A special Monday bonus of Premier Division fixtures saw Cork City get back to winning ways with a hard-fought victory over Shamrock Rovers.
A first-half penalty from Kieran Sadlier was enough to give John Caulfield’s men all three points on a cold night on Leeside, in a game of precious few chances.
Elsewhere, Dundalk were held to their third scoreless draw of the season by St. Patrick’s Athletic, Waterford made it four wins from five with a 1-0 victory over Bohemians, Derry City hammered Limerick 5-0 on their return to the Brandywell, and Bray Wanderers fell to their fourth defeat of the year with a 2-1 reversal at home to Sligo Rovers.
But what did we learn from the latest round of Premier Division action?
Cork City put their Dundalk frustration behind them quickly
With Cork City turning in a poor performance a Oriel Park last Friday, Monday’s clash with Shamrock Rovers could have gone either way. Would they be unsure of themselves having lost to their biggest rivals for the first time in eight games, or would they go out all guns blazing and put Rovers to the sword?
What happened was sort of in between, but it was enough to get the job done. It wasn’t a classic at Turner’s Cross by any means, but with the visitors looking uncharacteristically toothless in attack, there was only ever going to be one winner. City’s young defence deserves an enormous amount of credit, while they certainly looked the stronger of the two sides up front.
City look to have put the pain of last weekend behind them, and head to Limerick on Friday in high spirits.
Shamrock Rovers need to have more belief in themselves
It might sound a bit ridiculous to suggest that Shamrock Rovers are lacking in confidence, particularly as they have been telling anyone who’ll listen that they are genuine title contenders despite not even coming close to challenging in the last few years – and yet, their performance at Turner’s Cross was surprisingly timid.
Right from Stephen Bradley’s decision to leave Trevor Clarke on the bench, it was obvious that the visitors were reacting to City’s tactics rather than attempting to force the game on their own terms. The match itself followed a similar pattern, Rovers were strong in the tackle and up for it in certain areas, but just seemed to lack that killer instinct up front and rarely looked like scoring.
The two previous results were encouraging, and they’ll have far more good nights than bad this year, but the next time they travel to Leeside (or Oriel Park), they need to do so playing like they know they can win.
Bray Wanderers are in big trouble
It’s too early to launch fully into panic stations, but a record of four defeats and one draw (at Oriel Park, bizarrely) cannot be ignored. Dave Mackey’s side fell to a narrow defeat at home to Sligo Rovers on Monday, and while that would not be worrisome in isolation, it’s the latest of four straight defeats that have left them slightly adrift at the bottom of the Premier Division already.
Losing to Limerick last weekend was arguably the costlier of the two defeats, as Tommy Barrett’s side were tipped in some quarters to be Bray’s closest rivals in the battle to avoid the drop. Of greater concern still is the fact that they have scored just twice this season. Friday night’s trip to the Brandywell is a match that they simply have to get something from, to boost confidence if nothing else.
Derry City’s home form can save their season
Derry City began the campaign with the worrying run of three defeats from four, and while nobody was suggesting that the Cnadystripes could go down, the chances of meeting their aim of qualifying for Europe took a bit of a hammering those opening few weeks.
n that sense, the long-awaited return to the Brandywell couldn’t have come at a better time for Kenny Shiels and his men. The early-season travails were soon forgotten about on Monday night as Limerick were put to the sword, Ronan Hale starring in an emphatic 5-0 win for the hosts.
Making the Brandywell a fortress has to be the aim from here on out, and with Bray Wanderers the visitors this weekend, Derry City won’t get a better opportunity to get two wins on the spin and build momentum at their home.