Sligo sit top at mid-season break – LOI Lowdown

After a frantic start the Greatest League in the World will pause for the midseason break giving players and management staff a much needed rest.

Before the players got to enjoy that rest however there was the small matter of a round of fixtures to play. Let’s get into the action

Premier Division

Finn Harps 1-2 Sligo Rovers

Lewis Banks volleyed league leaders Sligo Rovers to victory in an action-packed north-west derby against Finn Harps in Ballybofey.

Harry McCourt’s corner on the hour proved to be something of an ordeal for the home defence and despite having a couple of bites at it, Harps failed to clear and Banks finished emphatically when it finally came his way, volleying home left-footed.

The latter stages dragged for the away team, with Romeo Parkes, the scorer of the opening goal, given a straight red card by match referee Paul McLaughlin just two minutes later for a clash with Kosovar Sadiki by the corner flag.

Liam Buckey’s Sligo, fresh from an excellent 1-0 win at Shamrock Rovers on Monday night with Parkes scoring the only goal, took the lead in Ballybofey only five minutes in only for Babatunde Owolabi to level within a minute.

Parkes steered home from 12 yards after Mark Anthony McGinley in the Harps goal only partially punched clear from another McCourt delivery from a corner.

Fifty seconds later, still in the fifth minute, the sides were level with Owolabi tucked home his first goal for Harps. It came following an Adam Foley centre from the left and was placed past Ed McGinty from six yards after a loose pass in midfield from Jordan Gibson.

Ollie Horgan was back on the bench for Harps following his three-match ban having been sent off against Shamrock Rovers last month and would’ve been encouraged by the performance of his team and Owolabi in particular.

The Belgian, formerly of FC United, was proving a real handful and drew a fine stop from McGinty in the 20th minute before attempting an overhead kick from the rebound, which went just over the crossbar.

He also missed a glorious chance from a one-on-one right before the break, as well as having two goals disallowed.

Sligo might’ve edged ahead themselves on the half-hour, with Mark Byrne sneaking in at the back post but unable to keep his volley down from Greg Bolger’s free that was screaming for a decisive touch.

So, 1-1 at the break and Foley, the league’s joint-top scorer alongside Mark Doyle of Drogheda United and Bohemian’s Georgie Kelly, shot just wide at the start of the second period.

But when it looked like Harps were the most likely, Banks powered Sligo 2-1 in front much to the delight of their vocal support outside of the perimeter fence, before Parke’s dismissal.

The in-form Jordan Gibson almost made it three with Sligo looking stern at the back from a blistering shot from the edge of the area eight minutes from time, only for McGinley to make a superb one-handed save to tip over.

At the other end, two minutes past the 90, 10-man Sligo had McGinty to thank for a great save from substitute Sean Boys’ header.

Drogheda United 1-2 Derry City

A brace of free-kicks from the on-loan Will Patching earned Derry City another away day success at Head In the Game Park – which will inevitably lead to questions about the playmaker’s immediate future.

The Englishman is on loan at City from Dundalk and Jim Magilton suggested in midweek that he may be recalled to Oriel Park next month as the Lilywhites reassess their own squad.

His performance back in County Louth on Friday night may help make that decision for Magilton, but Derry will surely move to keep him at the Brandywell.

His strikes came either side of Mark Doyle’s penalty, which briefly levelled the scores in the second half.

Referee Adriano Reale harshly showed two bookings to subs Darren Cole and Jordan Adeyemo late on, leaving both sides with just 10 men.

The Candystripes arrived on Boyneside unbeaten in four away games since Ruaidhri Higgins’ appointment last month, winning three of those. United’s own excellent home record was under threat.

City started well and Patching forced David Odumosu into a save inside 90 seconds of kick-off. The goalkeeper was equal to his shot from 20 yards before David Parkhouse skewed the loose ball wide.

Drogheda’s first effort on goal arrived when Ciaran Coll felled James Brown. Dane Massey, with four goals in his last four games, hit his free-kick on target but Nathan Gartside palmed over.

