Sligo maintain unbeaten start to season – LOI Lowdown

The upsets continued across the Premier and First division last weekend with 25 goals scored across ten games. The underdogs continue to impress in the Premier division while there was no shortage of shocks in the First division either.

Without further ado let’s get into the action!

Premier Division

Longford Town 0-1 Sligo Rovers

A first goal for the club from Garry Buckley put Sligo Rovers top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table as Liam Buckley’s side came away from Bishopsgate with all three points to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign.

Central defender Buckley got the only goal of a scrappy encounter early in the second half in the midlands sunshine as newly promoted Longford’s bright start to the season came to an end.

Though Sligo dominated the first half, and were good value for their goal when it came just after the break, Longford played their way back into the game throughout the second half but couldn’t find an equaliser.

Longford were ultimately undone from a corner two minutes into the second half.

McCourt’s crisp delivery found Parkes at the back post. And though his header was partially blocked by a defender, Buckley was there to nod the loose ball to the net.

Shamrock Rovers 2-1 Dundalk

Champions Shamrock Rovers claimed their first win of the new season over old rivals Dundalk at Tallaght Stadium in what was a match of two goalkeepers.

While Alan Mannus excelled between the sticks for Stephen Bradley’s side, his opposite number Alessio Abibi was found wanting for both of the home side’s goals as the Lilywhites still await their first victory of the campaign.

The Louth men arguably had the pick of the chances on the night but a combination of poor defending and suspect goalkeeper allowed Danny Mandroiu and Dylan Watts to score from long range with Watts’ strike on 73 minutes a real hammer blow at a time when the visitors were turning the screw.

Patrick Hoban did pull a goal back for Dundalk a minute from the end but it was not enough to prevent the visitors slipping to their second defeat of the season.

The last time Dundalk had lower points after three games in the top flight was almost 50 years ago at the start of the 1971/72 season when they lost their opening three league matches.

The Hoops had much of the chances with Graham Burke having a shot parried away on 17 minutes before Lee Grace headed wide from his free kick 11 minutes later. Aaron Greene then pulled a shot across the face of goal after beating Andy Boyle to Burke’s pass soon after before the breakthrough arrived on 36 minutes.

The Dundalk defence was guilty of sleeping as Mandroiu picked up Ronan Finn’s lay off to send a scorching shot to the net as Abibi floundered in his attempt to make the save.

The game was then over as a contest on 76 minutes when Watts fired home from range with Abibi once again found wanting.

Greene then had a chance soon after to make it 3-0 but fired wide on the break before Mannus denied Dundalk a route back into the game four minutes from the end when he turned Dummigan’s shot around the post.

They did eventually make the breakthrough on 89 minutes when Hoban nodded in from a Chris Shields cross but it was a case of too little, too late with Rory Gaffney going closest in the four minutes of stoppage time when he curled a shot just wide of the post.

Drogheda United 1-1 Finn Harps

Finn Harps remain unbeaten this season after Drogheda’s Mark Doyle cancelled out a Karl O’Sullivan rocket in a scrappy 1-1 draw at Head in the Game Park.

There was a lack of quality throughout the game, but Drogheda dominated the final half an hour but neither side could find the winner.

The opening half was rather forgettable. The only chance of the half fell to Mark Doyle after Drogheda countered through Gary Deegan who played Doyle in down the left-hand side. Doyle beat his man and his shot from inside the box was straight at McGinley.

The second half sprung into life when Mark Russell tried his luck from 30 yards and Odumosu let the ball slip through his fingers. Fortunately, the ball went over the bar for a corner.

The opening goal arrived after 56 minutes. David Webster’s long throw was headed away but it fell to Karl O’Sullivan on the edge of the box who unleashed a first time low bullet that flew into the bottom right corner to give the visitors the lead. A contender for goal of the weekend.

Tim Clancy turned to his bench and introduced Darragh Markey, and it paid dividends. He was involved in a great team equaliser that saw Murray dink the ball in behind for the onrushing James Brown who squared it for Mark Doyle to tap home for his first goal of the season.

In the end a draw was a fair result in a game that won’t live long in the memory.

Derry City 1-2 Waterford FC

Ten men Waterford secured their first victory of the season and heaped more misery on Derry City.

It was a bittersweet night for captain Oscar Brennan, who scored what turned out to be the winner, before getting sent-off on 80 minutes.

City went close on 17 minutes but Ciaron Harkin’s stinging long range drive was straight at Brian Murphy and the Waterford keeper easily held the effort.

