Shamrock Rovers 2 Dundalk 0
Shamrock Rovers are back on top of the League of Ireland table after Aaron Greene’s double sank Dundalk in Tallaght Stadium.
The 33-year-old had played just 152 minutes this season before this game but showed all his experience to score his second and third goals of the campaign to get the champions back to winning ways following successive defeats against Drogheda Utd and Cork City.
It was no more than the Hoops deserved despite playing the bulk of the second half a man light following captain Ronan Finn’s dismissal – their fourth red card in the last two matches.
Dundalk goalkeeper Nathan Shepperd was called into action twice in the first half to make big saves from Greene and Gary O’Neill but he was finally beaten on 34 minutes when Finn’s cross from the right was turned in by Greene at the near post.
Finn then went from hero to zero when he was dismissed four minutes into the second half for a foul on Rayhann Tulloch as he burst through on goal following a loose pass from Roberto Lopes.
Rovers ensured there would be no slip-ups, however, by making it 2-0 on 62 minutes as Rory Gaffney released Greene in behind the Dundalk defence as he rounded Shepperd to slot home.
Shamrock Rovers: Pohls; Cleary, Lopes, Grace; Finn, Byrne (Burt 75), O’Neill, Poom, Kavanagh (Gannon 64); Greene (Cruise 86), Gaffney (Nugent 75).
Dundalk: Shepperd; Davies, Muller (Elliott 71), Boyle, Leahy; Sloggett (Ward 63), Malley, Doyle (Lewis 63); Kelly (O’Kane 71), Hoban, Tulloch.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).
Derry City 0 Shelbourne 0
Derry City surrendered their leadership of the Premier Division having been held by Damien Duff’s Shelbourne at the Brandywell.
And the share of the spoils extended Duff’s unbeaten record at the Foyleside venue having taken four points from a possible six last season.
And while Duff will be delighted with another share of the spoils, he will also point to a solid first-half display when, in truth, Shelbourne will have been disappointed not to have led the game having missed a penalty and smashed another effort off the upright.
That said, Derry finished the game on the offensive with Shelbourne producing a professional performance to deservedly hold out in the end. Michael Duffy was denied at the death, his free-kick skimming over the crossbar for the final action of the game.
Shelbourne went so close to moving into the driving seat in the 15th minute when Kyle Robinson crashed a superb shot off the upright following a pass from Shane Farrell on the right.
And Duff’s side remained on the front foot, keeping the Derry defence under pressure.
In what was proving an exciting end-to-end encounter, both sides then created superb scoring chances within minutes of each other.
In the 32nd minute a superb pass from Mark Connolly found Michael Duffy who beat the offside trap and as Shelbourne keeper Conor Kearns advanced, the Derry winger lobbed the ball over the keeper’s head before John Ross Wilson got back to whip the ball off his goal line. It was a sensational save by the central defender.
Having breathed a sigh of relief, Shels pushed forward and they were awarded a penalty in the 34th minute when Ciaran Coll brought Shane Farrell crashing down to earth as he surged inside the danger area.
Farrell then stepped up to take the spot-kick and, to the delight of the home faithful, Brian Maher pulled off a superb save when diverting the ball over his crossbar.
Following the change of ends, Derry continued on the attack and when Duffy delivered a pinpoint cross to the back post which was met by Ben Doherty, the defender squandered the chance when heading the ball over the crossbar from close range.
Jamie McGonigle went so close to ending his barren spell when he rose majestically to head a Ronan Boyce cross down into the feet of Kearns, who managed to scramble the ball clear in the 50th minute.
Shelbourne’s Jack Moylan did well to set JR Wilson up with a decent chance but the full-back produced a tame effort and Maher got down well to make the save.
On the hour Robinson broke again when Moylan sent him scampering clear into a one-on-one situation but Maher produced another top drawer stop.
DERRY CITY: Maher; Boyce, Connolly, McJannet, Coll, Dohertyj (Graydon, 61); P. McEleney (McEneff, 84), Dummigan; O’Reilly (Patching, 84), McGonigle (C. Kavanagh, 74), Duffy.
SHELBOURNE: Kearns; J. Wilson, Quinn, Griffin, Ledwidge; Coyle (Lunney, 80), Caffrey, Farrell (Hakiki, 70); Robinson (Smith, 64), Moylan (Boyd, 70), T. Wilson.
REFEREE: Rob Hennessy.
Bohemians 2 Sligo Rovers 0
James Clarke and Declan McDaid found the net at Dalymount Park last night as Bohemians held on to third spot in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division table with a convincing triumph over Sligo Rovers.
Without a win in their previous four league games, Bohs had a sight at goal on 18 minutes from a Jordan Flores free-kick. Luke McNicholas was equal to the Wigan native’s effort on that occasion, but the Sligo netminder was powerless to prevent industrious Gypsies midfielder James Clarke from hammering home a deadlock-breaker on 32 minutes.
This left the visitors staring into a 1-0 interval deficit and with Eanna Clancy and Greg Bolger both being forced off through injury before the opening period had elapsed, it was looking ominous for John Russell’s side.
While Sligo did bring plenty of energy to the action on the resumption, their travelling supporters breathed a sigh of relief when a Krystian Nowak header via an Ali Coote set-piece delivery rebounded off their crossbar on 59 minutes.
The hosts continued to threaten, however, and were ultimately propelled towards their 10th league victory of 2023 on the third-quarter mark, when substitute McDaid drilled a low shot past McNicholas following initial approach play by Kris Twardek and Coote.
BOHEMIANS: Talbot; Benn, Nowak, Radkowski, Flores; McDonnell, Buckley; Coote (Lotefa, 91 mins), Clarke (O’Sullivan, 78 mins), Twardek; Akintunde (McDaid, 61 mins).
SLIGO ROVERS: McNicholas; Brannefalk, Morahan, Clancy (Lafferty, 9 mins), Hutchinson; Bolger (Browning, 29 mins), Cawley; Liivak, Barlow (Radosavljevic, 66 mins), Fitzgerald; Mata.
Referee: E O’Shea (Tipperary).
Drogheda United 0 Cork City 1
For the first time since the heady days of their top-of-the-table Premier Division rivalry with Dundalk, Cork City have won three successive top-flight matches, courtesy of a narrow defeat of Drogheda United.
A first victory in 21 top-tier matches has lifted Cork to within two points of Kevin Doherty’s team, who despite a recent upturn in form of their own, now are looking nervously over their shoulder at the coming force from the south.
Whilst there is still much room for improvement, the Leesiders look a different proposition under Liam Buckley. Babatunde Owolabi capitalised on poor Drogheda defending just before the hour mark to score the game’s decisive only goal.
The home team had done enough to warrant a point and thus maintain the status quo towards the foot of the table. Ryan Brennan went close with a shot from distance before half-time while Dayle Rooney had a glimpse of goal, too.
Owolabi’s fourth goal of the season settled matters but he had issued Drogheda with a handful of reminders of his own threat before that. Colin McCabe twice saved from him, and he hit the side netting. A failure to convert didn’t matter in the end.
Drogheda United: McCabe; Heeney (Ahui, 75), Adegboyega, Keeley, McNally; Deegan, Brennan; Grimes (Foley, 46), Markey, Rooney; Draper.
Cork City: Corcoran; Honohan, Coleman, Gilchrist; Crowley (Walker, 5), Healy, Bolger, Custovic; Coffey (O’Brien-Whitmarsh, 89); Keating, Owolabi (Murphy, 89).
Referee: Neil Doyle