Airtricity League wrap: Galway bring Dundalk back to earth as Sligo hit Wexford for five
It was a busy night in the Airtricity League Premier Division. Check out how the action went below including a European hangover for Dundalk.
Galway United 1 Dundalk 0
Vinny Faherty found the net again as Dundalk’s dream week ended in a dismal defeat away to Galway United at Eamonn Deacy Park.
After their stunning victory over BATE Borisov, Stephen Kenny’s side drew Legia Warsaw in the Champions League play-off this morning.
But the reigning champions couldn’t keep up their impressive SSE Airtricity League form and instead it was the 29-year-old Galwegian who scored his 11th goal of the season.
There was a crowd of 2,578 packed into the Terryland Park venue and they witnessed a brilliant first half where Galway worked their way into the game and took a 1-0 lead into half-time.
President of Ireland Michael D Higgins was in attendance, as well as Connacht coach Pat Lam, and it was a wonderful advert for the league as Galway put it up to the pacesetters.
But Dundalk were dangerous early on and Galway goalkeeper Conor Winn had to be alert when he was tested by a Darren Meenan free-kick. Daryl Horgan and Meenan had good opportunities for Dundalk but they could not convert as Galway grew in confidence.
Chris Shields had to make a last-ditch clearance when Faherty was on hand to slot into the empty net in the 22nd minute.
Ciaran Kilduff also went close after a mazy run from Patrick McEleney.
But Galway had the chance of the half when Stephen Folan got on the end of a Ryan Connolly free-kick and his volley went just over.
And just one minute before half-time Faherty popped up to head home as Galway took a 1-0 lead into half-time.
The Champions League hopefuls’ top goalscorer David McMillan was brought on shortly before the hour but he was off target with his first chance.
Shields and then Robbie Benson went closer and closer for Dundalk but to no avail and the introduction of Jose Garcia steadied things in midfield for the hosts.
Bohemians 2 Finn Harps 0
JAKE Kelly came off the bench to help fire Bohemians to victory over Finn Harps at Dalymount Park tonight.
Kelly was sent into the action by Keith Long at half-time and he opened the scoring on 68 minutes.
The composed Kelly steered past Richard Brush from close range.
Ismahil Akinade had provided the assist for Kelly and the Nigerian slid home the second goal two minutes from time to clinch the win.
In a cagey first half, neither side was willing to be too adventurous, but both had their moments.
Bohs goalkeeper Shane Supple saved at full-length from Tony McNamee’s long-range effort and rose to deny Ruairi Keating’s follow-up.
At the other end, Brush was out smartly to save at the feet of Paddy Kavanagh, who was played in by Roberto Lopes’ probing pass, and the Harps stopper had to be alert to cut out Derek Prendergast’s ball across goal.
Keating saw a close-range effort saved by Supple on the hour, but Bohs left with the win as Kelly netted.
Kelly might have sealed it, but Brush made the save, only for Akinade to pounce for the killer second.
Shamrock rovers 2 Longford Town 1
DEFENDER Sean Heaney played a part in both Shamrock Rovers goals tonight, including his second-half winner which downed basement side Longford Town.
Earlier, Heaney’s pass had released Brandon Miele to give the Hoops a 29th-minute lead at Tallaght Stadium and, despite David O’Sullivan equalising three minutes before the break, the 20-year-old clinched the points with his header on 58 minutes.
Caretaker manager Stephen Bradley stretched his unbeaten run to four games by his side delivering a steady rather than spectacular display which cuts the gap on third-placed Derry City to three points.
Miele, understood to a target for Portsmouth, was lively early on but could only miscue his close-range volley wide. After being denied by Ryan Coulter in the Longford goal, he eventually buried his seventh goal of the season after latching into Heaney’s through-ball and slipping a low shot into the far corner.
Playing on the counter-attack, Longford exposed the home defence when Eddie Dsane picked out the unmarked O’Sullivan who curled his first-time effort beyond Craig Hyland.
It was a goal the midlanders were unable to consolidate from as they conceded their 49th league of the season by failing to apply basic defending from a set-piece. Miele’s corner-kick held up long enough for the visitors to attack but they allowed Heaney react quickest by steering his header into the near corner.
Wexford 0 Sligo Rovers 5
Two well-taken goals from Kieran Sadlier put the gloss on Sligo Rovers’ biggest win of the season to move Dave Robertson’s side back up into the top half of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table.
Raffaele Cretaro sent Sligo on their way with Daniel Kearns and new signing Achille Campion, on his debut, adding the other goals in a convincing win at Ferrcarrig Park.
Derry City 1 St Patrick's Athletic 1
Derry and St Patrick’s Athletic deservedly shared the spoils but their united stance against the FAI’s stewardship of the league was the big talking point at the Brandywell.
After Derry announced on Thursday that they would be refusing a €5,000 grant to fund a five-year strategic plan, the Dubliners followed suit ahead of this game.
They released a hard-hitting statement about the FAI’s attitude to the Airtricity League that will accelerate discussions about the direction of the game.
St Pat’s are a prominent member of the Premier Clubs’ Alliance (PCA) that has raised concerns about the direction of the league.
An offer that effectively amounts to €20 per week angered Derry and the Saints feel equally strongly. They feel the announcement made by CEO John Delaney was an attempt to get First Division clubs on side.
“The board is of the view that the move and its timing was deliberately aimed at encouraging non-Premier League clubs to stand with the current administrators of our league as the PCA set about its agenda of change,” said the statement.
The board wants its decision (to refuse money) to serve as a clear message to the FAI that it has utterly failed in its responsibility to the domestic game and to those clubs who, in spite of its indifference, have managed to keep some semblance of professionalism within football in Ireland.
“St Pat’s is committed to the establishment of a strong PCA which must be focused on rooting out the culture of disinterest that has prevailed throughout the FAI’s management of our League for too many years.
“Offering the proverbial ‘crumbs from the rich man’s table’ will not shift the resolve of those clubs and those individuals determined to create a properly funded and professionally managed league in Ireland.”
The drama on the pitch was effectively out of the way by the interval. Rory Patterson’s 10th-minute strike put the hosts in front but it was cancelled out by Keith Treacy’s equaliser.
More to follow