It was all about the Unite the Union Champions Cup over the weekend as the champions from the SSE Airtricity League Premier League Dundalk took on their Northern Ireland counterparts Linfield. At stake along with the cup itself was €50,000 prize money.
And it was Dundalk who proved triumphant winning 7-1 on aggregate over the two legs and in the process claiming their third major trophy of the season. They put the disappointment of their FAI Cup final defeat against Shamrock Rovers behind them. The first leg had been played last Friday evening in Windsor Park with the sides playing out a 1-1 draw. Shane Lavery gave Linfield the lead with Daniel Kelly getting the equaliser for the Lillywhites. The second leg was a far less close affair.
Dundalk won 6-0 in Oriel Park in a game which was at times embarrassingly one-sided. Georgie Kelly, Brian Gartland, Jamie McGrath, Robbie Benson, and Patrick Hoban all got their goals, with Kelly scoring two. For Benson, it was his last significant action in a Dundalk jersey as he confirmed after the game that he is leaving the champions.
He is expected to link up with his former teammate Stephen O’Donnell and sign for St. Patrick’s Athletic. The Supersaints have already made one addition to their ranks as they have brought in Jason McClelland from UCD. One player who won’t be leaving Oriel Park is veteran defender Brian Gartland. He was also linked to a move to Richmond Park but stated after the Linfield game that he will be staying with the Lillywhites.
It was a busy week in terms of postseason moves. Shelbourne FC are preparing for life back in the Premier Division following on from their First Division win. They signed experienced winger/striker Karl Sheppard following on from his release from Cork City.
A couple of players have headed for warmer climates, such as Dundalk defender Stephen Folan who signed for South Melbourne FC in Australia. Also heading down under is Harry Ascroft. After his spell with Finn Harps, he has now signed for Dandenong Thunder who are also based in Melbourne.
Another departure from the league is Dylan McGlade. He has left Bray Wanderers to sign for National League North side Blythe Spartans where he has previously played before. Sligo Rovers announced that two of their international players would be leaving the club as neither Canadian Kris Twardek or Bermudan Dante Leverock are signing back. Also departing the Showgrounds is Sam Warde who had signed for the club from Colchester during the season.