Airtricity League round-up: Big wins for Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Cork City
There was a full list of fixtures in the Airtricity League. Here's how the six games went.
BOHEMIANS 0 CORK CITY 1
The game will quickly disappear from the memory of the supporters that braved the elements but John Caulfield will hope that it gains importance in the long run.
This is the type of fixture that his Cork City charges need to win if they are to halt Dundalk’s three-in-a-row attempt.
Last year, their only two wins in the capital came when the title race was done and dusted; draws in the first phase of the campaign cost them in the long run.
This term, they have already dropped points in Sligo and Galway. Dundalk’s form, which includes a 100pc record away from home, has put the pressure on the Leesiders to keep up with a relentless pace.
On another night, a draw would have represented a perfectly acceptable result from this fixture with biblical rain, gusty conditions and a bobbly pitch making this a real battle. And that’s before considering a Bohemians side that has more in the locker than their results this season would suggest.
To their credit, Cork grabbed enough control of proceedings to turn that tie into a win and stay within four points of Dundalk at the top of the table.
Bohs do have some tidy players and were the better team in the early exchanges here but a run of five games without a goal in all competitions shines a light on a major reason for their struggles.
Cork overcame a difficult spell to start imposing themselves on the match with Greg Bolger, their important midfield acquisition, forcing a stop from Dean Delany ahead of the half-time interval.
The genesis of that break was the constant threat provided on the left side from Karl Sheppard, yet the decisive moment just after the resumption came from the other flank. Central attacker Sean Maguire drifted right to pick up a clever pass from Bolger before squaring across the box where central midfielder Garry Buckley had ghosted into space to apply the final touch.
Bohs boss Keith Long had no option but to shuffle his pack in search of inspiration. He made all three subs before the 70th-minute mark with Aymen Ben Mohamed, Mark Quigley and then Ismahil Akinade sent in with a view to picking the lock.
However, the Phibsborough side were unable to really probe into opposition territory as Cork dug in to restrict space and threatened to add to their advantage on the break with Maguire and ex-Bohs man Steven Beattie lively throughout.
With Bohs struggling to get a shot on target, their task was stiffened by a rash challenge from Quigley that connected with Sheppard and forced ref Rob Rogers to produce a red card.
That gave Cork a helping hand to see out the final ten minutes but, in truth, they looked reasonably comfortable before that incident. A speculative shot from Akinade was the closest that Bohs came to a leveller.
With seven losses from 12 games, they have a lot of work to do. So do Cork, but this is a step in the right direction.
Bohemians – Delany, Pender, Prendergast, Mulcahy, Fitzgerald; Lopes, Wearen; Buckley (Quigley 64), Byrne (Ben Mohamed 57), Kavanagh (Akinade 70); Kelly.
Cork City – McNulty, Dunleavy, Bennett, Browne, O’Connor; Bolger, Buckley; Beattie (Healy 90), Holohan (McSweeney 88), Sheppard; Maguire (O’Sullivan 80)
Ref – R Rogers (Dublin)
Shamrock Rover 3 Sligo Rovers 0
Shamrock Rovers brightened up a damp and dreary night at Tallaght Stadium by recording their biggest home win of the season and rising to third in the table.
While Sligo Rovers arrived in Dublin chasing a fourth win on the trot, they were overpowered by Pat Fenlon’s side who had Gary McCabe’s brace and another from birthday boy Gary Shaw on the scoresheet.
The Hoops, too, were on a decent run, having won back-to-back league games, and never looked back once McCabe fired them ahead after just seven minutes.
When Sligo captain Craig Roddan fouled Gavin Brennan in the box, McCabe did what he’d done earlier in the season against Wexford Youths and Finn Harps by drilling the spot-kick home.
The visitors had scored nine goals in their previous three wins yet offered little in attack despite the best efforts of Raffaele Cretaro up front.
Credit must also go to the Shamrock Rovers defence for maintaining their record of keeping clean sheets in all eight of their league wins to date.
Their latest victory was all but secured by their second goal netted three minutes before the break by Shaw on the occasion of his 24th birthday.
Without a goal since joining from Longford, the Newbridge man showed no rustiness from his recent injury lay-off in dinking a volley beyond Micheál Schlingermann following a pinpoint cross by Simon Madden from the right.
Comfortably in control, the home side extended their lead 12 minutes after the restart. Gavin Brennan’s bravery on the left won possession back for the hosts and his lay-off allowed Dean Clarke to plant a cross onto McCabe’s head six yards out and he nodded in.
Persistence almost led to McCabe securing his hat-trick on a couple of occasions only for him to shoot tamely at Schlingermann before the Sligo goalkeeper denied the midfielder from another close-range header.
SHAMROCK ROVERS – Hyland; Madden, Cornwall, Webster, G Brennan; Cregg, McCabe, K Brennan (Boyd 83); Miele, Shaw (North 61), D Clarke (McPhail 74).
SLIGO ROVERS – Schlingermann; Adebayo-Rowling, Leahy, Boylan, Donelon; Richards (Roberts 73), Roddan, Russell, Keohane; Martin (Sadlier 67), Cretaro (Gordon 83).
Ref – G Kelly (Cork.
Derry City 2 Finn Harps 2
DERRY CITY missed a golden chance to defeat North West neighbours Finn Harps.
