Just when it looked like Shamrock Rovers were going to run away with the Premier Division title for the second season in a row the defending champions hit an unexpected speed bump in the form of Dundalk, swiftly followed by Sligo Rovers.
Brace yourselves for a long read as we have had two rounds of matches in the Premier Division since last week with plenty of drama
Waterford 0-1 Derry City
Newly appointed Waterford boss Marc Bircham got off to a losing start as Ronan Boyce’s first half header was enough for Derry City to win 1-0 and keep up their impressive form on the road.
Although Waterford were much more in the game after the break, in truth they could have lost by a bigger margin, as Derry had enough chances in the opening 45 minutes to have ended the game as a contest.
The home side didn’t get off to the best of starts as they fell a goal behind in just four minutes.
Bircham decided to bring former Ireland international goalkeeper Brian Murphy straight back into the team, but it was the ex-QPR shot-stopper that gave Derry a free-kick which resulted in the opening goal.
Murphy brought down James Akintunde close to the right hand corner flag and from Will Patching’s resulting free-kick, Boyce headed home, his second goal of the season, at the near post.
Derry went close to doubling their lead on 19 minutes as the impressive Patching won possession from Darragh Power, before seeing his 20 yard strike parried away by Murphy and the Waterford keeper did well to deny Akintunde with the follow-up chance.
Murphy was called into action again on 30 minutes as Patching’s 35 yard long-range strike nearly caught out the keeper, but he managed to gather the ball at the second attempt.
Waterford went close to levelling things with their first effort on goal on 42 minutes, but Shane Griffin’s 25 yard free-kick was superbly kept out by a diving Nathan Gartside.
The home side should have equalised on 57 minutes as Jamie Mascoll’s right wing cross found Adam O’Reilly, but from close range he headed over the bar.
On 86 minutes another teasing Patching delivery from the left found Eoin Toal at the back post, but the big skipper’s header flew just wide.
St. Patrick’s Athletic 2-1 Bohemians
Robbie Benson scored a stoppage time penalty winner in a frenetic finish to the Dublin derby at Richmond Park as Bohemians thought they had salvaged a draw just minutes earlier from a spot kick goal of their own.
The woodwork had twice thwarted Bohemians before St Pat’s stole the lead through Mattie Smith on 74 minutes.
Dawson Devoy equalised right on 90 minutes from the visitors’ second penalty of the game before Benson got St Pat’s back to winning ways after two defeats, stroking home from 12 yards to leave the final score at 2-1.
Unchanged for the third match running, St Pat’s enjoyed plenty of the ball early on before their ire was raised by the game’s first talking point nine minutes in when Ian Bermingham, part of the home side’s defensive wall, was harshly adjudged to have handled an Ali Coote free kick.
Referee Rob Hennessy pointed to the spot and showed a yellow card to the St Pat’s captain much to the consternation of the home players and their bench.
St Pat’s will feel poetic justice was duly served when Georgie Kelly crashed his spot kick off the crossbar.
In a tight game, James Talbot produced the first save of the evening just past the half hour, parrying away a stinging drive from Pat’s defender Sam Bone who had nicked the ball off a sluggish Ross Tierney in midfield.
Owning the ball for a period after the restart, Bohemians pressed St Pat’s well, forcing a real chance on 53 minutes.
A loose pass from Bone was pounced on by the lively Liam Burt who skipped past John Mountney and Bone in turn to work Vitezslav Jaros into pushing his shot from a tight angle out for a corner.
The frame of their goal rescued St Pat’s for a second time on 69 minutes; Tyreke Wilson curling his free kick up and over the wall only to see it cannon back off the crossbar.
A minute later Georgie Kelly might have done better than direct his free header straight at Jaros from Wilson’s cross.
The course of the game looked to have changed on 74 minutes as St Pat’s stole the lead against the run of play.
Bone won a defensive header to find substitute Benson just inside the visitors’ half.
A perfectly weighted pass put Smith in down the inside right channel and the striker drilled his low shot beyond Talbot and into the far corner.
But a second controversial penalty decision right on 90 minutes looked to have provided Bohemians with a deserved draw, John Mountney pulling down Burt, although the foul looked outside the area.
Devoy confidently sent Jaros the wrong way from the spot as St Pat’s head coach Stephen O’Donnell was sent to the stand for dissent.
The drama wasn’t over, though, as two minutes into added time Bohemians’ defender Ciaran Kelly barged Benson to the ground inside the area at the other end.
Benson drove his penalty straight down the middle to get St Pat’s back on track and end Bohemians’ recent revival.
