Football | League of Ireland talking points

All 10 Premier Division teams were back in action on Monday night, just 72 hours after competing on Friday night.

Could Dundalk maintain their winning run? Would Rovers bounce back?

We discuss the main talking points from the latest round of fixtures.

Students smashed by Sligo

Sligo Rovers hammered UCD 5-1 at the Showgrounds on Monday night.

Liam Scales gave the Students an early lead, but the Bit o’Red recovered to put the visitors to the sword in emphatic fashion.

John Dunleavy scored the equalizer, before Ronan Coughlan’s hat-trick and Romeo Parkes’ strike sealed Sligo’s biggest win of the season.

UCD started brightly, with Yoyo Mahdy forcing Ed McGinty into a good save, and the visitors took the lead in the ninth minute.

 Richie O’Farrell’s corner was met by Scales – who is set to join Bristol Rovers – and the defender directed a powerful header past McGinty.

Dunleavy drew Sligo level in the 22nd minute, finishing past Conor Kearns, who should have done better, following David Cawley’s corner.

A minute later, Coughlan slotted the ball past Kearns after being picked out by Cawley.

The striker doubled his tally just before the interval; tapping home after good work by Parkes.

Dunleavy set up Parkes for a simple finish five minutes into the second half.

Coughlan completed the rout two minutes later, lifting the ball over Kearns to collect the match ball.

The win ends Sligo’s run of five matches without a victory, and moves Liam Buckley’s men five points clear of seventh-placed Cork City.

UCD remain bottom of the table, however, and have yet to pick up any points away from home this season.

Eight in a row for Dundalk

Dundalk beat Waterford 3-0 on Monday night to extend their winning run to eight matches.

A Kenny Browne own goal in just the second minute sent the Lilywhites on their way to victory, with Daniel Kelly (24) and Jamie McGrath (65) finding the net in what was a comfortable win for the champions.

Vinny Perth made four changes to the team which beat Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght on Friday night, with Daniel Kelly, Jamie McGrath, Dan Cleary and Dean Jarvis coming into the side.

Dundalk made the perfect start; Browne inadvertently turning the ball into his own net after Sean Gannon’s cross was parried by Matthew Connor.

Pat Hoban had a goal rightly ruled out for offside before the 10-minute mark, and Patrick McEleney was guilty of squandering a huge chance for the dominant hosts, with the latter setting the former up for another good chance in the 22nd minute.

The Lilywhites doubled their lead in the 24th minute as Hoban crossed for Kelly to finish past Connor.

Waterford’s JJ Lunney was unlucky to see a powerful effort come back off the crossbar, but meaningful chances were at a premium for Alan Reynolds’ visitors.

Two became three in the 65th minute.

McGrath – whose introduction was the turning point in Tallaght – volleyed home through a crowd of players to complete a routine victory for the champions.

Shane Duggan struck the woodwork again for the visitors late on, but the result was never in doubt.

Eight wins in a row for Dundalk.

They’ll take some stopping.

Rovers return to winning ways

It has been a difficult period for Shamrock Rovers.

The Hoops saw their considerable lead at the top of the table obliterated by Dundalk, and suffered back-to-back defeats to Bohs and the Lilywhites ahead of last night’s trip to Inchicore to face St. Patrick’s Athletic.

Already trailing Dundalk by eight points, Stephen Bradley will have known that a win would be essential to remain in the title race.

Rovers returned to winning ways, beating St. Pat’s 2-0 at Richmond Park.

Greg Bolger and Sean Kavanagh scored the goals either side of half time as the Hoops recorded a facile victory.

After a slow start to the game, Rovers’ Trevor Clarke forced Pat’s ‘keeper Brendan Clarke into a save before Mikey Drennan tested Alan Mannus at the other end.

Rovers piled on the pressure as the half wore on, and took the lead on the stroke of half time.

Bolger drifted past a couple of Pat’s defenders and finished past Clarke after being found on the edge of the box by Jack Byrne in the 45th minute.

The title challengers doubled their lead five minutes into the second half.

Sean Kavanagh curled a low free kick around the wall and into the bottom corner after Dylan Watts was fouled by Republic of Ireland U21 midfielder Jamie Lennon.

The Hoops controlled the game well from that point, and did enough to stay within distance of Dundalk.

Scoreless stalemates elsewhere

The other two fixtures yielded no goals on Monday evening.

Bohemian FC and Derry City drew 0-0 in the Phibsboro sunshine.

Bohs entered the game in third place, six points ahead of fourth place Derry. However, the Candystripes were unable to close the gap at Dalymount Park.

Derry captain Barry McNamee missed the visitors’ best chance, firing his shot over the bar with the goals at his mercy.

Goalkeeper Peter Cherrie also came to Declan Devine’s men’s rescue late on, producing a fantastic save to deny Keith Ward a late Bohs winner from a free kick.

There were chances aplenty in an end-to-end first half, with Luke Wade-Slater and Ward having chances for the hosts.

Derry also had several openings.

Jamie McDonagh tested James Talbot with a free kick, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe went close with a deflected effort, and midfielder Gerardo Bruna also stung the palms of the Bohs ‘keeper with a fizzed shot.

Talbot made a stunning double save to deny David Parkhouse and Junior in the second half, with McNamee skying the aforementioned rebound.

Ward had time for two late chances, a free kick which forced Cherrie into an excellent stop, and another effort that flew wide of the post.

In the end, both sides were forced to settle for a point.

Up in Donegal, Finn Harps and Cork City played out a dour scoreless draw at Finn Park.

The fans who made the arduous journey from Cork were given little reward for their trouble, with neither team creating any chances of note in a snoozefest of a first half.

Harps’ Caolan McAleer flashed a shot wide early in the second half, with Darragh Rainsford blazing a promising Leesiders attack over the crossbar at the other end. In a game lacking ingenuity, Conor McCarthy almost scored a wonder goal from his own half, but his effort drifted wide of the Harps goal.

The scoreless draw wasn’t exactly an explosive start to Frank Kelleher’s reign, but it is another point on the board for struggling Cork.

A point moves Ollie Horgan’s Harps four points clear of UCD, but the Students have three games in hand.

However, given current form, Harps’ cushion may be enough to stay off the bottom of the table despite UCD’s extra matches.