Stephen Walsh is here with the latest talking points from the League of Ireland following a massive clash at the top of the table.
This week saw the conclusion of the second round of SSE Airtricity league games and the leaders Dundalk still haven’t been displaced despite the best efforts of Cork City and Sligo Rovers to overtake them.
During the course of games European fixtures have happened and this has meant a few fixture changes were needed so as to give the sides competing in Europe every opportunity of progress. This is the first week in many that all six games were played on the Friday night in the league and below is the report on what happened in these games.
1) Clash of the front runners
Cork City entertained Dundalk in front of a packed Turner’s Cross where Dundalk were hoping to extend their lead at the top to six points while Cork City were hoping to move joint top.
Cork City had the majority of possession in the opening fifteen minutes until Dan Murray deflected a Daryl Horgan through ball into Richie Towell’s way and the midfielder made no mistake from twelve yards and dispatched the ball past Mark McNulty to put Dundalk one up.
We then saw a spell of ill discipline from both sides with Padraig Sutton handing out six yellow cards before 27 minutes of play had gone.
The final ten minutes of the game saw the real drama occur with Darren Dennehy heading home at the back post from a John Dunleavy cross. Yet seconds later Brian Gartland got his foot to a ball in the City six yard box to poke the ball past McNulty in the City goal to break City hearts.
Dundalk ran out 2-1 winners which now move them six points clear of the rebel army going into the final round of league games.
2) Relegation dogfight
The battle at the bottom of the table to avoid the dreaded drop down to the first division won’t be decided on last weekend’s encounter but it will go some way to proving it as Bray Wanderers hosted Athlone Town.
Athlone Town had the perfect start to the game when new signing Eric Foley’s corner was headed in by captain Alan Byrne. Athlone Town for hoping to close the gap to three points on UCD in eleventh place with victory over Bray in the Carlisle Grounds as they try to get off the foot of the table.
However Michel Barker had clearly not read that part of the script as he equalised from 22 yards on the 92nd minute to gain a valuable point for a Wanderers side that is also hoping to avoid the drop down to the dreaded graveyard division.
3) Uncle Rico works his magic
Damien Richardson, back in his first managerial job since leaving Cork City back in 2007, and Drogheda United entertained UCD in United Park.
Drogheda have been improving of late with some respectable results with the memories of the 6-0 thrashing to Athlone Town merely only a distant memory at this stage of the season. UCD on the other hand have not had great form of late and need to go as far back as the 13th of July to their last points earned where they defeated Sligo Rovers 1-0.
Drogheda United opened the better of the two sides with Gavin Brennan scoring in the first half while the Student’s offered little in return.
The second half was where Drogheda really upped the ante and three goals from Cathal Brady and a brace from Gary O’ Neill settled it in favour of the Boynesiders.
UCD will be hoping for some results in the near future or else they could be seeing themselves in the first division next year playing away to Wexford and Finn Harps instead of Bohemians and Dundalk.
4) Shamrock Rovers turmoil increases
Martin Russell was yet to claim a victory managing Limerick when his side entertained a Shamrock Rovers side on a run of bad form by their usual standards.
Russell could not have hoped for a better opening 25 minutes with his side claiming three goals thanks to Rory Gaffney, Ian Turner and an own goal from Conor Kenna.
Barry Ryan made one great save to deny Seán O’Connor but apart from that Shamrock Rovers rarely threatened.
Stephen Folan got a goal on the 84th minute to make it 4-0 while O’Connor claimed a consolation goal in injury time to make it 4-1.
It was announced this morning that Trevor Croly had left his job as manager of Shamrock Rovers. Pat Fenlon is the current favourite to take over at the Tallaght Stadium.
5) Hutton gets rewarded for new contract
Peter Hutton this week signed a two-year contract to stay at the helm in the Brandywell and he was rewarded with a 4-0 victory over Bohemians. Bohemians came into this game on the back of their first home win of the season against Cork City last week and were hopeful of continuing the good form.
A brace of goals from Michael Duffy and another from Rory Patterson settled the game in favour of Derry going into the break with Bohemians struggling to muster any chances of their own.
In the second half Patterson added another goal to his earlier strike after being played in by Philip Lowry who made it 4-0 to the Candystripes. Owen Heary’s men will be hoping for a better result the next time these two sides while Hutton will be hoping his side can continue their recent trend of results.
6) St Pat’s claim eight in a row
St Patrick’s Athletic played a new look Sligo Rovers side that has seen a huge number of departures and signings in the past week at Inchicore. Sligo Rovers saw new signing Iarfhlaith Davoren start for them after his recent signing from Cork City.
The Saints got the perfect start to the game with Chris Forrester claiming the all important goal on 18 minutes when neat build up play between himself and Christy Fagan allowed him the time to shoot past Gary Rodgers from 20 yards.
Sligo went in search of an equaliser and they sent on recent loan signing Eamon Zayed to try and grab an equaliser. Things went from bad to worse for Sligo on 86 minutes when Danny North was shown a red card by Rob Rodgers for a foul on Conor McCormack.
There was still time for Zayed to have an opportunity to equalise but Brendan Clarke made a brilliant save from a one on one situation to ensure Pat’s got their eight straight win at home in Inchicore.
Stephen Walsh, Pundit Arena.