Just when the Brandywell faithful had thought Joshuna Daniels and Rory Patterson’s late goals had cancelled out Ryan Curran’s opener and won the game, up popped Sean Houston to head home a stoppage-time leveller.
The deadlock was broken on 20 minutes as Harps’ front-foot approach finally paid off with Dave Scully’s powerful strike turned onto the bar by Gerard Doherty and the grateful Curran heading home from close range.
Derry should have equalised on 70 minutes when the ball fell kindly to Ronan Curtis inside the box, but his side-footed strike was straight at Ciaran Gallagher.
City levelled things on 83 minutes when substitute Nathan Boyle saw his cross turned home by fellow sub Daniels.
Derry took the lead five minutes later in great style when Patterson showed great skill and finishing to blast home beyond Gallagher.
Just as the Derry supporters were celebrating a victory, Houston stepped up and headed home a leveller in stoppage time.
Derry City – Doherty, Vemmelund, McBride, Barry, McClean (Jarvis h-t); McCormack, McEneff; Curtis (Boyle 78), McNamee, Ward (Daniels 78); Patterson.
Finn Harps – Gallagher, McNulty, Cowan, Mailey, Coll; Hanlon (Funston 86), Molloy (McHugh) 90), Houston, McNamee (Boyle 74), Curran, Scully.
Ref – N Doyle (Dublin)
Dundalk 1 Bray Wanderers 0
Andy Boyle popped up with his first goal in over a year as Dundalk recorded their sixth straight league win with a hard-fought victory over Bray Wanderers at Oriel Park.
The defender’s 21st-minute header, from a Ronan Finn free-kick, was his first since the corresponding fixture 12 months ago, and maintained Dundalk’s four-point lead at the top.
Not for the first time this season, Stephen Kenny’s side were far from their best on home turf, and they had Gary Rogers to thank for securing the win – the Lilywhites goalkeeper standing tall to make a fine stop to deny Dylan Connolly late on.
The game should have been out of sight at that stage but David McMillan, who hit a brace against Galway United four nights earlier, squandered two gilt-edged chances.
Bray, who came in on the back of five defeats in their last six games, looked comfortable in the second half and they almost stunned Dundalk in the 89th minute when Connolly broke free but Rogers made a vital save to secure a hard fought win.
DUNDALK – Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Shields, Benson (Meenan 67); Mountney (Barrett 80), Finn, Horgan; McMillan.
BRAY WANDERERS – Cherrie; Douglas, Kenna, McNally, Harding (McDonagh 74); Salmon, Creevy; Connolly, Moore, Marks (Brennan 69); Pender (Kelly 69).
REF – Derek Tomney.
Galway United 0 St Patrick's Athletic 3
St Patrick’s Athletic moved up to fifth place in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table head of their hosts Galway United, after this impressive victory at Eamonn Deacy Park.
In doing so, they became the first side to beat the Tribesmen at home this season, and ended their three-game losing streak in the league thanks to goals from Sean Hoare, Billy Dennehy and Conan Byrne.
John Sullivan, who scored in Galway’s 3-1 win at St Pat’s earlier in the season, was shown red before half-time.
And Graham Kelly was sent off on a second yellow card for the visitors after half-time but Pat’s held on.
Hoare headed Pat’s in front on the stroke of half-time, three minutes after Sullivan was dismissed for a second yellow card. It was 1-0 to Pat’s at half-time and Dennehy made that 2-0 with a free-kick in the 51st minute.
Kelly then got his red, but it didn’t matter for the visitors as Byrne added the third late on.
Galway Utd – Winn; Ludden, Walsh (Curran 63), Aganovic, Horgan;
Devaney (Melody 78), Sullivan, Foley, Shanahan; Keating (Cantwell 45), Faherty.
St Patrick’s Athletic – Clarke; O’Brien, Hoare, D Dennehy, Bermingham; Timlin (Byrne 68), Kelly, Cawley, B Dennehy; McEleney (Verdon 58), McGrath.
Ref – P Sutton (Clare)
Longford Town 2 Wexford Youth 4
Sublime second-half goals from Andy Mulligan and Paul Murphy lifted Wexford Youths out of the relegation places to leave Longford rooted to the foot of the table.
Town striker David O’Sullivan outmuscled Ryan Delaney to stretch and get a toe to the ball to force it past Youths keeper Graham Doyle to give the home side a sixth-minute lead. But Delaney redeemed himself when bundling the loose ball home from a corner six minutes later.
Another corner brought Youths the lead on 20 minutes, Chris Kenny forcing Bonner’s delivery home at the back post. Youths then scored the goal of the game on 54 minutes.
Murphy and Eric Molloy combined to find Jonny Bonner on the left. The midfielder then threaded a delightful ball through for the run of winger Mulligan who drew keeper Molloy before confidently shooting past him.
Gary Delaney turned O’Sullivan’s cross into his own net on 72 minutes to give Longford hope. But Youths had the final word when Murphy fired in their fourth goal on 85 minutes.
Longford Town – Molloy; Hughes, Flynn, Noack-Hofmann, Powell; Cowan (Simon, 57), Gannon, Dillon (McKeown, 68), O’Connor; O’Sullivan, O’Hanlon.
Wexford Youths – Doyle; McCabe, G Delaney, R Delaney, Friel; Molloy (O’Keeffe, 90+1), Bonner, Kenny, Mulligan (Whittle, 89); Furlong (Dunne, 68), Murphy.
Ref – J McKell (Tipperary)