjoying plenty of chances but ultimately it was the Student’s ability to take their chances which was the difference between the sides on the night.

UCD got their perfect start and were ahead after just four minutes. Cabinteely launched a quick counterattack but Lorcan Healy was quick off his line to intercept an overstretched ball.

His clearance was flicked on by Liam Kerrigan in the middle of the field over the Cabinteely defence and set Whelan one-on-one with Adam Hayden, and Whelan made no mistake in slotting the ball past the Cabinteely shot stopper.

The visitors did have a chance of their own just a minute later, when Casey hit an audacious volley from outside the box, but it was comfortably gathered by Healy in the UCD goal.

Cabo settled well into the game after a shaky opening 25 minutes. Kieran Marty Waters forced Healy into action twice, both within a minute of each other.

The first, was a half volley from the edge of the area which was comfortably gathered by Healy and 30 seconds later, Waters beat Healy in the goal but failed to beat the post as the Cabinteely man’s finessed shot rebounded off the woodwork.

While Cabinteely were the brighter side towards the end of the first half, it was the Students who doubled their lead right on the stroke of half time. Whelan again latched onto a long ball, and he made no mistake in slotting the ball past Hayden for a second time.

Cabinteely had a huge chance to pull one back one minute into the second half. A long Luke McWilliams free kick found Dan Blackbyrne at the back post, but his volleyed sailed just wide of Healy’s post.

Immediately after the Cabo chance, they were punished as Whelan got his hattrick. His right footed shoot was placed beautifully into the far corner and leaving the Cabinteely players wondering what may have been, had the ball gone in at the opposite end.

53 minutes in and Cabinteely were handed a lifeline. Casey’s delicious free kick from just outside the area thundered into the top corner, giving Cabo a glimmer of hope early in the second half.

However, three minutes later, UCD restored their three-goal lead. Whelan once again raced onto a long ball, darting towards goal. He created a three-on-two scenario and teed Donal Higgins up, who slotted home for UCD’s fourth of the night.

With the game effectively over, chances dried up for the remainder of the game. There were some harmless opportunities at either end, the best chance coming Cabinteely’s way five minutes from time when substitute Conor Knight’s header was cleared off the line before Healy gathered and cleared his lines.

Galway United 1-1 Treaty United

Treaty United’s unbeaten start to the season continued on Friday night as they played out a 1-1 draw with Galway United at Eamonn Deacy Park.

Just one goal separated the sides deep in the game after Edward McCarthy finding the target in the 18th minute after Marc Ludden drilled a cross into the box.

Galway abandoned their three man defence for a four person back line after struggling against Shelbourne and Athlone Town this season but it didn’t seem to have the desired effect with the Tribesmen still not looking like the team they were expected to be before the season began.

They did manage to rescue a point late on with Wilson Waweru getting on the scoresheet for the second time with one of the last kicks of the game.

Treaty United set a frantic pace to start the game but it was United who had the first shot on goal.

In the ninth minute Ronan Manning showed off his skills when he cut in off the side line to beat Marc Ludden before pinging a long range diagonal ball through to Ruairí Keating.

The forward happily took the ball on and was confident enough to fire from the edge of the box drawing a good save from Tadhg Ryan in the Treaty goal.

In the 18th minute the visitors forced Galway to re-think how their evening was going to go after McCarthy headed the ball into the net while under strong pressure from the Galway defence.

It was former Tribesman Ludden that provided the excellent drilled cross into the box that found the midfielder deep at the back post to give Treaty the lead.

An overall poor first half saw Manning dribble a shot wide from long range and a few deflected shots for the home side, while Hanlon had a shot for the visitors during the half that bobbled into Conor Kearns’ chest.

There was an early scare for Treaty from a Killian Brouder free-kick in the Galway half. The defender played a good high ball into the box and a flock of Treaty defenders just managed to nod the ball down forcing Ryan to rush from his line and smother the ball to the ground.

In the 58th minute Galway found the target when Keating played the ball quickly from a free-kick, having been taken down near the centre circle.

The forward rolled it into the path of Shane Duggan who raced forward and blasted the ball at goal forcing a quick diving save by Ryan in the Treaty goal.

Treaty took the ball down the other side almost immediately with Alan Murphy managing to beat the defence and bare down on goal only for the midfielder’s shot to be excellently stifled by a block from Kearns.

Galway were applying most of the pressure throughout the second half, but clear cut chances were hard to come by for John Caulfield’s side.

Substitute Wilson Waweru drilled a great shot from the edge of the box late in the game which was blocked by a plethora of Treaty defenders which was followed by screams for a handball by Galway to no avail.

Waweru managed to come to Galway’s rescue in the final minute though after Conor McCormack booted a long ball in from a free-kick.

Keating rose highest in the box to nod the ball down to a crowded goal mouth where Waweru was able to pounce and hoof the ball into the roof of the net to rescue a point for the home side.

This weekend’s fixtures

Friday April 23rd

  • Athlone Town v Wexford FC
  • Cabinteely v Shelbourne FC
  • Treaty United v Cork City
  • Galway United v UCD

Saturday April 24th

  • Cobh Ramblers v Bray Wanderers

League table:

We hardly have time to catch our breath before the Premier Division is back in action tomorrow evening, the biggest question mark now is who will take charge of Dundalk?

The First Division continues to surprise us all with recently relegated Cork City seriously struggling to adapt to life in the second tier. Be sure to check back next week for the latest round of results.

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