Simon Bracken rounds up the latest gameweek from the League of Ireland, one that will be remembered for a golazo from 34-year-old Colin Healy of Cork City.
Damien Richardson did his old club a favour as Drogheda held Dundalk to a draw in the Louth derby, allowing Cork City to move back to within four points of the leaders.
Pat Hoban looked to have headed Dundalk on their way to another win with the 19th minute opener their play deserved but the Drogs struck back immediately through Gary O’Neill to kill any momentum. From then on it was a typical tightly contested derby which neither side really deserved to win.
Drogheda have left their relegation worries behind them with having turned their form around and will look to build for next season under new management. Dundalk have struggled at United Park in recent times and they will be frustrated to have given Cork hope again having utterly deflated them last week.
That hope was restored when Colin Healy scored an 88th minute overhead kick to earn a 1-0 win for Cork over St. Pats and send Turner’s Cross into delirium. The game itself was mediocre fare with neither side producing their best. However, Mark Quigley’s red card 11 minutes from time was the catalyst for a late Cork surge and Healy’s moment of inspiration could prove to be just that for the Leesiders in the run in. The win ends a run of three defeats for City and they travel to Derry on Friday with renewed vigour as they look to keep the pressure on Dundalk.
The Champions will be bitterly disappointed as the result effectively ends their hopes of retaining the title. Liam Buckley’s team have been plagued by their poor away form all season, winning just once in their last eight trips. Their only hope is to win all their remaining games and hope the others slip up but ten points is surely too much.
Shamrock Rovers are in the same position but their focus is on simply securing a European place after a turbulent season. Pat Fenlon’s first game in charge of his boyhood side saw the Hoops beat Derry 2-0 much to the relief of Tallaght Stadium. Second half goals from Ronan Finn and Des Kelly saw them come out on top in an even match.
The visitors had the better of the first half and could easily have led at the break but Rovers took their chances in the second half to start the Fenlon era on the right foot. Both of Derry’s in form strikers have picked up injuries and their excellent run is coming undone. They will look to return to form at home to Cork on Friday.
On Thursday night, Limerick heaped yet more misery on Bray Wanderers, winning 4-1 at Thomond Park for the second time in a week. Rory Gaffney netted a hat-trick as Alan Russell’s dream start continues. David Scully’s sending off killed was what had been a close game and Bray fell to a fifth straight away defeat in all competitions. Even more worryingly, they haven’t won a league game anywhere since early May and relegation is a distinct possibility. The clash with UCD in a fortnight’s time at the Carlisle Grounds will be huge.
UCD themselves played out a dour draw with Bohs but the clean sheet is a positive given they had conceded ten in the previous two games. After a daunting trip to Pats on Friday UCD face a defining week with matches against both Athlone and Bray. Those results will play a huge role in the relegation picture.
Owen Heary’s side would have expected to win but they lacked the creativity required to break down the Students and they were perhaps suffering a hangover from their cup semi-final defeat midweek.
The final game of the weekend came at the Showgrouds where Sligo beat Athlone 3-1, thanks to a Johnny Russell strike and a late brace from Evan McMillan. Aaron O’Neill scored his first goal for Athlone but it was just a consolation for the bottom club who need to start picking up points quickly.
Airtricity Premier Division results 7-9th August:
Limerick 4-1 Bray Wanderers
Cork City 1-0 St. Pats
UCD 0-0 Bohemians
Drogheda United 1-1 Dundalk
Shamrock Rovers 2-0 Derry City
Sligo Rovers 3-1 Athlone Town