Dundalk 2-1 Shamrock Rovers
Dundalk belied their recent form to end Shamrock Rovers’ 33-match unbeaten league record.
Fans gathered outside the ground before the game to call for chairman Bill Hulsizer to step down from his role in protest against the way the club has been run following a start which yielded just two wins from 11 matches prior to this game.
While it remains to be seen if the American will listen, the players at least seem to heed the message by inflicting a first defeat on Stephen Bradley’s side since Dundalk clinched the league title with a 3-2 win against them at the Co Louth venue in September 2019.
Birthday boy Daniel Kelly was the hero for Jim Magilton’s side on the night with a goal and an assist on what was his first start of 2021.
He set Patrick McEleney away for a superb goal on the break after 11 minutes and while Dundalk coughed up a cheap equaliser to Joey O’Brien after another goalkeeping gaffe just three minutes later, Kelly popped up with a spectacular winner with what was his 25th career goal on his 25th birthday just before the hour mark.
While the Louth men will be hoping this result can prove to be the catalyst for better results on the field, for Rovers it is a blow to their title retention hopes on a night where both Sligo Rovers closed the gap at the top to two points ahead of their trip to Tallaght Stadium on Monday.
It was the visitors who started on the front foot and they were unlucky not to be ahead after just four minutes when Liam Scales headed against the crossbar.
The early pressure continued after that from the champions but they were hit with a suckerpunch when Dundalk took the lead on the break on 11 minutes. After a Rovers corner was cleared Cameron Dummigan released Kelly up the left, who in turn played the ball across for the inrushing McEleney. The Derry man then did well to hold off Roberto Lopes before firing high to the net past Alan Mannus.
Dundalk’s good start was undone by yet another defensive mix-up just three minutes later though. A scuffed shot from Scales was spilled by Abibi with Chris Shields unable to clear properly under pressure from Lopes with O’Brien on hand to profit for the simplest of tap-ins.
Rory Gaffney then had an effort blocked at close range by Shields before the home side had penaty appeals turned down on 24 minutes after Kelly went down when challenged by his old teammate Sean Gannon.
Mannus then came to Rovers’ rescue on 32 minutes when he got down well to his right to keep out a half volley from Michael Duffy, who had been picked out by McEleney.
Having faded slightly in terms of attacking threat late in the first half, Rovers came out with all guns blazing on the restart only to be denied twice by the woodwork in quick succession.
Moments after having an effort saved by Abibi, Aaron Greene broke free up the left on 48 minutes from Scales’ pass to lob Abibi only for his effort to take a wicked bounce to strike the crossbar.
Then five minutes later Graham Burke cut in from the right on his left foot only to see his fierce strike cannon back off the inside of the post.
Those misses were to prove costly as Kelly restored Dundalk’s lead with a stunning strike on 59 minutes when he found space to the right of the penalty area before drilling a superb shot past Mannus to make it 2-1.
Despite plenty of pressure from the visitors after that it would be their opponents who would seriously threaten next on 72 minutes when Duffy cut in from the right past four Rovers players only to see his shot go straight down the throat of Mannus.
Both sides then had good chances at either end with Danny Mandriou having a free kick turned around the post by Abibi on 80 minutes before Raivis Jurkovskis curled a fierce effort just wide two minutes later.
Substitute Ole Erik Midtskogen then failed to take a big opportunity to close the game out with six minutes remaining when he found space in the box only to be denied by a superb stop from Mannus.
Greene then saw a header shave the outside of the post in the 89th minute after being left unmarked from Mandriou’s cross.
Joey O’Brien then had a 94th minute header scrambled off the line as Dundalk held out for a win which they hope will kick start their season.
Finn Harps 0-1 Drogheda United
Dane Massey struck a dramatic winning free-kick with the last play of the match at Finn Park – and it was no more than Drogheda United deserved.
In the last minute, Luke Heeney saw red for a challenge on Finn Harps substitute Babatunde Owolabi, who was leading a breakaway and in injury time Dave Webster was also dismissed, in his case for a second yellow having fouled Chris Lyons.
The decision was debatable, but Massey deserves huge credit for his superb 95th-minute effort which went in off the underside of the crossbar.
For Drogheda it looked like it was going the be one of those nights. Mark Anthony McGinley in the Harps goal was in inspired form.
Both teams had made commendable starts to the campaign, with Tim Clancy’s visitors unbeaten now in five and, before tonight, Harps having only lost to the top three of Shamrock Rovers, Sligo Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic in their first 11 fixtures.