The home side were inches away from taking the lead on 28 minutes but Danny Lupano was unable to get his head onto Will Patching’s superbly delivered left wing free-kick, when he came in at the back post.

Minutes later the visitors broke the deadlock in sublime fashion as Shane Griffin’s 20 yard free-kick dipped up and over the wall and gave Nathan Gartside no chance,  finding the keeper’s left hand corner.

Derry equalised with what was the final touch of the half as another super Patching free-kick from the left was nodded on by Eoin Toal and Cameron McJannet was on hand to fire home his first goal for the club.

Waterford regained the lead on 51 minutes as Oscar Brennan fired home the rebound, after his initial penalty was kept out by a diving Gartside, who had incidentally brought down James Waite inside the box.

Derry should have equalised for a second time on 65 minutes as Jack Malone’s cut-back found an unmarked Patching, but the Dundalk loanee blasted over from close range, with the goal at his mercy.

Waterford were rightfully reduced to ten men on 81 minutes as skipper Brennan received a second yellow card in the space of a few minutes after his tough challenge on Patching.

The ten men nearly conceded another equaliser soon after but Lupano’s close range header rattled the crossbar, in what was Derry’s final chance of the game.

Bohemian FC 0-1 St. Patrick’s Athletic

St Patrick’s Athletic went joint-top of the SSE Airtricity League on Saturday night as Ronan Coughlan’s header snatched all three points at Dalymount Park.

The result heaped further misery onto Bohemians who have made a struggling start to the season following their impressive second-placed finish in 2020.

Crucially, Keith Long lost four key players over the past year, with Danny Mandroiu, Danny Grant, Andre Wright and Kris Twardek all departing Dublin 7 for pastures new.

With an exodus of that much creativity from their squad it is little surprise the Gypsies have already stumbled against Finn Harps, Longford and now St Pat’s this season.

The hosts started with the majority of possession from kick-off but struggled to fully settle on the ball as Robbie Benson and Coughlan led an urgent St. Patrick’s press.

The visitors started the second half on the front foot again, but were nearly punished on the break as Ian Bermingham lost possession in midfield.

The ball found its way to right-back Lyons who drove into a pocket of space in Bermingham’s absence. Ultimately, his inviting cross was just inches away from finding the head of Georgie Kelly on the six yard box.

Bohs had another chance just before the 60 minute mark, when Sam Bone clumsily gifted the hosts a free-kick on the right wing. The resulting delivery found the head of Cornwall but his effort was comfortably welcomed into the arms of Jaros.

Finally, in the 62nd minute of play, there was a breakthrough as the sun set over Dalymount Park.

Benson, whose deliveries looked sharp throughout the evening, swung a lofted corner to the back post where Coughlan rose highest to finish past Talbot in the Bohs net.

Pat’s rarely looked like adding to their lead but instead looked to solidify the back four, introducing experienced centre-back Paddy Barrett in place of Darragh Burns midway through the second half.

The hosts grappled for ideas but ultimately couldn’t come up with anything more incisive than long balls directed toward the height and strength of Kelly up front.

As the evening wore on that simply wasn’t good enough and O’Donnell’s side had the quality needed to maintain possession and frustrate their hosts in the game’s dying embers.

This weekend’s fixtures:

Friday April 9th

  • St. Patrick’s Athletic v Derry City
  • Dundalk v Bohemian FC

Saturday April 10th 

  • Finn Harps v Waterford FC
  • Longford Town v Drogheda United
  • Sligo Rovers v Shamrock Rovers

League table:

First Division

Cabinteely 1-0 Cork City

Cabinteely sit atop the Airtricity League First Division after a 1-0 home win over Cork City.

An own goal from the visitors’ centre-half George Heaven was enough to give them all three points from a lacklustre encounter in Stradbrook. Both sides entered the game off the back of 2-1 wins in their first games of the season last weekend.

City had beaten Cobh Ramblers at home despite a middling performance, while Cabo had gotten the better of Wexford at Ferrycarrig Park.

The prize for tonight’s winners was a two-point lead at the top of the table, and Cork City looked the more likely side to take it in the opening exchanges. An early corner from Dylan McGlade had the host’s goalkeeper Adam Hayden in trouble, but the ball evaded everyone on its way across the six-yard box. Gearóid Morrissey then forced Hayden into a good stop from twelve yards after Cian Bargary’s long throw was only half-cleared.

