Airtricity League round-up: Shamrock Rovers take six-point lead into midseason break after rout of UCD

Derry City and Bohemians draw at the Brandywell; Drogheda secure last-gasp winner over St Patrick’s Athletic

Shamrock Rovers 4 UCD 0

Shamrock Rovers moved six points clear at the top of the SSE Airtricity Premier Division with a comfortable victory over basement side UCD at Tallaght Stadium.

Rovers predictably dominated possession from the word go and the deadlock was broken on 15 minutes when UCD defender Harvey O’Brien turned the ball into his own net following an initial cross by Neil Farrugia.

It seemed like only a matter of time before Stephen Bradley’s men doubled their lead and a second goal duly arrived in the 26th minute as Jack Byrne scrambled home after the UCD defence failed to deal with a Graham Burke delivery from the left wing.


Farrugia was having a huge impact against his former side and he provided the spadework for Burke to score the goal that guided the Hoops towards a 3-0 interval cushion.

Despite Bradley making a triple substitution on the resumption – to supplement Rory Gaffney’s introduction for the injured Aaron Greene in the opening period – Rovers continued to dictate affairs.

Kieran Cruise made a sizeable impact off the bench by grabbing his first goal in senior football on 56 minutes and the defending champions will now enter the forthcoming two-week break knowing their quest for a fourth successive top-flight title is very much on course.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Pohls; Hoare, Lopes (Noonan, 46), Grace; Farrugia, O’Neill, Poom (Nugent, 46 mins), Kavanagh; Byrne (Cruise, 46), Burke (Burt, 61); Greene (Gaffney, 35).

UCD: Moore; O’Brien (Bowden, 78), Gallagher, Wells; Babb, Keaney, Barr (Donoghue, 88), Osam; Nolan, Doyle, Norris (Bishop, 59).

Referee: D Dunne (Dublin).

Derry City 0 Bohemians 0

Referee Damian McGraith emerged as the centre of attention at the Brandywell on Friday night as the big crowd were left furious that the Mayo official refused to award the home side with what appeared a clearcut penalty during the latter stages of the game.

With 90 minutes completed, the home supporters screamed for a penalty as Bohemians centre back Krystian Nowak appeared the handle the ball twice while challenging Jamie McGonigle in the box, with Derry boss Ruaidhrí Higgins shown a yellow card following his disgust at the decision.

After what proved a disappointing display by both sides through the first half, Derry upped the intensity after the break but failed to take advantage of a number of clearcut scoring opportunities.

Both sides made three changes following last Monday’s defeats but it was Derry who got off to a lively start with Ben Doherty’s early free curling dangerously into the box but lone striker Cian Kavanagh failed to get on to the end of the cross.

At the other end, Derry midfielder Sadou Diallo lost possession to James Akintunde in a vital area and brought him down. However, Jordan Flores’s free from 20 yards was driven into the defensive wall.

On 15 minutes the home side really should have moved into the driving seat. A superb cross from Diallo was met by Kavanagh but he failed to force the ball home from close range.

Flores played a superb crossfield pass in the 27th minute and while Declan McDaid did well to take the ball in his stride, he failed to hit the target with a tame effort.

Derry upped the intensity following the change of ends, starting with a teasing cross from Michael Duffy but Adam O’Reilly failed to divert the ball to the net.

Duffy then delivered another threatening cross into the danger area but O’Reilly was denied by a superb last-gasp tackle from Patrick Kirk.

Within a minute Derry’s Cameron McJannet’s shot was blocked by a defender, the ball going wide at the expense of a corner.

As the game move into the latter stages Bohs goalkeeper Brian Talbot pulled off two top-class saves to keep the home side at bay, denying Duffy with five minutes remaining and 60 seconds later he got down well to block an effort from Derry substitute Ollie O’Neill.

After the disallowed penalty, Brandon Kavanagh then squandered a superb chance in injury-time when Duffy delivered another teasing cross, but the Dubliner headed high and wide when well placed.

DERRY CITY: Maher; Boyce, S. McEleney, McJannet, Coll; Diallo, Doherty (O’Neill, 80); Graydon (B. Kavanagh, 88), O’Reilly, Duffy; C. Kavanagh (McGonigle, 80).

BOHEMIANS: Talbot; Horton, Nowak, Radkowski, Kirk; McDonnell (O’Sullivan, 79), Buckley; Coote (Clarke 78), Flores, McDaid (Afolabi, 70); Akintunde (Connolly, 60).

Referee: D. McGraith (Mayo).

Drogheda United 2 St Patrick’s Athletic 1

Drogheda United produced one of the results of the season as Darragh Markey’s 94th-minute winner downed St Patrick’s Athletic at Weavers Park.

Markey’s strike was the last meaningful kick of an extraordinary match that United had led through Adam Foley’s stunning volley. Chris Forrester levelled from the spot before half-time but Markey’s breakaway goal stole the points.

Drogheda took a surprise lead against the league’s in-form outfit when Foley volleyed in a goal of the highest quality. Dayle Rooney’s superb pass was matched by the forward’s first-time volley that arrowed into the net, leaving Dean Lyness beaten.

Paul McLaughlin pointed to the spot when Ryan Brennan tangled with Forrester and the midfielder scored his 10th goal of a fruitful season from the spot to haul St Pat’s level. He is on course to far surpass his best career goalscoring season and in his ninth full season at the club is powering their resurgence under Jon Daly.

Lyness denied Drogheda’s own goalscorer in chief Freddie Draper after Markey had fed him in the area for the first time. Another volley attempt fell Foley’s way but second time around, his effort lacked the control of his first.

Sam Curtis and Forrester were denied by teenage goalkeeper Andrew Wogan at the other end. However, the hosts looked more likely. Lyness superbly denied Rooney in the closing stages but he could do nothing to stop Markey.

DROGHEDA UNITED: Wogan; Ahui, Adegboyega, Keeley, Weir; Deegan, Brennan; Foley (Heeney, 84), Markey, Rooney; Draper.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Lyness; Curtis, Lewis (Brockbank, 79), McGrath, Breslin; Lennon, Forrester, Timmermans (Murphy, 55); Carty (Melia, 79), Lonergan (E Doyle, 64), M Doyle (McCormack, 64).

Referee: Paul McLaughlin

Shelbourne 1 Sligo Rovers 1

Shelbourne couldn’t christen their big announcement earlier in the day of the arrival of businessman Acun Ilicali as their new majority shareholder with a victory as they had to settle for a point in a game they almost lost at the death.

Turkish businessman Ilicali, who becomes the club’s new chairman, is set to bring major investment to the Drumcondra club across the board from the men’s and women’s teams, through to the club’s academy and facilities.

Ilicali, who also wholly owns English Championship club Hull City, says his ambition is to make Shelbourne Ireland’s most successful football club.

Though unbeaten in four, and having lost just once in 13, the result sees Shelbourne drop out of the top half of the table.

Sligo sit just below them having trooped off at the finish wondering how they didn’t win the game in its dying embers when having an effort cleared off the line before hitting the crossbar.

With four changes from Monday’s 3-2 win over Drogheda United, Shelbourne gratefully accepted the gift of a fourth-minute goal.

Nando Pijnaker miscontrolled an innocuous long ball from Shane Farrell. Seán Boyd was alert to skip away to the end line to pull the ball back for Matty Smith to finish at the near post.

Redemption was close for defender Pijanker just minutes later when the New Zealand international powered a header just over the crossbar from Johan Brannefalk’s corner.

A loose ball then bounced up invitingly for Will Fitzgerald whose crisply struck volley was tipped round a post by Shelbourne goalkeeper Conor Kearns as Sligo dominated the ball.

That said, Shelbourne should have doubled their lead from another defensive mistake on 29 minutes.

Left back Danny Lafferty’s back pass ran straight for substitute Jack Moylan with goalkeeper Luke McNicholas salvaging the situation when standing up well to save with his feet.

Having survived that, Sligo deservedly levelled on 34 minutes.

Moylan’s headed clearance following another Brannefalk corner dropped for Niall Morahan who beat Kearns with a terrific dipping volley from some 25 yards.

Though Shelbourne had more about them on the resumption, their endeavour failed to translate to any significant threat to the visitors’ goal.

And it was the 82nd minute before Sligo really threatened, substitute Kailin Barlow showing clever feet to arrow a drive narrowly wide.

Then in a dramatic finish, Sligo had two chances to snatch victory in stoppage-time.

First the well-placed Moylan headed off the line from John Mahon before Max Mata saw his header strike the crossbar from a Danny Lafferty cross.

SHELBOURNE: Kearns; Quinn, Molloy, Griffin, T Wilson; Farrell (Ledwidge, 72), Coyle (Robinson, 72), Lunney, Caffrey; Smith (Moylan, 14), Boyd (Hakiki, 57).

SLIGO ROVERS: McNicholas; Brannefalk, Mahon, Pijnaker, Lafferty; Bolger (Barlow, 58); Morahan, Browning (Cawley, 66), Fitzgerald; Liivak (Radosavljevic, 66), Mata.

Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin).

Cork City 1 Dundalk 2

Dundalk came from behind to go into the midseason break on a high after a deserved win against Cork City at Turners Cross.

The away side had an early opportunity when, from a Ryan O’Kane corner kick, Patrick Hoban saw his shot easily saved by Jimmy Corcoran in the City goal.

It was City who went into the lead on 20 minutes. Following a well-worked move from the home side a good ball into the box from Kevin Čustović was knocked into his own net by Dundalk defender Louie Annesley.

City were looking high on confidence, with Tunde Owolabi denied by an excellent save by Dundalk goalkeeper Nathan Sheppard from close range.

On the stroke of half-time, Dundalk equalised when a corner kick by Ryan O’Kane evaded everyone and ended up in the back of the net.

The Lilywhites had a great chance to take the lead on 64 minutes as Rayhann Tulloch blasted over when the ball fell kindly into his path around the edge of the penalty area.

Heading into the final five minutes Dundalk deservedly went ahead. When the ball broke to him in the penalty area, John Martin instinctively headed into the back of the net.

CORK CITY: Corcoran; Čustović, Honohan, Coleman, Gilchrist, O’Donovan (Krezic, 81); Healy, Bolger, Coffey (Bargary, 81); Owolabi (Murphy, 85) Keating.

DUNDALK: Sheppard; Leahy, Annesley, Boyle, Davies; O’Kane (Doyle, 89), Yli-Kokko (Malley, 58), Sloggett, Kelly (Tulloch, 58); Hoban, Elliott (Martin, 78).

Referee: Rob Hennessy.