Shamrock Rovers 2 Sligo Rovers 0
Shamrock Rovers edged closer retaining their Premier Division crown as they cruised past Sligo Rovers to move 12 points clear at the top.
First-half goals from Danny Mandroiu and Aaron Greene saw Stephen Bradley's side to a straightforward win that would have been more emphatic but for Sligo keeper Ed McGinty.
For much of the first half of the season Sligo Rovers were considered the most credible threat to Rovers’ hold on the league title but their fortunes have diverged since the summer.
A packed South Stand housing the Shamrock Rovers took great glee in chanting “there’s only one Rovers” to their uneasy guests.
For the larger part of this game, it appeared that McGinty and the woodwork were all that prevented the tribal chant becoming prophesy as he pulled off a string of fine saves.
The home side hit the front inside the opening ten minutes as Mandroiu seized on a loose touch from David Cawley and exacted the full cost for the captain’s untimely error.
Mandroiu turned Garry Buckley right and left before darting inside and firing a low shot past Bit o’ Red keeper Ed McGinty.
Rovers had already gone close in the opening minutes through Richie Towell, who saw a curling effort clear the crossbar, and continued to pass the ball with freedom.
For all the neat interplay, it was a set-piece that very nearly led to a second goal as Dylan Watts sent in an inviting corner from the left hand side.
Lee Grace wriggled free of his marker’s attention and made firm contact with his header but McGinty was relieved to watch the ball bounce back off the crossbar.
Sligo’s poor start was compounded by the loss of full back Robbie McCourt to injury, though he was replaced by an experienced and more than able deputy in Regan Donelon.
The one-way traffic continued in the direction of the visitors’ goal and Finn was denied a glorious second as his effort was brilliantly tipped behind by Republic of Ireland under-21 cap McGinty.
Sligo did manage to produce an effort of their own on goal just past the half hour mark as the Hoops’ defence backed off, but he dragged his 25-yard shot wide.
The champions had their second barely a minute later as Mandroiu turned provider as he again won cheap possession high up the pitch, this time from Buckley.
Mandroiu delayed his pass until Greene had bent his run outwards, and from there it was all about the composure of the striker against his former club.
Greene, who won under-21 caps while at the Showgrounds early in his career, waited for McGinty to commit before dinking the ball nonchalantly over the goalkeeper.
The home side continued to dominate after the break, though Cawley did manage to draw a routine save from Mannus with a header.
Rovers felt they should have had a penalty when Mandroiu tumbled under Donelon’s challenge, and Richie Towell couldn’t beat McGinty with the loose ball.
And Mandroiu was frustrated as he was played in by an outstanding Chris McCann through ball, but his touch, for once let him down.
Roberto Lopes and subs Rory Gaffney and Neil Farrugia all rattled the woodwork in the dying minutes as the home side had to settle for just the two-goal winning margin.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Alan Mannus; Sean Gannon, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace; Ronan Finn (Sean Hoare 65), Gary O'Neill (Sean Kavanagh 72), Dylan Watts (Chris McCann 65), Barry Cotter (Neil Farrugia 65); Richie Towell, Danny Mandroiu (Rory Gaffney 77), Aaron Greene.
SLIGO ROVERS: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks, John Mahon, Garry Buckley, Robbie McCourt (Regan Donelon 15); David Cawley (Mark Byrne 63), Seamas Keogh (Johnny Kenny 46), Adam McDonnell; Walter Figueira, Melvyn Lorenzon (Colm Horgan 63), Andre Wright (Romeo Parkes 63).
Referee: Rob Hennessy (Limerick).
Drogheda United 2 Longford Town 0
Drogheda United eased their own relegation fears while condemning Longford Town to their inevitable fate with two second half goals securing the points at Head In The Game Park.
Tim Clancy’s team had suffered two straight losses – failing to score in either – before the visit of basement side Longford. Their fate has long been known. Even the hardy band of supporters from the Midlands visit with Boyneside with no expectation and not much more hope.
Longford were the perfect folly for Drogheda to bounce back against. United had hit nine goals in three games against them this term. Second-half goals from the irrepressible Darragh Markey and Mark Doyle sent their opponents down.
Waterford’s win over Finn Harps would have confirmed their fate anyway but it was a chastening night in Drogheda.
The hosts dominated throughout and were fully deserving of their lead when it arrived early in the second period.
Lee Steacy fumbled Doyle’s shot and Markey tapped in from close range. He then turned provider for Doyle, who headed in his precise cross to leave Steacy stranded, and Longford well beaten. United had approached the game with a real attacking mindset. Wing-back and captain for the night James Brown was central to everything good about Drogheda.
DROGHEDA UNITED: Odumosu; Redmond, O'Reilly, Massey; Brown (Clarke, 90+1), Deegan, Phillips, Kane; Markey (Heeney, 73), Lyons (Adeyemo, 73), Doyle.
LONGFORD TOWN: Steacy; Elworthy, McDonnell, O'Driscoll, Lynch; Nugent (McNally, 84), Dervin, Robinson; Manley (Davis, 68), Williams, Byrne (Grimes, 61).
Referee: John McLoughlin (Westmeath
Derry City 1 St Patrick’s Ath 0
Derry City maintained their challenge for a place in European football following this slender defeat of a well organised, yet frustrated St Pat’s, at the Brandywell.