Both haven’t got to where they’ve got from shirking physicality and that was a facet of the contest at a blustery Ballybofey, where newly-promoted Drogheda more than held their own against Ollie Horgan’s team, whose top cement in the top flight is that little bit harder.
Drogheda shaded the first quarter with David Odumosu not tested until the 20th minute when making a routine save from Adam Foley, whose manager Ollie Horgan was serving the second of his three-match touchline ban following his dismissal against Shamrock Rovers last month.
Conor Kane’s free-kick on 38 minutes was barely half-cleared by the shoulder of Ethan Boyle and Mark Doyle’s stab at goal was brilliantly saved by McGinley – the Harps goalkeeper continuing the excellent form that helped his side to a point in the 1-1 draw with Dundalk last week.
The tea queues hadn’t dispersed by the start of the second half when McGinley had to made two more outstanding stops.
Firstly, Murray gave him the eyes and the impression of centering a free-kick only to swing it at goal and McGinley scrambled away and then, in the 49th minute, the former Donegal Gaelic fooball netminder was at full stretch to tip over Doyle’s header.
Harps substitute Conor Barry was barely on a field two minutes before he improved to twist a nice effort with the outside of the boot just wide of the River End goal, with Foley giving and going. Harps, though, didn’t really test Odumosu but looked to have scraped a draw. Massey had other ideas.
Sligo Rovers 2-0 Longford Town
Goals in either half from Walter Figueira and Jordan Gibson saw Sligo Rovers beat Longford Town 2-0.
Rovers emerged victorious in the last meeting of these two sides earlier this year, Garry Buckley’s goal early in the second half sealing a narrow win for Sligo on the road.
Both sides produced efforts from distance early on in a scrappy opening half. Rob Manley blasted over the Sligo crossbar before stand-in midfielder Lewis Banks shot straight at Town goalkeeper Micheal Kelly five minutes later.
Daire Doyle’s charges went close to taking the lead on 12 minutes. Dylan Grimes’ effort from six yards looped over Ed McGinty’s crossbar after Grimes had met Aaron Robinson’s pull back from the end line.
On the look-out for win number seven of the season, Figueira led the way for Rovers when he struck for his second of the season on 17 minutes.
Longford net-minder Kelly got a palm to the former Derry attacker’s shot from 20 yards, but what seemed like a wicked spin had Kelly caught out as he could only push the ball into the corner of his own net.
Kelly did well to deny Sligo a two-goal lead at the break when he pulled of an impressive reaction save to keep out Ryan De Vries, after the New Zealander had dodged his way past two Longford challenges.
Liam Buckley’s side rode their luck again on ’35 as they allowed Aaron Dobbs to roam free at a Grimes corner. The accuracy of Dobbs’ header didn’t match the well-timed leap as his effort flashed past the target.
The visitors were somewhat unfortunate to concede a penalty just shy of the hour, when the ball bounced on to the hand of full-back Paddy Kirk following a Rovers corner.
Gibson tucking the ball past Kelly from the resulting spot kick for his fifth goal of the season.
Kelly was equal to Figueira’s effort from the angle on 67 minutes as Sligo looked to kill off any sign of a Longford revival.
McGinty easily held on to Town skipper Aodh Dervin’s set piece off the in-step 11 minutes from time. Sligo held on to go within two points of leaders Shamrock Rovers.
Bohemians 5-1 Dundalk
Former Lilywhite Georgie Kelly bagged a hat-trick as Bohemians decimated shambolic Dundalk in the Dalymount sunshine on an evening both sides suffered dismissals.
This game was over as a contest after Kelly’s second on 50 minutes, Tyreke Wilson having gotten Bohs’ second, but the last-named gave the visitors some hope when he subsequently saw red.
However, Kelly made it safe with his third, before a fine Greg Sloggett strike made the scoreline a shade less humiliating for the visitors on 80 minutes, by which time Cameron Dummigan had also seen red.
Promise Omochere made it 5-1 with the last kick of the game.
Dundalk, who ended Shamrock Rovers’ historic unbeaten run on Friday, were more like the rabble they’ve become here, but even the most staunch critic of the current Dundalk couldn’t have envisaged how insipid they were.
Bohs just had to tog out, clock in and out and wonder, like us all, how a club with the money and playing talent Dundalk have could come to this.
Bohs opened the scoring when the ever-busy Ross Tierney ran onto a Liam Burt pass. He found Kelly who, having started the counter-attack, placed the ball nicely past a static Alessio Abibi.
It was 2-0 four minutes later, the classy Tyreke Wilson, having established himself as a regular starter now for Bohs, curling a beautiful free-kick into the top corner.
