Football | League of Ireland talking points

Every week, we’ll get stuck into the main talking points from the weekend’s matches.

Week two saw the return of the First Division, an historic haul from Graham Burke, and a slew of away wins in the top flight.

First Division back with a bang

The First Division made it’s long-awaited return this week after an off-season of controversy.

After much speculation, Shamrock Rovers II joined the second tier, replacing Limerick FC in the division, much to the ire of the other clubs competing in the league.

The ‘First Division Alliance’ subsequently announced that they will compete in the league “under protest”.

Longford Town inflicted a defeat on the Hoops’ second team on Friday, with strikes from Aodh Dervin and Rob Manley clinching a 2-0 win for the hosts at Bishopsgate.

Drogheda United made an impressive start, beating Cobh Ramblers 2-0 away.

Chris Lyons opened the scoring for the visitors, before Sean Brennan’s penalty sealed the points for the Louth club. Cobh had Lee Devitt sent off in the 77th minute.

Cabinteely beat Bray Wanderers 4-2 in a six-goal thriller at Stradbrook Road, having raced into a four-goal lead.

Keith Dalton (two), Kieran Marty Waters and Vilius Labutis fired Cabinteely into a 4-0 advantage, before Gary Shaw and Jack Watson found the net for Bray.

Wexford and UCD played out a 1-1 draw at Ferrycarrig Park.

The Students opened the scoring through Colm Whelan after 16 minutes, before Conor English popped up with a stoppage time equaliser for Wexford.

Five-star Burke puts Cork to the sword

What a performance from Graham Burke.

The Republic of Ireland international plundered five goals as Shamrock Rovers smashed Cork City 6-0 at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night.

It took the Hoops 33 minutes to breach the Leesiders’ defence in the Dublin wind and rain, but once the floodgates opened, Neale Fenn’s visitors were swept away in a merciless deluge.

Burke found the bottom corner with a clinical left-footed finish to open the scoring after Cork defender Joseph Olowu failed to deal with Jack Byrne’s speculative diagonal.

The 26-year-old doubled his tally in the 42nd minute, pirouetting in the six-yard box before poking the ball past Liam Bossin following Ronan Finn’s low cross.

Cork were dealt a massive blow in first half stoppage time, with full debutant Deshane Dalling dismissed for a second yellow after his reckless lunge on Roberto Lopes.

Byrne scored Rovers’ third goal on the hour mark as Stephen Bradley’s dominant hosts tore Cork apart, with Burke turning provider on this occasion.

Burke’s backheel found Ireland midfielder Byrne, whose low shot beat Bossin, who will feel he could have done better.

Former Aston Villa and Preston forward Burke completed his hat-trick with 15 minutes left on the clock in Tallaght.

Collecting a deep cross at the back post, Burke twisted and turned before curling a beautiful strike into the far bottom corner.

His fourth goal beat Bossin courtesy of a generous deflection, while his fifth was another clinical left-footed finish after being played in behind the Cork defence.

He is the first Hoops player to score five goals in a match since Mick Leech in 1969.
Rovers’ strong start to the 2020 season continues, but it’s more misery for Cork.

Late Liddle leveller in Derry

Super sub Adam Liddle was the hero for Derry City against Finn Harps, popping up with a 95th-minute goal to nick a point for the hosts at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

The hungry wind paid a big part in the first north-west derby of the season.

Derry’s Walter Figueira squandered a good chance to fire the Candystripes in front in the first half, blazing his effort over the bar.

It was Harps to took the lead through Ryan Connolly in the 33rd minute.

Derry left back Ciaran Coll’s misplaced pass found Connolly, who curled home a wonderful finish to give Ollie Horgan’s visitors the lead.

Harps led 1-0 at the interval, and Karl O’Sullivan forced Candystripes ‘keeper Peter Cherrie into a good save in the opening stages of the second period.

Conor Clifford smashed the crossbar as Derry hunted for a leveller, but the hosts had to wait until the fifth minute of stoppage time to restore parity.

Liddle arrived in the box to meet Figueira’s cross, applying a finish from close range to break Harps hearts and seal a valuable point for Derry.

Harps, who emerged victorious in a promotion/relegation play-off last season, have already collected four points this season, three more than their northern rivals.

Dundalk spoil Shels’ Tolka homecoming

Dundalk claimed a 2-1 win at Tolka Park to spoil Shelbourne’s celebrations.

Shels beat Cork City 1-0 in Turner’s Cross on their return to the top flight next week, but couldn’t follow it up with another victory in their first Premier Division match on home soil in six years.

Andy Boyle gave the Lilywhites the lead in the 19th minute, tucking home from two yards at the back post from a Michael Duffy’s corner.

Vinny Perth’s champions doubled their lead just before half time, courtesy of another set piece.

Duffy floated a deep free kick into the box, where Patrick Hoban was somehow in acres of space to nod a header past Jack Brady to give Dundalk a 2-0 lead at the half-way point.

Shelbourne, who produced plenty of good football and multiple chances, pulled one goal back just seven minutes after the restart.

Gary Deegan scored an early contender for goal of the season.

The Shels midfielder chested down a Dundalk clearance from a corner, before unleashing an unstoppable left-footed half volley into the top corner via the post.

Gary Rogers was forced into good saves by Ciaran Kilduff and Karl Sheppard as the hosts chased a point at Tolka, but Dundalk held on to seal their second win of the campaign.


Away wins for Bohs and St. Pat’s

Dublin duo Bohemian FC and St. Patrick’s Athletic also picked up wins in the second round of fixtures.

St. Pat’s claimed a comfortable 2-0 win against a poor Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds, with Ronan Hale and Chris Forrester bagging the goals for Stephen O’Donnell’s visiting team.

In the 26th minute, Hale capitalized on Darragh Noone’s loose pass and smashed an excellent strike past Ed McGinty.

Nine minutes later, Robbie Benson’s cross found Forrester, who engineered some space in the box before hitting a low strike past McGinty to double St. Pat’s’ lead.

The Inchicore club lost Oliver Younger to a red card after he picked up two bookings in three minutes, but the Bit O’Red rarely looked like forcing a way back into the contest.
Bohs picked up a similarly impressive victory, beating Waterford 2-0 at the RSC.

The visitors from Dublin made five changes to the team which lost last week’s Dublin derby to Rovers, but Waterford boss Alan Reynolds stuck with the same 11 that claimed victory in Richmond Park.  

The Gypsies took the lead in the 42nd minute through Sam Bone’s own goal, with Danny Mandroiu netting a penalty three minutes later to double their lead.

Bone inexplicably headed Mandroiu’s cross into his own top corner, before Mandroiu won and converted a penalty with aplomb to put the game beyond Waterford.

Glen McAuley threatened to add to Keith Long’s visitors’ lead, but Bohs were happy to settle for a two-goal win.