In what proved a sensational game, which saw two players send off during the latter stages, Derry claimed victory thanks to a 64th minute strike by Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, a goal fashion by a superb delivery from the right flank by Jamie McGonigle.
That said, Pat’s clearly bossed this affair during a frenetic first half and, indeed, they really should have entered the break in front but for their failure in the final third of the pitch.
The visitors made their intentions known from the outset and they got into their slick passing mode almost immediately causing Derry no shortage of problems.
And that early effort almost reaped dividends after just five minutes when a cross from Darragh Burns found the head of Matty Smith who sent the ball crashing off the Derry upright.
Seven minutes later Pat’s were on the offensive again with Smith sent through one-on-one with home keeper, Nathan Gartside, who managed to get a block on the shot much to the delight of the home faithful.
As the game entered the latter stages, controversy reigned when two players – one from each side – were sent off by referee, Rob Harvey.
In the 83rd minute, St Pat’s sub, Ryan Coughlin, was shown a straight red card when he appeared to raise his elbow to make contact with Ciaran Coll and as both sets of players responded, Derry’s Danny Lafferty was shown a second yellow for reacting, Lafferty having been booked minutes earlier.
With both sides reduced to 10 men, Sam Bone was denied by Gartside fro close range as the Candystripes held out during a nervous six additional minutes.
DERRY CITY: Gartside; Boyce, Toal, McJannet, Coll; Harkin, McLaughlin (Malone, 58); Ogedi-Uzokwe, Thomson, Lafferty; McGonigle (Fitzgerald, 89).
ST PAT'S ATHLETIC: Jaros; Bone (Nwoko, 89), Desmond, Abankwah (Coughlan, 81), Griffin (Bermingham, 74); Burns, Lennon (Benson, 74), Lewis; King (McClelland, 74), Smith, Forrester.
Referee: R Harvey (Dublin).
Bohemians 1 Dundalk 1
Georgie Kelly salvaged a point for Bohemians with a stoppage time penalty to bring a fitful game to a dramatic finish at Dalymount Park.
Trailing to Sami Ben Amar’s first half goal, Bohemians got their reward for a far more industrious second half display in the 91st minute.
Referee Damien MacGraith initially gave a free out when Dundalk defender Dan Cleary clashed with Bohemians winger Ali Coote on the edge of the area. But after consulting with an assistant, he changed his mind and pointed to the spot.
To add to the theatre, Kelly’s poor penalty squirmed under the legs of Peter Cherrie to roll into the corner of the net for his 19th league goal of the campaign.
After a sluggish start, the game had sparked to life on 28 minutes when Dundalk took the lead out of nothing.
Gypsies' left-back Tyreke Wilson's weak header back to James Talbot never got there as his goalkeeper collided with the inrushing Patrick Hoban.
The ball bounced up invitingly for Ben Amar for the Frenchman to nonchalantly lob into the unguarded net.
With more of a cutting edge to Bohemians’ game on the resumption, Promise Omochere brought the save of the game from Cherrie on 63 minutes before Anto Breslin also worked the Dundalk keeper.
BOHEMIANS: Talbot; Lyons, Cornwall, Breslin, Wilson; Devoy (Ward, 81), Levingston (Buckley, 73); Omochere (Mullins, 73), Tierney (Coote, 60), Burt (Idowu, 73); G. Kelly.
DUNDALK: Cherrie; Sloggett, Cleary, Boyle, Leahy; Ben Amar (Kelly, 67), Stanton, Patching (Animasahun, 83), Duffy; Murray; Hoban (McMillan, 45+1).
Referee: Damien MacGraith (Mayo).
Waterford FC 4 Finn Harps 1
Ten-man Waterford scored twice in second-half injury time to move within a point of Finn Harps in a pulsating relegation battle played at the RSC on Friday night.
Marc Bircham's side broke the deadlock on 19 minutes when Jack Stafford sent Junior Quitirna clear down the left. His cross was cleared by Ryan Rainey into the path of Patterson, who scored for the third game running with a cracking right-footed strike from the top of the penalty area.
Waterford doubled their lead on 69 minutes when Kyle Ferguson’s long ball out of defence saw Harps goalkeeper Mark McGinley fail to handle, and Junior Quitirna nipped in to slip the ball into the empty net from the right-hand-side of the area.
Waterford goalkeeper Brian Murphy was sent off after he struck Harps defender Kosovar Sadiki while trying to make a clearance, which resulted in a penalty on 72 minutes. Although Matt Connor guessed the right way, he couldn’t keep the spot kick from Tunde Owolabi out.
Junior Quitirna turned provider for John Martin for a third goal in injury time, before the former completed the scoring with a magnificent goal after some outstanding play from Patterson and Anthony Wordsworth.
WATERFORD FC: Murphy, Halford, Ferguson, Nolan, Stafford, Wordsworth, Griffin (Connor '74), O'Keeffe, Patterson, Quitirna, Martin.
FINN HARPS: Doherty (McGinley '33), McEleney, Webster, Sadiki, Mustoe, O'Sullivan, Coyle, Rainey, Foley, Owolabi, Hawkins (Dunleavy '46).
Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork).