Every week, we’ll get stuck into the main talking points from the weekend’s matches.
In this entry, David Smith analyses wins for Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers, Waterford, Bohemian FC and St. Patrick’s Athletic, and takes a look at the action in the First Division.
Waterford’s glorious golazos
The goal of the season shortlist is going to be something else.Waterford duo Sam Bone and Stephen Griffin are the latest players to produce stunning strikes in the League of Ireland, helping their side to claim a dramatic 2-1 win over Derry City at the RSC.
Alan Reynolds decided to start Graham Cummins at centre back; the former Cork City striker earning his first start for the hosts.
Derry made the brighter start, and Stephen Mallon gave the away side the lead shortly after the half hour mark through a clever quick free kick.
With Waterford’s Kevin O’Connor limping away from a free kick near the touchline, Mallon dribbled into the box before poking a low strike in at the near post.
The Candystripes’ lead didn’t last long, with Bone notching a wonderful strike three minutes before the interval.
Cummins, after scuffing his own shot from O’Connor’s corner, teed up Bone on the edge of the box. The midfielder took one touch past a Derry defender, before unleashing an unstoppable left-footed effort past Peter Cherrie into the far top corner from 25 yards.
Another week in the League of Ireland and another goal of the season contender, as Shane Griffin pops up in injury time to win it for @WaterfordFCie as they beat @DerryCityFC 2-1. Sam Bone’s opening strike was pretty tasty too. #RTEsoccer pic.twitter.com/gnESVBFZ4N
— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) March 7, 2020
The game’s decisive third goal didn’t arrive until the fourth minute of stoppage time, but it was one worth waiting for.
Waterford ‘keeper Brian Murphy launched a deep free kick into the Derry box, with the ball eventually being cleared as far as Griffin.
Griffin, who was 35 yards out, took a touch before curling a sumptuous side-footed effort into the top corner to break the visitors’ hearts.
Wins for Dublin duo
Bohemian FC claimed their first Dublin derby victory of the season, defeating Shelbourne 2-0 at Dalymount Park.
Andre Wright and Daniel Mandroiu scored second half goals for Keith Long’s hosts in front of the sellout Phibsboro crowd.
Karl Sheppard almost gave Shels the lead early in the first half, but his header came back off the crossbar following Dayle Rooney’s cross.
Wright opened the scoring for the hosts in the 53rd minute, meeting Kris Twardek’s header across the six yard box with a header of his own.
Danny Grant had picked Twardek out at the back post with a floated cross from the left flank.
Bohs doubled their lead nine minutes later through Danny Mandroiu.
The Republic of Ireland U21 international controlled a deep cross at the back post, before nonchalantly lofting the ball back across Jack Brady into the far top corner.
Grant was lurking at the back post, but did not appear to get a touch on Mandroiu’s lob.
The win lifts the Gypsies up to third in the table, three points behind Dundalk and six off Shamrock Rovers.
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) March 9, 2020
St. Patrick’s Athletic added to Cork City’s woes with a 1-0 victory over the Leesiders at Richmond Park.
Billy King scored the only goal of the game in the 55th minute to secure three points for Stephen O’Donnell’s hosts in Inchicore.
O’Donnell, searching for his first win on home soil, made four changes from the defeat to Shels, with Neale Fenn also making four changes for the visitors.
St. Pat’s dominated possession and created several chances, and deservedly took the lead 10 minutes into the second half.
An excellent through ball over the top from Lee Desmond caught the Cork defence napping, and King was on hand at the back post to tuck his chance away calmly.
Cork substitute Reyon Dillon headed over in stoppage time, with the Dubliners holding on to claim all three points.
St. Pat’s are now fourth, having won two and lost two of their opening four Premier Division games. Cork sit in ninth place on three points after five matches, having played a game more than Sligo Rovers, who are rooted to the bottom on zero points.
— St Patrick’s Athletic FC (@stpatsfc) March 6, 2020
Roy of the Rovers
Shamrock Rovers maintained their 100% winning start to the season with a 3-2 win over Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.
Jack Byrne, Aaron McEneff and Aaron Greene found the net for the visitors, with Ronan Coughlan and Niall Morahan getting on the scoresheet for Sligo.
