Football | League of Ireland talking points

All 10 teams were in action in the Premier Division on Friday night.

Here are the main talking points.

Battle at the bottom

UCD beat Finn Harps 1-0 in the battle at the bottom of the table. 

Jason McClelland scored the only goal of the game to seal a crucial win for the Students at the UCD Bowl.

In the eighth minute, McClelland rifled a powerful strike into the far corner past Mark McGinley to score his first goal of the season.

Nathan Boyle had a good chance to draw Harps level, but Conor Kearns made an excellent save to maintain UCD’s lead.

Yoyo Mahdy forced a fantastic stop from McGinley five minutes before the interval, before Boyle fired wide from a promising position on the stroke of half time at the other end.

Kearns did well to parry a powerful Daniel O’Reilly header in the 70th minute as Ollie Horgan’s Harps pushed for an equalizer, but UCD held on to pick up their first points in 12 games.

The students – who had lost 11 matches in a row before Friday’s win – could only name one outfield player on the bench given recent departures.

Finn Harps remain a place and point above UCD, but have played three games more than their relegation rivals.

Title rivals slip up

Neither Dundalk nor Shamrock Rovers could capitalize on the others slip up on Friday night.

The Hoops had to settle for a scoreless draw at home against Sligo Rovers, while Dundalk drew 2-2 with Derry City at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

Sligo’s Romeo Parkes forced Alan Mannus into an early save at Tallaght Stadium, but it was the Dublin club who largely dominated proceedings.

The influential Jack Byrne forced Ed McGinty into a couple of saves, and Stephen Bradley’s hosts felt they should have had a penalty when debutant Graham Cummins went down from a John Mahon aerial challenge in the box.

Cummins – who recently joined Rovers from Cork City – also hit the crossbar with a header before the interval.

McGinty tipped a long-range Byrne effort over the bar early in the second half as the home side pushed for a breakthrough, and the Sligo ‘keeper reacted quickly to smother two chances at Cummins’ feet.

Sligo held on to earn a hard-fought point, and Shamrock Rovers will be disappointed not to have seized the opportunity to draw closer to Dundalk, who remain eight points clear at the summit of the table after 24 matches.

Late drama in Derry denied Dundalk victory.

Andy Boyle almost scored an early goal on his first appearance since re-joining the Lilywhites, but his header from a corner was saved by Peter Cherrie in the fourth minute.

The Candystripes took the lead in the 41st minute, with David Parkhouse finding the net in clinical fashion after Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe pick-pocketed Chris Shields in the Dundalk box.

Shields made amends in the 57th minute;  the combative midfielder teeing up Georgie Kelly to draw Dundalk level with a powerful strike from close range.

Substitute Pat Hoban glanced a header wide before Cherrie made a great save to claw away a Jamie McGrath effort as the Lilywhites pushed for a winner.

Hoban headed them in front in the 90th minute after Michael Duffy’s corner found him in the box, but Derry hit back immediately to snatch a point.

Ogedi-Uzokwe headed home Jamie McDonagh’s corner in the dying seconds to send the home fans into raptures.

Dundalk remain eight points clear of the following pack, with Derry sitting in fifth position on 36 points.

St. Pat’s inflict more misery on Waterford

St. Patrick’s Athletic came from behind to beat Waterford 2-1 at the Regional Sports Centre on Friday.

Cory Galvin had given the hosts the lead on the half hour mark, but Conor Clifford drew St. Pat’s level with a stunning effort two minutes later.

Dean Clarke’s scored for the visitors shortly after the hour mark to inflict a third consecutive defeat on Waterford.

After a slow start to the game from both teams, Pat’s midfielder Clifford shot straight at Waterford goalkeeper Matt Connor in the 25th minute after some tidy build up play from the away side.

Galvin injected some quality into the match with a fine goal in the 30th minute.

He produced an excellent strike to beat Brendan Clarke from 20 yards following Dean Walsh’s layoff.

However, Clifford responded within two minutes with a goal of the season contender.

Jamie Lennon rolled a free kick to the former Chelsea midfielder, and Clifford took one touch before unleashing an unstoppable rocket into the top corner from 30 yards.

St. Pat’s almost took the lead before the interval.

Madden laid the ball off to Clarke, but his effort struck the woodwork with the ‘keeper beaten.

Clarke did score Pat’s second in the 62nd minute, smashing home from Kevin Toner’s cross after his initial header was blocked by Georgie Poynton.

The win lifts Harry Kenny’s men up to fourth in the table, a point above Derry who have two games in hand.

Scoreless stalemate in Cork

Cork City drew 0-0 for the second time in a week on Friday.

The Leesiders and visitors Bohemian FC couldn’t be separated at Turner’s Cross. 

Bohs goalkeeper James Talbot was forced to push a Karl Sheppard header around the post in the early stages in a first half that was devoid of clear cut chances.

Keith Ward had Bohs’ best chance of the half, but couldn’t keep his effort down after a good cross from Luke Wade-Slater.

Cork’s Colm Horgan skied an early chance in the second half before heading another effort wide.

At the other end, Darragh Leahy’s header forced Mark McNulty into a save following a Bohs corner.

Cork remain unbeaten against Bohs in three games without conceding a goal this season,  but are now six games without a win.