After considerable success in Europe midweek, the Airtricity League clubs returned to domestic action at the weekend, where the biggest result saw Shamrock Rovers overcome St. Pats 2-1 at Tallaght Stadium to further condense the battle at the top. Just four points separate the top four.
Dean Kelly gave the hosts the lead after just two minutes, before the league’s top scorer, Christy Fagan, equalised just nine minutes later. It was an open game with both sides having plenty of chances, before Gary McCabe scored what proved to be the winning goal for Rovers in the 54th minute.
This was a fiery encounter as is often the case when the Dublin rivals meet and it resulted in both Irish internationals, Stephen McPhail and then Keith Fahey, seeing red cards. Trevor Croly’s side held out for the win which sets them up very nicely for their clash with Dundalk on Friday. Meanwhile, the champions continue to struggle on the road. They are now without a win in five league games, a record they will look to improve at Dalymount Park on Friday.
Both sides will be glad to have seen Cork City drop points on Sunday night at the Showgrounds in an entertaining 0-0 draw. Both sides created chances but found the respective goalkeepers in excellent form. Garry Buckley had an opportunity to win in late on for City but his header hit the bar and both teams had to accept a share of the spoils.
John Coleman will be reasonably pleased to have held the league’s form team in his first home game while City have maintained their remarkable run of six consecutive clean sheets in all competitions.
Sligo face Lithuanian side Banga in the return leg of their Europa League tie on Thursday. City face Birmingham in a friendly, a game which could see John O’Flynn make his first appearance for the club in six years, before travelling to Drogheda on Friday.
Drogheda themselves picked up a long overdue win on Friday night at the Carlisle Grounds. Gavin Brennan got the visitors off to a great start with a goal in the 4th minute before Jake Kelly responded for Bray. Gavan Holohan scored a wonderful individual goal to give the Drogs the lead just before half-time and things got worse for the hosts when Adam Mitchell got sent off for a second bookable offence on the hour mark. Cathal Brady wrapped it up for Darius Kierans’ side and sealed their first win in seven games.
Bray will be hugely disappointed to have lost to a relegation rival and their winless league run now stands at six. They travel to Derry next week desperately searching for an improvement in form while Drogheda will hope to cause an upset at home to Cork.
Bohemians are the enigma of the league. Their performances at Dalymount have been appalling but Friday night’s win at Thomond Park was their fourth consecutive away win in all competitions. A second half comeback capped by an 89th minute winner from Eoin Wearen saw off Limerick after Stephen Folan’s early opener had been cancelled out by Patrick Kavanagh.
Dinny Corcoran missed another penalty for Bohs, something which has to worry Owen Heary but he’ll be delighted to have picked up the three points. Limerick lost Danny Galbraith on a free last week and will be hoping to return to winning ways at Athlone on Friday.
The bottom club were unfortunate not to carry on their good home form, falling to a Patrick McEleney special against Derry City. The winger scored the only goal of the game from a direct free kick to give the Candystripes a victory their play hardly deserved. Peter Hutton’s side are up to sixth in the table and comfortably lead their Europa League tie ahead of a trip to Wales on Thursday. Athlone will hope to keep the pressure on UCD with a win on Friday.
Airtricity Premier Division 4th-6th July:
Bray Wanderers 1-3 Drogheda United
Limerick 1-2 Bohemians
Shamrock Rovers 2-1 St. Patrick’s Athletic
Athlone Town 0-1 Derry City
Sligo Rovers 0-0 Cork City
Simon Bracken, Pundit Arena.