The second gameweek of Airtricity League action has been and gone with no sign of the twists and turns of the Premier Division ceasing at this early stage.
There was, again, late drama, surprising results and strong attendances as the season began to truly feel like it was back in full swing.
After the second week of fixtures, Pundit Arena takes a look at what we learned from Friday’s action.
It Could Be A Long Season For Cork City
Before the start of the campaign, Cork manager John Caulfield outlined that with the host of new faces and high profile exits, this campaign could be a “big challenge” for his squad.
Two games in and it appears as though his words may ring true throughout the season.
Last night at Turner’s Cross, Cork City fell to their Munster rivals Waterford, losing a game they were very much second best in by 2-0.
There’s no doubt that Waterford do look quite a good outfit this season and should again challenge in and around the top four or five teams in the league, but Caulfield will have unquestionably looked at that game, their first home league fixture of the campaign, as one that they should be winning.
Losing the goals of Kieran Sadlier is certainly a blow for the Leesiders and early indications are that this squad could take quite a few weeks to gel together.
A transitionary season may be necessary for Caulfield and Cork but it isn’t always pretty. They have enough talent not to be anywhere near any real danger come the end of the season, but it could be a far cry from their last two campaigns.
Dundalk Rescue A Point, But Perth & Co. Need A Win Sooner Rather Than Later
Brian Gartland saved the champions’ blushes at Finn Park on Friday night, with an equaliser in the 70th minute, against newly promoted Finn Harps.
In truth, it was a game that Dundalk dominated, but the home side frustrated their opponents throughout and one could argue that their dogged display made them good money for the point they picked up.
The bigger picture though is worrying for Vinnie Perth and the new management team and Oriel Park. It is early yes, but a draw with Finn Harps isn’t the best way to bounce back from a week that has already seen a point against Sligo Rovers and a defeat to minnows Athlone Town.
Dundalk missed the creativity of Patrick McEleney and despite some promising passages of play from Michael Duffy simply couldn’t break down the Harps defence enough to grab a winner.
The longer the champions go without their first win in Stephen Kenny’s absence the more it makes it look like their success was centred around his individual brilliance and less around the team.
UCD next up at Oriel Park simply must be their first three points of the season.
Daniel Mandroiu Continues To Impress At Bohemians
The second game in a row in which 20-year old attacking midfielder Daniel Mandroiu has impressed in a Bohemians win, as they saw off UCD 0-2 in Belfield.
Mandroiu was singled out for his promising display on his League of Ireland debut against Finn Harps last week and was again strong this week, linking up excellently with Keith Ward on the Bohs left-hand side, causing the students constant problems.
His display though will be most fondly remembered for his absolute screamer which opened the scoring at Belfield. Mandroiu ghosted past a couple of UCD defenders and fired the ball in the top corner for his first goal of the campaign.
The former Brighton U23s player had been considered an excellent pick up from Keith Long’s side in the off-season and he is proving his worth early on.
If he keeps it up, he could become a real asset in this division.
The Contenders To Dundalk’s Throne Keep On Winning
Two from two for St Pat’s and Shamrock Rovers who are showing all the right early signs that they will indeed be legit challengers come the end of the season.
At Tallaght Stadium, the hoops comfortably defeated Derry City by 2-0, thanks to goals from Dylan Watts and Aaron McEneff against his old club, to make it two wins from two as they sit top of the table.
It wasn’t as straight forward for St Pat’s who left it very late to beat Sligo Rovers, with striker Mikey Drennan grabbing the winner in stoppage time to also keep their 100% record alive and well.
It is, obviously, important to note how early in the season it is, and this will likely be a theme for the opening few weeks but victories are victories regardless of where in the campaign they come.
The Dublin duo are looking dangerous, while Cork and Dundalk continue to slip up.