Burt has proved a terrific addition for the Gypsies and 20 minutes in, their swagger apparent, he drilled one wide with Abibi unlikely to have gotten down had it been on target.
Dundalk got on top then and really should have scored on the half hour. Patrick McEleney, who was hugely influential when in possession, struck a beautiful cross which David McMillan, unusually, made a mess of from close in.
In the next attack, Tierney forced Abibi to tip over somewhat theatrically. As expected, this was lively, as was Dawson Deboy on 34 minutes, his left-foot curler edging beyond Abibi but also his left-hand post.
After the hitherto anonymous Michael Duffy saw his free-kick curl wide, Burt played Kelly in on 50 minutes. Against the club he left last year, Kelly had a simple task to place beyond Abibi.
Bohs were reduced to 10 men shortly afterwards, with Wilson fouling Kelly and getting a second yellow. From the free-kick, Wilfred Zahibo missed a sitter of a header when looking offside. He was subsequently replaced.
Duffy failed to trouble Talbot and one sensed that Dundalk needed to score before the 70th minute to give themselves a chance.
Instead it was Kelly who scored again, heading home on 64 minutes from an Ali Coote free.
Dundalk had more shame to endure, Dummigan heading for the showers before even looking to see had he, indeed, seen yellow for the second time, having pulled back Burt with 16 minutes left.
Some feeble Dundalk attacks came to nothing, much like their season is headed on this sorry evidence, before Sloggett tried his luck from around 25 yards and left Talbot reeling.
Chris Shields could have seen red for kicking out at Burt with time running out. Shields is being linked with a move away from Dundalk, having lost his form this season. He’s not alone.
Omochere faced no resistance to make it five in injury time.
Derry City 2-2 St. Patrick’s Athletic
A late Billy King goal earned St Patrick’s Athletic a deserved point at Derry City.
After taking the lead thanks to Lee Desmond’s goal, which was quickly cancelled out by Ronan Boyce, it was the home side who went in front through Joe Thomson’s stunning drive on 60 minutes.
However, King’s late header ended the scoring in an entertaining clash, at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
On five minutes a super cross field ball from St Pat’s left-back Desmond found King, but the midfielder, who had ghosted in behind Ciaran Coll, blasted over the bar.
The Saints took the lead on 23 minutes as a John Mountney inswinging corner was only punched high up into the lead by Derry keeper Nathan Gartside and Desmond rose highest to head home the loose ball.
Derry levelled things in somewhat controversial circumstances as Boyce bundled home the ball from close range and the goal was given despite St Pat’s keeper Vitezslav Jaros complaining that he was fouled by Cameron McJannet.
The woodwork came to Derry’s rescue just after the half hour mark as Robbie Benson’s well hit drive from just inside the box, which had Gartside beaten, clipped the crossbar.
St Pat’s midfielder Chris Forrester went close on 48 minutes, but his 20-yard strike, which had Gartside scrambling, whistled just over the bar.
Just before the hour mark a clever ball over the top by Ciaron Harkin released David Parkhouse, the big striker did well to turn Sam Bone inside out, but failed to trouble Jaros and blasted over.
Derry took the lead on 68 minutes in superb fashion as midfielder Thomson saw his 25-yard low drive through a ruck of players, flying into Jaros’ bottom right-hand corner.
Stephen O’Donnell’s side levelled on 85 minutes as substitute Ben McCormack’s teasing right wing cross found the lively King and the winger made no mistake powerfully heading home at the back post.
Derry came close to winning the game in the closing stages as James Akintunde got away from Bone but his left footed cross-cum-shot flashed across the six yard, inches away from Thomson.
Right at the death a super Benson corner from the right found Mountney, but the ex-Dundalk man somehow headed over from close range.
Waterford 1-2 Finn Harps
Adam Foley got Finn Harps back to winning ways by coming off the bench and scoring to inflict a fifth straight defeat on bottom side Waterford FC.
Marc Bircham’s Blues led at the RSC through Jamie Mascoll’s third-minute opener, only for Barry McNamee to equalise with a penalty on 75 before substitute Foley completed the comeback less than a minute later.
Still missing a clutch of players due to a recent Covid-19 outbreak at the club, Bircham made just one change from the side beaten 1-0 by Derry City on Friday.
Cian Kavanagh recovered from a broken wrist to come on in that match and did enough to dislodge Eric Molloy.
For Harps, Johnny Dunleavy came in for the suspended Dave Webster while Mark Russell, Tunde Owolabi, Sean Boyd also got the nod from Ollie Horgan, who was sitting in the stand serving the last match of his touchline ban.