Cabinteely hit the front after 55 minutes. Labutis threatened down the right, and his cross was sliced past McNulty by the luckless Heaven. City were briefly roused but found it difficult to impose themselves on a more confident home side.

City continued to huff and puff but Hayden looked secure. McGlade’s cutback from the left was fired goalwards by Walsh, but the Cabinteely stopper was in the right place. A flurry of corners in injury time was to prove equally fruitless and the hosts held out comfortably.

Cabinteely are top of the table at this early juncture, while City must be wondering if this new season is to be as frustrating as their last.

Treaty United 1-0 Wexford FC

Anthony O’Donnell proved the hero as the latest era of senior football on Shannonside got off a winning start.

Tommy Barrett’s side held on to the slenderest of leads to condem Wexford to their second defeat in as many weeks.

Clyde O’Connell’s 65th minute dismissal was the catalyst for a professional defensive showing from Treaty, as Wexford failed to create anything of note throughout the game.

The game was only 5 minutes old when Jack Doherty, one of three changes in the Wexford starting XI, raced onto a through ball but was denied by Shane Cusack.

Then, on 26 minutes, a moment of history for O’Donnell and his new club arrived. The defender had previously played with Limerick but is now a more refined and well-rounded defender. He finished from close range, after Marc Ludden’s free-kick was added to by Jack Lynch.

Trailing at the interval, Wexford were unable to threathen Cusack’s clean sheet in the second half. He dealt with a number of tame efforts, as well as a handful of crosses.

The hosts ideas of extending their lead were dashed in the 65th minute, when Clyde O’Connell was dismissed. His first yellow, just five minutes earlier, was for a cynical foul, but the second was more disputed. He appeared to have won the ball but referee Jason Mannix deemed the challenge to be excessive and the midfielder received his marching orders.

Treaty retreated, but were able to call upon their experience of operating with 10 men from last weekend and secured the victory. At the heart of defence was O’Donnell who led his new side to their first ever victory, in what is hoped is a new dawn for football in the mid-west.

Athlone Town 3-1 Galway United

Athlone Town produced an impressive performance to cruise to a comfortable 3-1 victory against a fancied Galway United side in Athlone on Friday night.

An own goal from Gary Boylan and two goals from Stephen Meaney in the opening 30 minutes was enough to seal all three points. Substitute Wilson Waweru pulled one back for the Tribesmen, but the Athlone men held on to secure their first three points of the campaign.

Had there been fans in Lissywollen for the opening 45 minutes and indeed the 90 minutes, Athlone certainly would have gotten a standing ovation, such was the quality of their performance. They played with confidence, and they gave the Galway defence a torrid time in the first half, with a sense of shock visible on the faces of the Galway defence at half time.

Galway did start well and almost opened the scoring inside the first five minutes. Conor McCormack’s in swinging corner was met by the Ruari Keating at the front post, but his header glanced just over the bar.

However, it was the Athlone men that broke the deadlock 11 minutes in. Adam Wixted did brilliantly to dispossess Galway left back Stephen Walsh’s attempted clearance. The ricochet fell into the path of Wixted who raced down the right side. He laid it off to Aidan Friel on the overlap, who whipped in a dangerous cross which was met by the unfortunate head of Gary Boylan, who turned it into his own net.

Athlone grew into the game from there, and they doubled their lead just six minutes later. A ball over the top fell kindly to Wixted again on the right-hand side, and he sent Stephen Meaney through one on one with a neat header forward. Meaney made no mistake in rifling the ball to the roof of the net, to give The Town a two-goal lead inside the opening 20 minutes.

The wide channels were causing Galway all sorts of problems in the opening half and remarkably Athlone made it three with just 26 minutes of play gone. A long, seemingly harmless ball out wide found James Doona on the left. He beat Killian Cantwell and sent a cross into the danger zone. Meaney arrived at the back post and made no mistake of burying the ball into an empty net for his second of the night and Athlone’s third.

Galway did start much brighter in the second half and almost pulled one back five minutes after the restart. Mikey Place delivered a dangerous ball in, which bounced around the danger zone. It eventually fell at the feet of substitute Wilson Waweru, but he was unable to hit the target as his shot sailed just wide of Schlingermann’s left post.

Four minutes later, and at the opposite end to the field, Galway keeper Conor Kearns was at full stretch to tip Kurtis Byrne’s effort over the bar from just outside the box after Wixted had done well to tee him up.

Galway did settle well into the game and piled the pressure on the Athlone defence, with substitute Mikey Place and Waweru both looking dangerous.