Patching’s opening goal was just rewards for their bright side. It arrived when the on-loan Dundalk playmaker fooled goalkeeper David Odumosu and the United defence with a free-kick. With everyone awaiting a cross from the right, Patching curled the ball into a large area of the net vacated by the young stopper.

Odumosu looked slow to react as the ball headed for goal too, perhaps grounded by the surprise of Patching’s effort or expecting the ball to fly past the post.

Perhaps Patching had been watching on Monday when Ronan Murray had broken the deadlock against Longford in similar fashion but this time, Drogheda were the team made to look foolish.

Joe Thompson dragged a shot wide but Derry’s strong start soon faded and the home team grew into the game. Daniel O’Reilly’s header was blocked on the line by Thompson.

Moments later, however, the United centre-back failed to connect with a bouncing ball and James Akintunde ran through on goal. The Londoner’s tame left-footed shot was wide.

Murray’s long-range shot straight after the break showed Drogheda’s intent and their equaliser duly arrived. Cameron McJannet blocked O’Reilly’s header with his arm and Mark Doyle put his spot-kick down the middle.

His seventh goal of the campaign put him at the top of the goalscoring charts outright. But that will be scant consolation as United’s lead didn’t last.

In a similar position to his goal in the first half, Patching produced a strike that beat Odumosu all ends up. It crashed down off the bar before McJannet made sure but it looked to have crossed the line.

Cole’s cameo lasted just nine minutes, after he picked up two yellow cards from referee Adriano Reale. There were no complaints from the Derry bench. Reale even had time to even it up late on, showing another sub Adeyemo a second yellow card when he went down in the area.

Both managers on the touchline agreed neither deserved to be sent off. Mark Doyle flashed a last gasp effort across the Derry goal but the visitors held out.

St. Patrick’s Athletic 0-2 Dundalk

Dundalk’s rollercoaster season took another twist as they produced a clinical display to take all three points away to St Patrick’s Athletic.

Five days after their last trip to Dublin, when Bohemians served up some capital punishment with a 5-1 trouncing, the Lilywhites responded by keeping just their second clean sheet of the season to secure a 2-0 win.

Sam Bone deflected David McMillan’s wayward shot into his own net after 36 minutes before the Dundalk forward’s clever movement in the box gifted him an easy second five minutes after the break.

They remain 14 points adrift of pace setters Sligo Rovers at the top, with 14 games played, while Pat’s missed the chance to leapfrog Shamrock Rovers into second as they sit rigid in third, six off the leaders.

The resilience and togetherness on show here should be the template for a Dundalk revival. Whether they can maintain any kind of consistency is another question. Another is who exactly will be in charge, with temporary boss Jim Magilton continuing to direct matters from the line.

He threatened a clear out of players following the Bohs debacle and set up with two banks of four here in order to be compact and resolute. It worked a treat, with only half chances for Mattie Smith and John Mountney in the first half.

The former cushioned a tame header into the welcome arms of Alessio Abibi, the latter hitting a shot from the edge of the box that dribbled harmlessly wide.

Then the momentum shifted courtesy of the first piece of attacking quality. Pat’s head coach Stevie O’Donnell will rue the defensive lapses that played a part in Bone turning the ball into his own net nine minutes before the break but the sharpness of the build up play was top class.

Pat Hoban dinked a delightful ball over the top from near the left touchline after both Bone and Paddy Barrett were drawn to him.

Michael Duffy raced onto it, drove towards the box before deciding to check for a square pass to Patrick McEleney at the edge of the box. His fellow Derryman opened his body to slide it into the path of McMillan and his dragged shot – the one lack of precision in the move – was turned into his own net by Bone.

It was a sucker punch for the Saints and, five minutes after the re-start, they were again undone by a combination of Hoban and McMillan. This time it was the latter’s clever movement in the six-yard box that created the space for an easy finish to the roof of the net.

Hoban was the provider, springing the offside trap to race on to Chris Shields’ through ball down the right channel between left wing back Ian Bermingham and left-side centre back Lee Desmond.