Teen striker Kavanagh made an instant impression by playing his part in ending Waterford’s near eight-hour goal drought.
Defender Mascoll started the move by finding Adam O’Reilly in midfield and he swept the ball onto Kavanagh.
Spotting Mascoll continuing his run, the tall forward freed the full-back, who raided into the box and slotted his shot inside Mark McGinley’s near post.
Harps’ stand-in skipper Barry McNamee squandered their first chance on nine minutes by blazing over after goalkeeper Brian Murphy was caught outside of the box, while the unmarked Josh Collins was also wasteful at the other end by firing straight at McGinley.
After belatedly getting a grip in midfield, the visitors dominated the closing stages of the half without making it count.
Boyd, starting ahead of Foley, saw his close-range header on the half hour denied by a brilliant save from Murphy.
His strike partner Tunde Owolabi then created but missed a hat-trick of chances. Firstly, he had a goal disallowed for shoving Darragh Power on his way into the box before Murphy batted away his stinging snapshot. He beat the Blues keeper on the stroke of the break, only to angle his curler a yard wide.
The one-way traffic continued after the break, with Waterford sitting deeper. On the hour, Owolabi shook off Collins to tee up Boyd in space but Murphy was again equal to the rising shot.
Ethan Boyle headed over from two yards as the pressure intensified and the inevitable turnaround loomed.
It started when they were awarded a penalty for Power’s mistimed challenge on Owolabi, allowing McNamee to convert his penalty down the middle of Murphy’s goal.
Harps then hit the front less than 60 seconds later. Once Waterford lost possession in midfield, Foley charged past Cameron Evans from the halfway line before drilling a low shot across Murphy into the far corner from an acute angle.
That swift concession deflated the battling Blues, whose only opportunity to eke out a draw came in stoppage time through substitute Molloy but he was thwarted in the air by McGinley.
Drogheda United 4-1 Longford Town
Jordan Adeyemo’s late brace sealed a hard fought win for high-flying Drogheda United against struggling Longford Town.
United, who close the gap on third place, were full value for their win but had been given a fright by the visitors who hit back after going in at the break two goals down.
Ronan Murray’s free-kick and Mark Doyle’s finish had Drogheda in command before Aaron Dobbs pulled one back. Adeyemo’s superb 10-minute cameo helped sharp-shooting Drogheda over the line.
Gary Deegan’s return from suspension offset the loss of Luke Heeney after his red card late on against Finn Harps. Drogs captain Jake Hyland missed out for the second successive game.
Daire Doyle made five changes as they sought to win for the first time since the opening day of the season. Credible draws against Dundalk and away to Derry suggest his team were getting to grips with their top flight assignment. However, back-to-back defeats have left the Town adrift of the sides immediately above them.
Ex-Drogheda forward Rob Manley and goalkeeper Michael Kelly were among those taken out. Lee Steacy and captain Dean Zambra returned, while Conor Davis was handed a first start of the season.
While Drogheda, who are the Premier Division’s top goalscorers, beat Longford 4-0 in the first meeting of the sides last month, the visitors had enjoyed themselves on Boyneside recently – winning both of their previous trips 1-0.
A repeat success would have taken a considerable reversal of fortunes as the promoted sides have experienced radically different returns to the top flight this term.
United had all of the chances in a first half that dominated, if not in possession, certainly when it came to posing a danger to their opponents goal. Chris Lyons headed wide twice before he squared for Darragh Markey but the winger couldn’t control his effort.
Dane Massey, with four goals in three games, headed over when he met Murray’s corner shortly before the opener.
Murray’s free kick from the left fooled the Longford defence, who might have expected a cross, and Steacy in particular. His right-footed hit crept into the top corner at Steacy’s near post. The goalkeeper got hands to the ball but was ultimately powerless to stop it.
Another Murray delivery almost lead to a quick Drogheda second before the home team doubled their advantage just before half time.
James Brown continues to stake his claim for the best attacking right back in the country. He was released down the right and he crossed for Doyle. The 22-year-old spun Aaron O’Driscoll and managed to squeeze a shot under Steacy from a tight ankle. It trickled into an unguarded net.
Longford emerged for the second half with a vigour and purpose seriously lacking before the break. They halved the deficit within eight minutes when Aaron Dobbs tapped in. Sensing an opportunity perhaps, Doyle introduced Rob Manley in attack.
But they created little bar a Dylan Grimes shot blocked by Brown. Adeyemo cut inside and finished smartly before adding a second in injury time.
Shamrock Rovers 0-1 Sligo Rovers
Shamrock Rovers suffered their first home defeat since June 2019 as Romeo Parkes fired Sligo Rovers to the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table.
The only goal of the game arrived on the 55th minute when Jordan Gibson unleashed Parkes goalwards with an incisive through pass.
There were sheepish shouts for offside as the 30-year-old Jamaican striker surged towards goal, however, the assistant kept his flag down as Parkes stuck the ball past Alan Mannus.
Stephen Bradley’s side have now lost their last two games, prior to this, Rovers were boasting a 33-game unbeaten league run – a streak which has now come to a screeching stop.
The victory was Sligo’s first win at Tallaght Stadium since October 2013 and maintained their unbeaten start away from home this season.
While the Hoops are used to dominating possession at home, Sligo were set up in a 3-4-3 eager to show that they were able to hold their own in the battle for the ball.
Both sides exploited the dry conditions and blemish-free pitch to work the ball around each other but produced little in the way of goal-scoring opportunities in the first half.
However, it was the visitors who looked the better of the sides. Walter Figueira and Greg Bolger took a series of shots from outside the box after spells of Sligo possession but neither were close to troubling Mannus.
The hosts had a penalty shout before the break, when Graham Burke went down from a Garry Buckley tackle in the box.
The roars originated from Bradley on the sideline more than they did from Burke, but after a long look Neil Doyle judged Buckley to have cleanly won possession.
If the first half was slow at times, the second half started in lightning fashion. A minute into the half, Doyle was again waving away urgent Shamrock Rovers pleadings for a penalty.
The Hoops players argued that the ball had struck a Sligo hand in the box before it went out for a corner but Doyle again held firm.
A moment later, Bolger dispossessed Burke, allowing him to surge into the host’s half with a five on two scenario in Sligo’s favour.
The Bit O’Red captain switched it to Gibson who fired a vicious shot that went just wide of the near post.
The Dubliners struck back with a chance of their own when Rory Gaffney played Aaron Greene through on goal but Ed McGinty came charging from his goal to smother the danger.
Sligo finally broke the deadlock five minutes later.
Liam Scales made the mistake attempting to leave Parkes in an offside position, but it was Gibson’s vision which capitalised on the mistake as he pushed the ball perfectly in his team-mate’s path towards goal.
Scales’ arm went up for the offside but the assistant’s didn’t, meanwhile, Parkes scored his third league goal of the season.
The league champions struggled to claw back possession for most of the second half as Liam Buckley’s side proved first to every ball.
Burke came closest to scoring on the 80th minute when he struck a curling shot from inside the box, which fizzed just wide of McGinty’s goal.
Ultimately it was Sligo Rovers’ night as they departed westwards with all three points and another important scalp.
This weekend’s fixtures:
Friday 28th May
- Finn Harps v Sligo Rovers
- Drogheda United v Derry City
- St. Patrick’s Athletic v Dundalk
Saturday 29th May
- Bohemians v Waterford FC
- Longford Town v Shamrock Rovers
Athlone 2-1 Cobh Ramblers
Cork City 1-1 Galway United
Maurice Nugent’s last-minute header was enough to earn ten-man Galway United a point as they held Cork City to a 1-1 draw on John Caulfield’s return to Turner’s Cross on Friday evening.
Jack Baxter’s stunning volley – his first goal for the club – looked to have won it for City but Nugent’s late finish from close range proved to be enough to snatch a share of the spoils for Galway, who had Stephen Walsh sent off before half-time.
Colin Healy stuck with the same 3-5-2 that helped his side earn a scoreless draw away to league leaders UCD last time out although he did make two personnel changes with captain Geariód Morrissey and Beineón O’Brien replacing the injured Alec Byrne and Jack Walsh, who dropped to the bench.
The home side started confidently and they threatened to take the lead inside the opening minutes but the lively Cian Bargary fired low at goalkeeper Conor Kearns following a quick counter-attack.
City were dealt a blow moments later though as Ronan Hurley was forced to withdraw with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, providing Dylan McGlade the chance to make an impression.
The Leesiders’ best move in the first half came on the quarter of an hour mark. Gearóid Morrissey pressed and reclaimed possession high up the pitch.
Beineón O’Brien-Whitmarsh soon took over and teed up Cian Murphy inside the area but the forward dragged his shot wide of the far bottom left corner.
Similar to his counterpart, Galway manager John Caulfield also made two changes following last week’s narrow 1-0 victory over bottom club Wexford.
