Lilywhites fail to break down stubborn Saints
The top two teams in the country from last year met in the final game before the mid-season break at Oriel Park and, on this evidence, there will be little to choose between them again come the end of this season.
Dundalk 0 St Patrick's Ath 0
A fiercely contested 0-0 draw which saw both sides finish the game with 10 men might not have appealed to the purists, but it showed just how evenly matched the current league leaders and reigning champions are.
Dundalk, looking to extend their lead over St Pat's to nine points, had the numerical advantage after 66 minutes when Pat's were reduced to 10 men. Ken Oman, booked in the 50th minute, was shown a straight red card by referee Neil Doyle for a high tackle on Dundalk substitute John Mountney.
Parity was restored just four minutes later, however. A bout of handbags between Pat's substitute Derek Foran and David McMillan in the far corner ended with Foran on the deck and McMillan heading for the tunnel.
This result sends Dundalk into the break sitting top of the table, three points ahead of Cork City and six ahead of third-placed St Pat's.
Both sides came into the game on the back of some free-scoring form, but it was the respective back fours who earned the plaudits on this occasion.
Dundalk, in keeping with their recent form, exploded from the traps but were met head on by a stubborn Saints' back line.
Three minutes had elapsed when the natives came closest to breaking through. Despite showing a heavy touch, Darren Meenan burst away from Chris Forrester with ease on the right. His low cross-cum-shot flashed across the goal, missing McMillan – by mere centimetres – at the back post.
Meenan was involved again soon after, setting Daryl Horgan away on the right before collecting the return. Unfortunately for Dundalk, he couldn't adjust his body and the shot floated wide.
After withstanding the early pressure, St Pat's warmed to the task and Chris Forrester should have done better with an effort in the 21st minute. Dane Massey's clearance bounced off Killian Brennan and kindly into Forrester's path, but he snatched at his half volley.
The visiting support were given more encouragement five minutes later. Byrne's corner was met by a thunderous Kenny Browne header that Massey blocked on the line. From the ensuing scramble, Pat's had loud appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Doyle.
With both teams giving nothing away, the first half came to an end in scrappy fashion. Brennan, needlessly booked for dissent, dipped an effort over Peter Cherrie's bar before the Scottish goalkeeper was left sweating by a thunderous Byrne effort that just cleared the bar in stoppage-time.
The second half saw both goalkeepers relatively underemployed again.
Dundalk were almost architects of their own downfall in the 55th minute. Brian Gartland caught the excellent Mark Rossiter short with a slack pass and when the Lilywhites skipper saw his attempted clearance blocked, both Chambers and Forrester had bites of the cherry without finding the target.
The two dismissals set up a cagey final 20 minutes with both sides reluctant to leave the door open at the back.
Dundalk full-back Sean Gannon almost broke the stalemate, his right-footed drive whistling just past Brendan Clarke's post.
Pat's boss Liam Buckley introduced Mark Quigley as the game approached the final 10 minutes and the former Dundalk striker almost made a big impression.
Seconds after coming on, Conor McCormack picked the striker out with a deft cross from the right, but Quigley couldn't connect. His attempt two minutes later was better, forcing Cherrie to scramble to his right to save, ensuring a share of the spoils.
Dundalk – Cherrie; Gannon, Gartland, Rossiter, Massey; Towell, Shields; Meenan (Griffin 80), Byrne (Mountney 63), Horgan; McMillan.
St Patrick's Athletic – Clarke; McCormack, Oman, Browne, Bermingham; Chambers, Bolger, Brennan; Byrne (Lynch 78), Fagan (Quigley 78), Forrester (Foran 68).
REF – N Doyle (Dublin)
Athlone Town 6 Drogheda Utd 0
WITH pressure mounting on Robbie Horgan, the last thing the Drogheda United manager needed from his team was another insipid display.
Yet that was precisely what they produced, losing their 10th match out of 11, and deservedly so.