In contrast to Stephen Bradley’s in-form Hoops, the Bit O’Red are the only Premier Division side in the country yet to register any points this season.
Republic of Ireland international Byrne gave the away side the lead in the 24th minute, turning sharply in the box to engineer space after being picked out by Ronan Finn, before drilling a low finish into the far corner.
Sligo drew level two minutes before the interval after David Cawley was fouled by Roberto Lopes in the visitors’ box.
Coughlan sent Alan Mannus diving the wrong way from the resulting penalty, restoring parity before the half time whistle.
The Hoops created the majority of the game’s chances, and the Tallaght club scored their second goal in the 76th minute.
Dylan Watts threaded a deft through ball forward to McEneff, who calmly dispatched a low finish past Ed McGinty to restore Shamrock Rovers’ lead.
Watts was once again the creator for the Hoops’ third goal five minutes later, showing good persistence and determination on the endline to pull the ball back to Greene, who slotted a low shot past McGinty to put the game beyond doubt.
Greene celebrated in style, choosing to eat one of the chips from the box which was thrown at him from the stands.
Sligo defender Morahan popped up with a consolation goal in stoppage time; the full back slaloming into the box before finding the far corner with an excellent left-footed strike.
It was too little, too late for the hosts, who are rooted to the bottom of the table without a point to their name after four league matches.
For Bradley’s visitors, who remain three points clear at the summit, it was another impressive win.
📽️ | The Hoops goals from last night’s 3-2 win away at @sligorovers ☘️
— Shamrock Rovers FC ☘️ (@ShamrockRovers) March 8, 2020
Dundalk bounce back emphatically
Dundalk suffered their maiden league defeat of the 2020 campaign in a five-goal thriller against Shamrock Rovers last week, but bounced back in style against Finn Harps in Donegal.
Patrick Hoban (two), Michael Duffy and Gregory Sloggett registered the Lilywhites’ goals in a dominant 4-0 win over Harps at Finn Park.
It took Vinny Perth’s men just 140 seconds to breach the Harps defence, with Hoban’s deflected strike looping past Mark Anthony McGinley’s into the top corner.
Mark Russell forced Gary Rogers into an excellent save at the other end as Ollie Horgan’s hosts searched for an equalizer.
Duffy doubled Dundalk’s lead on the stroke of half time, sparing Daniel Kelly’s blushes by producing a calm and tidy finish after Kelly somehow hit the crossbar when it was easier to score.
Hoban added the Irish champions’ third in the 51st minute, scoring the rebound after Dane Massey’s volley was parried by McGinley.
Sean Gannon then cleared one off the Dundalk line following a Kosovar Sadiki shot after a corner.
Slogett made it four late on, reacting quickest to slide the ball home after Harps failed to deal with a routine Duffy cross.
Three points keeps Dundalk within one win of Shamrock Rovers, while Harps sit in eighth place on four points from as many matches.
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) March 9, 2020
First Division roundup
Drogheda United smashed UCD 5-1, with five different players getting on the scoresheet for the hosts in Louth.
Mark Doyle, Jordan Adeyomo, Chris Lyons, Jack Tuite and Sean Brennan scored for Drogheda, with Liam Kerrigan notching the Students’ solitary goal.
Cabinteely continued their perfect start to the First Division season with a 1-0 victory over Shamrock Rovers II, despite finishing the match with 10 men.
Shane Barnes scored a stoppage time header to claim all three points for the hosts, who have won all three of their league matches thus far.
Cobh Ramblers came out on top in a five-goal thriller against Athlone Town, with Brian Murphy, David Hurley and Ian Turner finding the net.
Darren Meenan scored a brace to cancel out Cobh’s 2-0 lead, before the Cork club had Dylan Walsh sent off in the 68th minute.
However, Turner popped up with a crucial winner eight minutes from time, leaving Athlone without a point after two matches.
Wexford United and Galway United, who are both also yet to taste victory this season, produced a scoreless stalemate at Ferrycarrig Park.
Longford Town’s clash against Bray Wanderers was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.