Dundalk have retained the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title, and did so in the best possible fashion by beating second-place side Shamrock Rovers 3-2 in a rain-swept Oriel Park last night. Sean Hoare, Robbie Benson and Michael Duffy each scored their goals, while on the other side Aaron Greene and Aaron McEneff got the goals for Shamrock.
For Dundalk, it is their fifth league title in the last six seasons. For their head coach/manager Vinny Perth it is his first since he took charge after Stephen Kenny left in the offseason.
They got into that position courtesy of their 1-0 win against Waterford FC in the Regional Sports Centre on Friday evening, with Daniel Kelly scoring the game’s only goal. Meanwhile, Shamrock had played out a goalless draw with St. Patrick’s Athletic in the Tallaght Stadium, as the new St. Pat’s manager Stephen O’Donnell continued on with his unbeaten start.
Sligo Rovers continued their run of good form with a 2-0 win away against UCD in the UCD Bowl. The first was an own goal from UCD goalkeeper Conor Kearns and the second was scored by Romeo Parkes. They had to play most of the game with ten men as Ronan Murray was sent off in the 19th minute.
That defeat has all but relegated UCD back to the First Division. The two sides above them in the table, Finn Harps and Cork City, clashed in Turner’s Cross and played out a goalless draw. UCD are now six points adrift of Harps with four games remaining.
It was also goalless in the division’s remaining game between Derry City and Bohemian FC in the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium. The most notable thing about the game was the debut of Evan Ferguson, who came on in the second half and is only 14 which has sparked a lot of debate as to the merits of playing someone so young in senior football.
The curtain came down on the First Division over the weekend. Shelbourne celebrated their title win and with it automatic promotion in emphatic fashion. They beat Limerick 7-0 in Tolka Park, with Jaze Kabia getting a hat-trick while Oscar Brennan, Conor Byrne, Shane Farrell and Aidan Friel got the other goals.
Second place side Drogheda United were beaten 4-1 by Bray Wanderers in the Carlisle Grounds, Dean Williams and Dylan McGlade with two goals apiece. Chris Lyons scored for Drogheda who will now have to wait over three weeks for their next competitive game in the play-offs. They will play the winner between Longford Town and Cabinteely.
Longford won 3-1 away to Cobh Ramblers in St. Colman’s Park. Dean Byrne and Adam Evans were the scorers, Evans getting two, and Cian Leonard scored for Cobh. Cabinteely also picked up a win beating Wexford FC 2-1 in Ferrycarrig. Eoin Massey and Yuta Susaki were their scorers with Conor English on the mark for Wexford. There were worrying reports over the weekend that the board of Cabinteely were considering their future in the league given the associated running costs.
The final game saw Athlone Town and Galway United draw 2-2 in the Athlone Town Stadium. Kealan Dillon scored both goals for the home side while Conor Melody and Killian Brouder were the scorers for Galway, with Brouder equalising in stoppage time.