Bone was dragged to the near post after being fooled by McMillan’s sharp feint. Instead he dropped to centre and finished calmly.

The instincts were sharp and the benefits of playing with a pairing up front were clear to see.

Four minutes later and McMillan made an equally telling contribution on his own goal line, heading Barrett’s effort clear from a corner.

Dundalk again retreated, happy to let Pat’s have the ball in front and keep them at arm’s length. They succeeded, taking all three points and keeping a clean sheet in the process as their season takes another twist.

Bohemians 3-0 Waterford FC

Bohemians continued their fine run of form with their fourth win in five games as they cruised past bottom-of-the-table Waterford at Dalymount.

Two goals in four minutes just before half time, courtesy of new Ireland Under-21 call-up Dawson Devoy and Ross Tierney, set the home side on their way to a resounding victory.

Andy Lyons added a third in the final quarter after the Blues had been reduced to ten men as substitute Isaac Tshipamba saw red for a mistimed tackle on Ciaran Kelly.

The scoreline wasn’t fully reflective of the home side’s dominance as former Gypsies keeper Brian Murphy pulled off a string of fine saves to keep the margin respectable.

Bohs had already given warning of their attacking mood in the opening minutes as Ali Coote found space on the right, but his deep cross was just too high for Conor Levingston.

Levingston made perfect connection shortly after as he sent a powerful left-footed volley arrowing toward the corner, only for Murphy to pull off a wonderful save to deny the Wexford native.

Keith Long’s side continued to make hay down the right and Lyons picked out Devoy in space, and his cross seemed set to be turned home by Georgie Kelly but Cameron Evans did brilliantly to cover.

Devoy had two efforts from the edge of the box, one saved by Murphy and another inches wide of the target, while a rare Blues chance from a corner routine saw Shane Griffin’s shot blocked.

The visitors couldn’t hang on to the break, however, and another one-touch move saw Lyons in acres of space on the right, and he cut back for the arriving Devoy to sweep home.

Four minutes later, it was 2-0 as Murphy turned over an Anto Breslin free kick. The resulting corner wasn’t cleared, and Rory Feely nodded into the path of Tierney to bury his header.

It would have been three before the break but for the intervention of Murphy as he stuck out a long leg to turn away Lyons’ goalbound effort.

Blues boss Marc Bircham made two changes at the break, with Cian Kavanagh and Tshipamba introduced for the yellow-carded Darragh Power and John Martin.

It did little to halt the momentum, though Tshipamba had a great chance following a Rory Feely mistake but, with Shane Griffin better placed, he aimed a tame shot at James Talbot.

The winger saw red shortly afterwards as he collided awkwardly with Ciaran Kelly, leaving the defender in some distress, and the home side took advantage of the numbers to make it 3-0.

The chance appeared to be gone when Georgie Kelly’s lay-off ran away from Liam Burt, but the striker regrouped and played in Lyons to finish well from a tight angle.

Longford Town 1-0 Shamrock Rovers 

It was a case of the late, late show once again for Shamrock Rovers as Rory Gaffney broke Longford Town hearts with a 95th minute winner at Bishopsgate.

With second bottom Longford looking like they had held out for an unlikely point, Gaffney blasted home the rebound after goalkeeper Lee Steacy had parried a header from Lee Grace following a Danny Mandroiu cross.

It’s now a remarkable eight points Stephen Bradley’s Hoops have garnered from goals scored after 90 minutes this season, including a Sean Gannon winner when these sides met at Tallaght Stadium last month.

And it was the champions’ welcome first win in four games to leave them trailing leaders Sligo Rovers by one point going into the mid-season break.

Without a win now in 13 games since the opening night of the season, the manner of this defeat was cruel on Daire Doyle’s midlanders who defended doggedly for much of the match.

Stung by two successive defeats, Rovers started with intent, Graham Burke’s speculative shot going narrowly wide of Steacy’s left-hand post barely 15 second in.

As in their first meeting, Longford needed no invitation to take the game to Rovers when they could and had appeals for a penalty waved away early on when Aaron McNally’s cross struck Grace.

Aaron Robinson then volleyed off target from a Paddy Kirk cross as Rovers were sluggish in trying to clear a long throw into their area.

Longford’s solid shape continued to frustrate Rovers who laboured to get their passing game going.

Nothing having come from a couple of Mandroiu corners, the visitors didn’t get a clear sight of goal until the 26th minute, Liam Scales heading tamely wide from opposite wingback Gannon’s cross.

The ball was in the home net three minutes later, but Gaffney had controlled Scales’ cross with his hand before shooting and it was rightly disallowed.

Within a further minute, Burke cleverly made a yard of space to rifle just over the bar from distance as Hoops upped the tempo.

The lively Burke remained central to Rovers’ quest for a breakthrough into the second half, receiving a yellow card before bringing a smart diving save from Steacy with a 56th-minute free-kick.

Eight minutes later the Hoops number 10 was left holding his head in his hands after drilling wide following a sweeping move.

Town remained a threat on their occasional forays forward, Rob Manley skying over the top from substitute Dylan Grimes’ free kick on 66 minutes.

But Rovers remained dominant, pressing hard late on to get their rewards at the death.

Next round of fixtures:

Friday 11th June

  • Derry City v Bohemians
  • Dundalk v Waterford
  • Shamrock Rovers v Finn Harps

Saturday 12th June 

  • Longford Town v St. Patrick’s Athletic
  • Sligo Rovers v Drogheda United

League table:

First Division

Cabineely 0-2 Wexford FC

Cabinteely can feel hugely unlucky to have found themselves at the receiving end of Wexford taking their first points of the season.

After a damp day, the away started proceedings at Stradbrook under grey skies and were caught in a storm of controversy after just 3 minutes.

Dan Blackbyrne’s long throw in, which caused trouble all evening, was flicked on by Jem Campion and Luke McWilliams in the visiting box before coming towards Kevin Knight at the back post.

As Knight went to retrieve possession in a dangerous area, Jimmy Corcoran scrambling from his goal line, looked to have hacked down Knight from behind.

Referee Robert Dowling’s decision to point for a goal kick, clearly indicating Corcoran made no contact with the ball, brought much confusion to those on and off the pitch.

The Slaneysiders were quick to capitalise on the referee’s leniency when just minutes later, link-up play from former Cabo men Karl Manahan and Paul Fox saw Fox deliver a tantalising ball into the box.

The cross was met by the head of Kyle Robinson who did very well to head across Harry Halwax to break the deadlock.

On 13 minutes, Wexford tried to get the referee’s attention for a penalty appeal of their own as Kyle Doherty attempted to fall into Luke McWilliams in the Cabo box. Dowling correctly ignored the complaints on this occasion.

Cabo were once again on the receiving end of the match official’s reluctance to blow his whistle when Marty Waters appeared to be tripped by Luke Turner in the box – yet again the referee was uninterested.

Wexford did produce other threatening moments in the first half but were outwitted by Vilius Labutis who always found himself in the right position to clear off the line. Halwax also showed a combination of sharp reflexes and using the full extent of his frame to make some great saves.

Cabinteely emerged for the second half with extra spring in their step and were nearly rewarded within a minute of kick-off. Kevin Knight acted quickly off a free kick to find Keith Dalton. His cross was pinpoint accurate onto the head of Green Line graduate Campion who was very unlucky to see his header roll just inches wide.

While Wexford sought to make use of counter attacks to soften Cabo’s renewed vigour, they were foiled once more by Labutis who was well positioned to single handily break up a five-man counterattack.

On 57 minutes, Knight rose highest from a Dalton corner as he tried to replicate his goal scoring performance from the opening night of the season. His header could only find the post, and in the follow up Luke McWilliams was just unable to convert the rebound.

Cabo’s resolve was finally broken just after the hour mark when in the second wave following a corner Robinson, who appeared to all in attendance but the linesman to be offside found himself one on one with Halwax.

Not surprising given his head start, he was able to square to an open Jack Doherty, also slowly retreating, who could head home and celebrate while 11 Cabinteely players making justified complaints were ignored.
With such spirit crushing decision-making, Cabo fought valiantly to get back into the game but were unable to do so despite many attacking substitutions.

A brief glimmer of hope was granted on 73 minutes when Paul Fox’s return to Stradbrook was ended early as he saw a second yellow after a clumsy challenge in the corner.

As much as Cabo bravely pushed for an equaliser, they were unable to break down a Wexford defence well marshalled by the experienced Lorcan Fitzgerald, who has recently been installed as a player coach in the South-East.

Cabo head to a well-earned mid-season break still pushing for the playoffs and have the added excitement of fans being allowed to attend their next fixture versus Cork at Turner’s Cross as a trial event in football’s return to normality post Covid-19.

Cobh Ramblers 1-0 Cork City

Jake Hegarty’s first goal for Cobh Ramblers will go down in club history as they recorded a famous derby victory over Cork City.

It will take its place in the annals alongside John O’Rourke’s winner in Cobh’s last derby win at St Colman’s Park, all the way back in February 1995, and Dave Warren’s strike in the 2006 League Cup at Turner’s Cross, another 1-0 win.

It also snapped Cobh’s winless home run, stretching back 10 games to August 2020, and extended City’s doubly dreadful away record, now without a win in 20 games since beating Waterford at the RSC in August 2019.

Midleton-recruit Hegarty was emphatic in smashing the ball high to the net on 62 minutes after controlling Killian Cooper’s cross when given too much space by the retreating City defence.

City had hit the post twice before that in a game where they had the majority of chances but failed to rise to the challenge after Hegarty’s breakthrough.

Dylan McGlade was at the centre of City’s few threats in the closing half-hour. He set up Beineón O’Brien-Whitmarsh, who forced Sean Barron to save with his feet. Three McGlade corners in a row couldn’t worry Barron and an injury-time free was gathered by the Cobh No. 1.

With 600 fans returning to Turner’s Cross for the visit of Cabinteely in a fortnight’s time, one of the Government’s test events for exiting the Covid-19 lockdown, Colin Healy’s men, now just a point ahead of Cobh in eighth place, will simply have to produce better.

Missing the injured Ronan Hurley, City lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, with George Heaven and Alec Byrne returning from the treatment table. Cobh gave a debut to another Midleton signing, James McCarthy, in place of captain John Kavanagh, ruled out with ankle ligament damage.

It was a 10-man battle for midfield superiority, with both managers lining out with five across the middle, and while Cobh enjoyed some early pressure, Mark McNulty was only troubled by the low sunset as Cobh strayed offside at key moments.

At the other end, Jack Baxter lashed over after some uncertainty in the Cobh defence and Alec Byrne couldn’t connect properly with a headed chance before the latter set-up the best openings of the half on the 21st minute.

He put Cian Murphy through on goal but his attempt to square for Darragh Crowley was intercepted. Byrne kept the play alive and his cross was met at the back stick by Cian Bargary who thumped the inside of the post and watched the ricochet flash across the goal.

Byrne and Bargary continued to threaten but Cobh almost had a breakthrough out of the blue on 35 minutes, the ball dropping to Cooper in the box but he dragged his effort wide.

Jonas Häkkinen was replaced after taking a shot to the head in the build-up, with McGlade introduced as Gordon Walker slotted into the back-three.

McGlade stung Barron’s fists with a swerving free-kick but Cobh closed the stronger with three late corners. The latter almost caused a City calamity as the ball deflected off two men in green and Baxter took it off the line.

City stepped it up a gear on the resumption. Gearóid Morrissey hit the post with a snapshot after Cobh couldn’t clear a corner, Bargary shot over after Barron spilled a cross, and Byrne did the same when escaping behind the cover.

A clever free-kick routine played Morrissey into space but his cross-cum-shot flashed just wide.

But once Hegarty shocked the visitors after the hour, City couldn’t muster a response.

The only pity was the return of fans will come two weeks too late for the Cobh support to celebrate one of their greatest nights in person.

Treaty United 2-0 Bray Wanderers

Treaty United returned to winning ways on Friday night with a massive 2-0 victory over a previously in-form Bray Wanderers side at the Markets Field. A superb solo goal from William Armshaw opened the scoring before a Mark Byrne own-goal just three minutes later ensured the points would stay on Shannonside.

Treaty had to make a couple of adjustments to the team following the loss to Cabinteely with both Clyde O’Connell and Sean McSweeney missing the game through injury and replaced by Callum McNamara and Joel Coustrain. As a result, Ed McCarthy played in a midfield three with McNamara and captain Jack Lynch while Matt Keane and Joel Coustrain played on the right and left of a front three.

It was the visitors who made the brightest start and were enjoying the slick surface at the Markets Field. Bray are renowned for keeping possession as seen by the midweek stats and crosses from both Steven Kinsella and Ryan Graydon in the opening 20 minutes looked dangerous.

The first big opportunity arrived midway through the first half as Dylan Barnett made an overlapping run on the left before crossing in the direction of Joe Doyle who should have profited from a slip from Anthony O’Donnell and hesitancy from Marc Ludden but somehow managed to head wide from 8 yards out.

Ten minutes later, Bray’s dominance created another chance from the left as a driving run into the box by Barnett allowed the former Waterford man to scoop a weak effort into the grateful arms of Tadgh Ryan. Moments later, good interpay between Doyle, Graydon and O’Farrell resulted in the latter firing wide under pressure from O’Donnell.

Kieran Hanlon had Treaty’s only shot of the first half from a free-kick and it was clear that improvement was needed in the second half in order to get a result.

To their credit, there was a marked improvement from the home side in the second half as they did not leave their opponents settle easily. Two quick fire chances for Keane who was played through by McCarthy and the Moyross native striking the post with a shot of his own were testament of the changing tide in the game.

In saying that, it took a big save from Ryan to deny O’Farrell after 70 minutes but the away side were looking far less potent in the second period.

Hence the introduction of a tricky winger by the name of William Armshaw. The former St. Michaels man has endured a frustrating start to life at the club through injury but produced the key moment in the game after being introduced as substitute for Joel Coustrain.

Armshaw picked up possession on the edge of the area before dribbling his way Ryan Giggs-esque past two challenges and burying the ball beyond Brian Maher to send the small crowd into raptures. Bray were shell shocked and that was evident by the second goal as Matt Keane’s cross from the right was headed beyond his own goalkeeper by the experienced Mark Byrne.

It was a superb win for the home side which you didn’t see coming based on the first half of the game but that determination and resilience came to the fore once again which ensured that Treaty sit in fourth position heading into a two week break before the game with Wexford FC. Furthermore, the unbeaten record at the Markets Field with four wins and a draw is maintained.

Athlone Town 2-3 UCD

A second-half fightback from UCD will ensure some soul searching for Athlone Town after a 3-2 defeat heading into the SSE Airtricity League First Division mid-season interval.

A late Mark Dignam goal combined with a Dara Keane tap in midway through the half was enough to send all three points back down the motorway to the capital.

An emerging trend is a fast start from Athlone Town and tonight was no different.

Three minutes in Adam Wixted rattled the crossbar and just sixty ticks of the clock later the Westmeath side hit the front.

James Doona found space down the left. His initial cross struck the back of Harvey O’Brien’s calf but fell perfectly for Dan McKenna to sweep home his first of the campaign.

The early setback didn’t deter the students who began to dictate play more consistently and were unlucky not to be level on sixteen minutes.

Colm Whelan took three Athlone defenders out of play with a nutmeg at the edge of the area but Michael Schlingermann made a point blank save of the highest calibre.

The rebound fell to Evan Weir but his drive was bravely met by Cantwell on the line.

Partially against the run of play the Midlanders doubled their lead after 25 minutes.