Competitive until Athlone opened the scoring, they fell apart thereafter, conceding six sloppy goals to add to the 21 they had coughed up from their five previous appearances.
Drogheda simply fell apart after captain Michael Daly was withdrawn with an ankle injury on 38 minutes, and the manager and players left the field to a tirade of abuse from their fans.
Athlone Town - Skinner; Quigley, Prendergast, Harney, S Byrne (D Brennan 73); S Brennan, Dillon, Hughes, O’Brien, Doyle (Sweeney 73); Gorman (Mulroney 80).
Drogheda Utd - Connolly; Doyle, McNally, Crowley, Grimes; Brady, Daly (O’Connor 38), McGuigan (Holohan 65), Walshe; O’Neill; O’Brien.
Ref - P Sutton (Clare).
Bray Wanderers 0 Bohemians 5
BOHEMIANS recorded their biggest win of the season as Bray suffered a Friday the 13th nightmare at the Carlisle Grounds.
The visitors took a sixth-minute lead when Keith Buckley was brought down by Shane O'Neill and Dinny Corcoran slotted home the penalty. It became 2-0 four minutes later as Corcoran finished from close range.
Bray ’keeper Shane Redmond was sent off on a straight red after 24 minutes and Corcoran completed his hat-trick with his second penalty.
It became 4-0 with Robert Maloney’s own goal and Buckley flicked home the fifth on 74 minutes.
Bray Wanderers - Redmond; McGill, D O'Connor, S O'Connor, Maloney; Zambra, Hanlon (S Byrne 79), Cassidy, O'Neill; Scully (J Kelly h-t), Akinade (Sheridan 25).
Bohemians - Delany; Price, Lopes, D Byrne, Memery (J Byrne 79); Murphy, Wearen, Buckley, Kavanagh; Devaney (Moore 74), Corcoran (Hyland 84).
Ref - PMcLaughlin (Monaghan).
Sligo Rovers 2 Derry City 2
FOUR first-half goals at the Showgrounds saw mid-table Sligo Rovers and Derry City play out an entertaining draw.
John Russell smashed the ball home from 30 yards to open the scoring on 16 minutes but a looped header from Ryan McBride drew Derry level.
Centre-half McBride put the visitors ahead eight minutes later after Gary Rogers failed to hold a corner but Ledwith equalised to enable Sligo to end a three-match losing run.
Eric Odhiambo came off the bench on 66 minutes only to shown a straight red card four minutes later.
Sligo - Rogers; Conneely, McMillan, Spillane, Gaynor; Cawley, Russell, O'Conor (Odhiambo 66), Cretaro; Ledwith, North (Maguire 85).
Derry - Doherty; Ventre, Byrne, McBride, Barry; Duffy, McNamee, Molloy, Timlin (Curran 70); McEleney, Patterson (Boyle 87).
Ref - T Connolly (Dublin)
Limerick FC 2 UCD 1
LIMERICK FC's quiet and steady progress was maintained at Thomond Park as Stuart Taylor's charges claimed a third league win on the spin.
At the end of the first period, UCD, who had been completely outfoxed by Limerick, only trailed by one goal.
Somehow Limerick failed to add to their advantage after hitting the front in the second minute – Tam McManus looping in a header.
Three minutes after the restart, Shane Duggan scored when UCD failed to deal with a Prince Agyemang corner. UCD were spirited, trimming the deficit on 59 minutes as Samir Belhout pounced, but they couldn’t find a leveller.
Limerick FC - Ryan; Kelly, Oji, Folan, Nzuzi, Agyemang, Duggan, Hughes, Galbraith, Gaffney, McManus (Mann, 72).
UCD - O'Donnell; Douglas, Ryan, Kavanagh, Matthews, Belhout, Creevy (McCabe, 68), Crowe, Mulhall, Burke (Wilson, 86), Benson.
Ref - R Harvey (Dublin).