David Hurley was awarded for his match-winning finish as he and Mikey Place came in for Shane Duggan and Mikie Rowe, both of whom had to settle for a place on the bench.
Caulfield was making his first return to the Turner’s Cross dugouts since leaving City – the club he managed to a league and FAI Cup triumph – back in 2019.
It wasn’t until midway through the first period that they created their first opportunity and it almost resulted in the first goal of the game.
Gary Boylan’s cross from the right flank found Mikey Place in space inside the penalty area but his volley was well saved at his far bottom left corner by goalkeeper Mark McNulty.
David Hurley twice went close as the interval approached but after blasting over former City skipper Conor McCormack’s short free, he saw an effort from the edge of the box deflect just wide of the left post with McNulty beaten.
But the visitors were then dealt a huge blow shortly before the half-time break as left back Stephen Walsh was shown a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident while his assistant manager Johnny Glynn was also dismissed for his protestations.
Despite the man disadvantage, United still remained in control of proceedings and they created the best chances at the beginning of the second 45.
Padraic Cunningham was unfortunate to see an attempt deflect narrowly wide before Place’s swerving strike from distance needed saving by McNulty. Sandwiched in between those near misses Carlton Ubaezunou thought he had broken the deadlock but his celebrations were cut short as the linesman flagged for offside.
The encounter became scrappy as the minutes ticked on although Dylan McGlade almost provided a spark with a quarter of an hour remaining but he blasted Cian Coleman’s knockdown over before his long-range hit whistled wide of the right post.
But City midfielder Jack Baxter would do better with his volley with ten minutes to go as he expertly controlled his shot and drilled the ball into the bottom right corner of the net in front of an empty Shed End.
It looked like it would be the winner but City would concede an equaliser and their first goal in four games when Maurice Nugent stopped to head into the far corner from close range in the 90th minute.
Wexford FC 0-1 Bray Wanderers
Joe Doyle’s strike two minutes before the interval settled this tight game in favour of Wanderers who recorded their third league win in a row.
Wanderers made one change to the starting line up from the team that defeated Cabinteely FC last week with Steven Kinsella starting in place of Luka Lovic.
The home side had the first chance of the game on seven minutes. Kyle Robinson did well down the left and got a shot on goal which Maher saved comfortably. Wanderers responded and Richie O’Keeffe’s shot from the edge of the area was deflected out for a corner on twelve minutes.
Ryan Graydon got in on the left on 22 minutes and his chip was met by a Joe Doyle header which forced Corcoran into a save. Doyle had the next chance when he turned on the edge of the area, but his snapshot was straight at the keeper. O’Farrell’s cross from the left just missed the head of Doyle but was met by Kinsella at the back post on 41 minutes but he shot over the bar when well placed.
Wanderers struck two minutes before the break. Brandon Kavanagh picked up a loose ball on the right and found Doyle just inside the area. The striker controlled the ball and finished neatly to the top corner of the net.
Wanderers survived a goalmouth scramble on 53 minutes in a second half that was void of any goal chances.
Cabinteely 2-1 Treaty United
Five minutes either side of half time provided all the excitement as Cabinteely ran out 2-1 winners in a hard fought battle against Treaty United.
The Limerick side’s red and white strip, making its first outing at Stradbrook, saw a cagey start to the match with neither side able to impose themselves on the match.
A shift in formation for Cabo saw Dean Casey return to the left wing where he’s looked most threatening this year as Green Line graduate Zak O’Neill showed his versatility filling in at right back.
Cabo did have the best of the early opportunities as Alex Aspil, in search of his first club goal, cannoned his effort off the crossbar in the 14th minute.
Treaty’s Kieran Hanlon took a similar approach but neither of his first half long-range efforts troubled Ben Clark in the Cabinteely goal.
Just as it appeared the sides were about to enter the break even Kieran Marty Waters, Cabo’s record goal scorer, popped up to get his first goal of the season. Ben Clark’s goal kick was flicked on by a leaping Labutis in midfield to release Waters, who took one touch past a stranded Tadgh Ryan at the edge of the box before he guided a left footed effort into the open goal.
Cabo’s lead was short lived after half time as Treaty found an equaliser three minutes into the second half. Edward McCarthy’s first time cross from the right was parried by a diving Harry Halwax (who had replaced an injured Ben Clark in the Cabo goal at half time) but fell at the feet of Sean McSweeney just inside the Cabo box. McSweeney’s effort was on target with Mitchell Byrne standing on the line not being able to prevent it going in.