The Tribesmen did create some late chances, with Wilson Waweru going close, but it was Athlone’s night as they held on to claim all three points.

Shelbourne FC 3-3 Bray Wanderers

Shelbourne are yet to experience their first victory of this campaign. Twice they were in front, but their visitors pegged them back both times before getting in front.

A late penalty ultimately allowed the home side a share of the points, but neither manager will be entirely happy with the defending on display.

Both teams saw changes to their line-ups as they each played out scoreless draws.

It was the home side who started the brighter. A number of crosses threatened, while there was a penalty shout ignored for a block on JJ Lunney.

Bray’s early discomfort was made worse on two fronts. Gary Shaw went down holding his leg after attempting to run onto a through-ball. Lovic replaced him.

Not long after that early switch, Shels went in front. George Poynton was allowed the space to cut inside from the left before bending his shot inside the post.

If they were on top, an equaliser came from their own error. Maxim Kouogun played a ball across his own area to allow Brandon Kavanagh to capitalise.

The game swung back in Shelbourne’s favour again though. Former Seagull Ryan Brennan latched onto a loose ball to lob the ball over a stranded Brian Maher.

Bray came out in determined fashion. Richie O’Farrell had an effort saved before they drew level yet again.

Ryan Graydon picked up a through-ball from Aaron Barry to net past Clarke. Barry then saw a chance blocked as they tried to get in front.

It would not be long before this occurred. Kavanagh found some space outside the area before letting fly with a cracking effort into the bottom corner. They were now the side with their tails up and begun to dominate proceedings.

Shelbourne desperately tried to get back into the game with a number of changes. When the chance did arise, it came in slightly dubious circumstances.

A foul occurred in the box was awarded as a penalty. Bray players protested but to no avail. Poynton just about scoring the spot kick.

Both teams went back to forth as neither seemed content to settle for a point. Shels carved out a few chances on set-pieces while Bray remained a constant threat on the break.

Cobh Ramblers 0-4 UCD

A brace from Liam Kerrigan combined with a smashing free kick from Jack Keaney and a late strike from Colm Whelan gave UCD a 4-0 win over Cobh Ramblers at St Colman’s Park.

The College, who drew 2-2 at home to Athlone Town last week, dominated this First Division clash in East Cork.

Cobh, who were seeking redemption after losing 2-1 in the Cork derby last week, stared bright but failed to force a meaningful chance.

Darryl Walsh tried to burst through the UCD back three, but the trio held firm and the Cobh forward ran wide, into no man’s land.

Minutes later the Rams were given a free kick, which saw Walsh set up Ian Turner, who fired low into the area. The ball failed to find a foot inside the crowded penalty box and Lorcan Healy scoop up the ball with ease.

Slowly the college began to assert themselves on the game. Andy Myler chose to play five in the centre, and this allowed them to enjoy much of the possession in the first half.

Kerrigan, who scored on his last visit to St Coleman’s Park, bust free and fired from the tightest of angels to give UCD a 1-0 lead on the half hour mark.

The College should have doubled their lead when Evan Weir squared the ball a free Whelan. Ahead of the striker was a congested Cobh back four, who cleared the ball to safety.

Kerrigan got his second of the after he flicked a header across goal, well out of the reach of goal-keeper Sean Barron.

The Students closed out of the half with a superb strike from Whelan, which beat Barron and blasted off the crossbar.

The second half began with a charge from the Cobh midfield to support of striker Conor Drinan, which pushed UCD back into their penalty area. This led to a flurry of changes, but each was dealt with by a strong Luke Boore.

UCD captain Kearney led by example for the college’s third goal, by curling an inch perfect free-kick into the top corner of the Cobh goal from twenty-five yards.

In an attempt to rescue the game, Cobh started launching balls forward to James Hegarty, who was brought on in place of Ciaran Griffin. If the college’s back three could not deal with these, Healy came out to help his side, by catching and clearing the ball.

With three minutes remaining, UCD completed their rout when Whelan fired from close range, after an impressive run through the centre of the pitch.

This weekend’s fixtures:

Friday April 9th:

  • Cork City v Athlone Town
  • Cabinteely v Galway United
  • UCD v Bray Wanderers
  • Treaty United v Cobh Ramblers
  • Shelbourne v Wexford FC

League table:

 

That’s it for this week’s League of Ireland lowdown, once again the big boys have failed to deliver across both divisions. Will we see more upsets this weekend or will the pre-season favourites begin to regain their form? We will just have to wait and see! Be sure to check back next week for the latest round of results.

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