Airtricity League wrap: Dundalk march closer to title and goal fest at Markets Field
A round-up of the action in the Airtricity Premier Division.
Dundalk 4 St Patrick's Athletic 1
Ten points clear with just nine games to play, Dundalk are edging closer to retaining the SSE Airtricity League title for the first time in the club’s history.
This ruthless display against St Patrick’s Athletic, coupled with Cork City’s 3-0 defeat in Tallaght, means that Stephen Kenny’s are firmly in the driving seat as the finish line approaches.
Now 12 points adrift, the result kills off any lingering hopes that Pat’s had of mounting a late title charge. Liam Buckley’s side arrived looking to register their 10th straight league win but instead they fell to their fourth defeat in all competitions against the champions this season.
Dundalk signalled their intent after just 30 seconds. David McMillan worked space on the left of the Pat’s penalty area to pick out Richie Towell but his first time volley posed no danger to Brendan Clarke.
The breakthrough arrived in the 6th minute from a familiar route. Daryl Horgan’s corner from the left was met by Brian Gartland and he thumped a header past Clarke to give Kenny’s side the ideal start.
It was almost 2-0 just five minutes later. Slick play between John Mountney and Ronan Finn on the right ended with McMillan flashing a header just past Clarke’s left hand post.
The natives continued to display a real cutting edge and their pressure told again in the 13th minute. A beautiful passage of play ended with Finn slipping McMillan in behind the Pat’s back four and he made no mistake. A fabulous team goal.
Kenny’s title chasers showed no let up and the influential Finn was unlucky to see a ferocious half volley fly just wide in the 19th minute.
Pat’s eventually stemmed the tide and Gartland’s nudge on Jamie McGrath gave them a free kick in a dangerous position in the 29th minute. Conan Byrne’s effort hit the wall but when Sean Gannon cleared the ball back into James Chambers’s path, the hosts were relieved to see the ball whistle just past the upright with Gary Rogers well beaten.
Any hopes of a comeback looked to have gone up in smoke two minutes later. Daryl Horgan’s pass steered McMillan to the left of the penalty area but the former Pat’s striker rifled a fine drive across Clarke to take his tally to 11 for the season.
The goals continued to rain down and Chambers pulled one back in the 38th minute when he bent a free-kick around the wall to beat Rogers at his near post. It was an effort that the Dundalk goalkeeper should have dealt with.
Dundalk restored their three goal cushion going into the break. Greg Bolger easily gave the ball up in a dangerous area, allowing Finn to drive towards the penalty area and roll the ball across the face of goal for Daryl Horgan to tap home.
Buckley reacted to his side’s inept first half display by replacing Bolger with Jason McGuinness at the break and Pat’s emerged for the second half looming much more assured.
Conan Byrne forced a save from Rogers after cutting in from the right before Aaron Greene saw a shot deflected just over the top.
Rogers atoned for his earlier mistake by clawing another Chambers free-kick away for a corner in the 74th minute before Greene directed a neat effort just wide. Dundalk, however, saw the game out to take a huge step towards the club’s 11th league title.
Limerick 3 Longford 3
LIMERICK FC were involved in yet another goal-laden affair, but this time they weren’t able to add to their August winning sequence as Longford twice fought back to rescue a point.
Ian Turner put the home side in front on 14 minutes when he made his way into the penalty area and fired low into the corner.
It was soon 2-0 to Martin Russell’s men, Shane Tracy unleashing a 20-yard strike first time at a raucous Markets Field.
Limerick were in full control, but Longford halved the deficit on the half-hour when Aymen Ben Mohamed’s corner was headed to the net by the unmarked Rhys Gorman.
Tony Cousins’ side restored parity shortly before the interval through Mark Salmon, despite Tracy’s best efforts to hack the ball away off the goal-line.
Limerick forced their way back into the lead just after the hour, Robbie Williams’ header beating Paul Hunt in the Longford goal. It was almost 4-2 a minute later, Hunt producing a magnificent save from Dean Clarke.
The teams were level again after 71 minutes, Stephen Rice looping a header into the net from Conor Powell’s free kick, and the spoils were shared.
Both teams were adventurous in their pursuit of a winning goal, but ultimately both had to settle for a draw in this tumultuous.
Galway United 1 Drogheda United 1
An understrength Galway United were nerveless as Ger Hanley starred and they held out for an important draw at Eamonn Deacy Park.
Jake Keegan gave Galway an unlikely lead before the break but Mick Daly slotted the equaliser in the 69th minute.
The Tribesmen were made to do without several of their front-liners and had to start with three of their U-19 contingent.
Galway led 1-0 at half-time even though Drogheda were dominant. Like Hanley, Drogs’ keeper Micheal Schlingermann was also on top form, but he could do little to prevent Keegan’s goal in the 44th minute.
But when Daly drew the sides level in the second-half it looked as though Drogheda would push on, but United held on.
GALWAY UNITED – Hanley; Raftery, Oji, Byrne, Sinnott; Shanahan, McConnell, O’Leary, O Laoi; Melody, Keegan.
DROGHEDA UNITED – Schlingermann; Daly, Byrne, O’Reilly, Gorman; Mulvenna, Maher, Hughes, Thornton, Marks; Duffy (McKenna 87).
REF – Graham Kelly (Cork)
Bray Wanderers 3 Bohemians 1
Chris Lyons equalised and then set up a terrific second goal for Peter McGlynn as Bray beat Bohemians in a dress rehearsal of their FAI Cup third round clash this Friday.
Though the better side for large parts of the first half, Bray had to come from behind to go in level at the interval.
Bohemians snatched the lead against the run of play from their first corner of the game on 19 minutes.
Bray keeper Peter Cherrie could only punch away Lorcan Fitzgerald’s delivery. The ball was returned back into the area where midfielder Robbie Creevy was unmarked to head home.
The controversial awarding of a penalty three minutes later brought Bray an equaliser when Eoin Wearen was harshly adjudged to have fouled Lyons when he appeared to have won the
Bray Wanderers: Cherrie; Douglas, McNally, Cooney, Barker; Sullivan; McGlynn (Scully, 70), Kelly, McEvoy, Cassidy; Lyons (McDonagh, 85).
Bohemians: Delany; Hayes, Lopes, Best, Fitzgerald; Kavanagh, Wearen (Dillon, 33), Creevy (Mulcahy, h/t), Kelly; O’Brien; J. Byrne (Akinade, 59).
Results: Bray Wanderers 3 Bohemians 1; Dundalk 4 St Pat's 1; Galway United 1 Drogheda United 1; Limerick 3 Longford 3; Sligo Rovers 1 Derry City 0