The parity lasted less time than Cabo’s original lead as their advantage was restored within two minutes. McSweeney, in search of a second, had a shot from distance well saved by Halwax. Zak O’Neill at right back went long in search of Waters who flicked on to Jordan Payne striding down the right wing.
Payne cut inside and his shot was palmed onto the crossbar by Tadgh Ryan. Ben Hanrahan was beaten by the rebound but Vilius Labutis charging in from centre midfield was on hand to nod the ball home.
Cabo had a chance to further their advantage just two minutes later again when Alex Aspil slipped through Waters who once again found himself one on one with Ryan. This time however Waters could only watch as his effort rolled across goal and past the far post.
The home side remained in control in the second half with both Luke McWilliams and substitute Jem Campion unable to turn good heading opportunities into efforts on target.
Halwax, the Derby loanee, remained untroubled for the remainder of his first appearance at Cabinteely as they ended the first round of fixtures with five wins and very much in the hunt for that much coveted playoff spot.
They’ll hope to continue winning ways when they welcome Wexford, under new manager Ian Ryan, to Stradbrook next week.
Treaty, who have certianly impressed in their first season in the league, will hope to keep their own playoff hunt going next week as they welcome Bray to the Market’s Field.
Shelbourne 3-1 UCD
Shelbourne maintained their unbeaten start to their First Division campaign on Friday evening thanks to a comfortable 3-1 win at home to promotion rivals UCD.
A brace from Ryan Brennan and a first-half opener from John Ross Wilson gave Shels the platform to extend their lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of the Students.
Harvey O’Brien did end up scoring for the visitors – although the County Mayo native’s strike proved to be only a consolation in the end.
UCD came into the game after being held to a scoreless draw by Cork City at the Belfield Bowl last weekend.
Ian Morris’ charges almost took an early, impromptu lead. O’Brien’s misplaced header almost beat Lorcan Healy at his back-post, but the English-born ‘keeper got down well to deny Shels.
The Reds maintained their good start – and they had calls for a penalty dismissed as Shane Farrell was booked for simulation in the fifth minute.
Ryan Brennan then went close for the hosts in the 17th minute – but Healy once again got down well to batt away the Drogheda native’s acrobatic effort on goal.
The former Drogheda United and St. Patrick’s Athletic playmaker was found by Shane Farrell’s tantalising cross – but he could not convert.
However, Shels were not to be denied – and they took a richly-deserved lead mid way through the half through John Ross Wilson.
He found himself free at the back post following Kevin O’Connor’s inswinging ball into the box to nod home.
And UCD’s deficiencies at set-pieces reared its head again moments later as Brennan doubled the hosts’ lead.
The former Drogheda United playmaker was found free in the six-yard box by another one of O’Connor’s great balls into the box – heading past UCD ‘keeper Healy with relative ease.
Brennan then almost grabbed a third before the half-hour mark, but he was adjudged to have been offside after he was slipped in by Yoyo Mahdy’s deft through ball.
But UCD were handed a lifeline in the 41st minute of the game as O’Brien smacked home from close range after Shels could not deal with Evan Weir’s free-kick.
However, that opening was quickly dashed as Brennan headed home his second of the night at the near post.
The 29-year-old beat Healy to the ball at the near-post, giving Shels a 3-1 lead the break in a surreal first-half that saw each goal come from a set-piece.
UCD started the second-half the better of the two teams – but they were perhaps fortunate to stay with ten-men on the pitch.
Referee Gavin Colfer looked to have had his red card ready to brandish to Sam Todd – but he opted to give the Donegal native a booking after his challenge on Farrell for the hosts.
But the Students once again struggled to break down the hosts – although they did have a welcome sight as Evan Osam made his long-awaited return, albeit off the bench in a dour second-half.
However, not even Osam’s keenly awaited return could inspire a UCD fightback as the Reds maintained their unbeaten start to the season – and secured their fourth win in five games ahead of next weekend’s mouth-watering clash at home to a struggling Galway United.
This weekend’s fixtures:
Friday 28th May
- Cabineely v Wexford FC
- Cobh Ramblers v Cork City
- Treaty United v Bray Wanderers
- Athlone Town v UCD
- Shelbourne FC v Galway United
Shelbourne are showing the quality that has them as favourites to earn a place back in the top flight. However the race for the playoff places is incredibly tight with very little separating the sides involved. They have all faced each other once at this stage and Treaty United have to be singled out for attention. The new entrants to the league have shown plenty of heart and have their sights set on earning a place in the playoffs.
The Greatest League in the World continues to surprise us all so be sure to check back next week for the latest round of results.