A superb bit of Tumelo Tlou magic made Luke Boore look statuesque on the right hand side. This allowed him to drive into the box and with a deft dink, find Shane Barnes lurking six yards out to nod home.

That advantage only lasted a matter of minutes.

Colm Whelan was proving a constant thorn in Athlone’s side. He again produced a driving run up the middle, drawing three home defenders before coolly sliding the ball to his strike partner Liam Kerrigan. The former Sligo Rovers man made no mistake from the left hand side of the area to pull one back.

The second half was only ten minutes old when Athlone’s lead was eroded entirely.

A good bit of UCD build-up play released Kerrigan into space on the left hand side. He glided past Tlou and sent a dangerous low ball across the area.  Dara Keane escaped the attention of Derek Daly to duly tap in at the back post.

Both sides exchanged chances as the half progressed.

Adam Wixted blasted over from 12 yards when all on his own at one end, while at the other Dylan Hand somehow kept Colm Whelan off the scoresheet with a goal-line clearance.

The game had been bubbling but the referee’s happiness with the yellow card; he showed eight in total, meant neither side would finish with the full compliment.

Paul Doyle and Tumelo Tlou both given their marching orders for an accumulation of offences.

It appeared as if the contest was petering to a fair close until a melee in the Midlanders six-yard box ended with Mark Dignam scrambling the ball by Schlingermann and three Athlone defenders camped on the goal line.

It all means Athlone Town remain in third, three behind tonight’s opponents and five off top spot heading into a one-week break.

Shelbourne FC 4-0 Galway United

Shelbourne gave a display of confidence and swagger as they demolished Galway United to bolster their lead at the top of the table in the second tier, five points clear of UCD.

A couple of deflected strikes from Michael O’Connor had the Reds in comfort mode by the break.

Second-half strikes from Yoyo Mahdy and substitute Glen McAuley left United demoralised and 11 points off the top, with Shels seemingly coasting to a First Division title.

John Ross Wilson and Shane Farrell were outstanding for the hosts, who will be very hard to dislodge at the top of the table in this evidence. They were superb from start to finish and coughed up few chances to a poor Galway side.

Shels were dominant early and, though Galway were growing into the game, the opener reflected the hosts’ ascending. O’Connor had a pot-shot that deceived Conor Kearns on 25 minutes but the frustrating thing for United was a sloppy pass from Gary Boylan, just as they were growing into the game.

Within 10 minutes, United were nearly level. Keating did really well on the right-hand side; he crossed for Maurice Nugent but the hero of last week at Turner’s Cross, when he notched an equaliser, just hooked his effort wide.

Four minutes before the break, Wilson did really well down the flank and fed O’Connor, whose strike again got the help of a deflection and went beyond Kearns.

United looked in need of an early goal in the second half. What hope they had died on 51 minutes. This time it was Mahdy who did the damage, striking a lovely left-footed strike to put the game beyond doubt.

Galway did not create much but briefly came to life with 20 minutes left, Shane Duggan fizzing an outside-of-the-foot strike wide at the Ballbough end.

The fourth goal was a thing of beauty. Farrell, who was excellent throughout, fashioned a superb back-heel to Wilson, who played in substitute McAuley, who had an easy finish.

Shels looked full of confidence, unity and energy, with United, also a full-time side, left to reflect on just two wins achieved on the pitch so far. They are now in a fascinating scrap for the playoff spots.

Next round of fixtures:

Friday 11th June

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

League table:

The mid-season break comes at the right time for teams in both divisions. Shamrock Rovers have a flight on their hands it looks like but will still be favourites to come out on top. Dundalk are showing some signs of life after a rough start while the battle to avoid the drop looks like it could go the distance.

In the First Division Shelbourne seem to have that little bit extra compared to their rivals but the race for the play-offs is incredibly close. Treaty United can be extremely pleased with their debut campaign so far and have turned Markets Field into something of a fortress.

One thing that’s for certain is there are plenty of twists and turns ahead when the action resumes and Marking The Spot will bring you all of it!

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