The League of Ireland Premier Division matches came thick and fast this weekend as two full rounds of league fixtures took place over the course of four days.
The normal Friday schedule was supplemented by another round on Monday, and it proved to be significant as champions Dundalk were humbled in Derry while Cork City moved three points clear at the top. Bohemians, meanwhile, seemed to have kicked into gear but the same cannot be said of 2013 champions St. Patrick’s Athletic.
Outright leaders of the Premier Division now thanks to a comeback win against Sligo Rovers. The Bit o’ Red were the only side that John Caulfield’s side failed to beat in the league last season, so to get that monkey off their back so soon into the new campaign will be a massive relief.
It looked like the same story as last year when Kieran Sadlier gave the visitors the lead midway through the first half but an immediate equaliser from Steven Beattie, and winner from Sean Maguire, was the result of City heads refusing to drop.
Five goals in five games now for the 22-year-old, a blistering start to the campaign for a striker under pressure to emulate the achievements of last season. If City do win the league this year then Maguire will almost certainly have had a massive part in it.
But for a floodlight failure, Derry City could be sharing top spot with Cork City but as it is they are still only one of two sides on maximum points, nine from three games for the Candystripes. Manager Kenny Shiels was preaching the importance of staying under the radar last week but having beaten title rivals Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk in their last two matches they may be losing that underdog status far sooner than they would like.
It seems the rumours of their demise may have been exaggerated. 2-0 down at home to Bray Wanderers in the second half on Friday night, Bohs were staring down the barrel of three demoralising defeats. One stirring three-goal comeback and a vital win at Limerick later, things are looking far better for Keith Long’s young side.
The injury absence of Ismahil Akinade was apparently going to be a big factor in Bohemians’ struggles, but Corcoran has really stepped up to the plate in that regard. Two goals and an assist against Bray, followed by the winner against Limerick, the former St. Pat’s striker seems to have settled in very well at Dalymount Park.
Harry Kenny will feel that they left the three points behind at Dalymount last Friday but three wins from four is still a strong start for the Seagulls. They will fancy their chances of picking up two wins in their next two matches, against Sligo Rovers and Limerick.
It took just two minutes for the Shamrock Rovers forward to score the opener at Eamonn Deacy Park on Monday, and the 24-year-old also popped up with the winner in the second half to ensure that the Hoops went some way to keeping up the pace on the top of the table.
Stephen Kenny can chalk results like the 3-1 defeat to Derry City off as a bad day at the office but with a trip to Turners Cross on the horizon the timing was hardly ideal. The champions felt the loss of Stephen O’Donnell in midfield especially, as Conor Clifford and Robbie Benson struggled to take charge of the midfield.
Luckily for Kenny, Dundalk face St. Pat’s at Oriel Park this weekend.
For all of the brilliance of Dundalk’s team, the goalkeeping situation appears to be something of a blindspot for Stephen Kenny. Neither Gary Rogers nor Gabriel Sava overly impressed last year (with Kenny alternating between the two) and the latter’s performance at Maginn Park was worrying. At least two (three if we’re being harsh) of the goals could be attributed to either mistakes by the Brazilian or shots he probably should have been keeping out.
After shipping goals like nobody’s business in the first two matches, Sligo have tightened up at the back for the last two. They very nearly completed their customary smash-and-grab result at Cork City too before the home side started taking their chances, but while the improvement has been gradual, they now have to start putting some points on the board. They can’t afford another slow start.
As with Sligo, it doesn’t matter how often people say that Galway are better than this, the fact is that they are currently bottom of the table. They upped their game against Shamrock Rovers on Monday but the defeat still leaves them looking up at the rest of the league.
St. Patrick’s Athletic
When does a slump become a crisis? Losing three out of the side’s opening four matches is problematic enough, but a 2-1 defeat at home to Finn Harps would really sting for Liam Buckley and his side. They now face the unenviable task of having to get something – anything – from their next two games. Unfortunately for them, their next two are against Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers.
Read More About: bohemians, Bray Wanderers, cork city, derry city, dinny corcoran, Dundalk, finn harps, galway united, gary shaw, john caulfield, kenny shiels, liam buckley, LOI Premier Division, loi premier divison, sean maguire, Sligo Rovers, st patricks athletic, stephen kenny