WITH midweek European action causing games involving the top sides to be rearranged, the focus was on the bottom end of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division in the games played at the weekend.
Former Athlone Town, Drogheda United, and Monaghan United manager Mick Cooke was appointed as Bray Wanderers' new manager in midweek, succeeding Trevor Croly, and the new boss enjoyed a winning start with an entertaining 1-0 win over Derry City at the Carlisle Grounds.
After a goalless first half, Cooke's introduction of substitute Adam Hanlon proved to be a masterstroke, as the winger scored the only goal of the game just five minutes after coming on.
After picking the ball up wide on the wing, Hanlon skipped a challenge and finished with a cracking right-footer past Ger Doherty in the Derry goal.
The defeat ensured that Peter Hutton’s side slipped into the relegation play-off spots, ten points ahead of bottom club Limerick, who slumped to their eighth successive defeat at the hands of Galway United, who won 4-2 in an entertaining game at the Markets Field.
Jake Keegan turned in a five-star performance for the visitors with a hat trick, opening the scoring with a tap-in after being set up by Gary Shanahan.
Limerick hit back and Vinny Faherty levelled from a Lee Lynch corner just after the half hour, but the home defence were undone once more with an identical version of Galway's first goal just after the hour, when Padraic Cunningham squared to give Keegan another tap-in.
From then on, the visitors took control and Keegan completed his hat-trick with 15 minutes to go when he outpaced the Limerick defence to fire home his third. Limerick-born Gary Shanahan added a fourth goal nine minutes from time, although Limerick reduced the deficit a minute later when Ian Turner successfully converted a penalty after being fouled inside the penalty box.
After taking a three-goal lead inside the first 34 minutes, it nearly went horribly wrong for Sligo Rovers at home to Longford Town, with the Bit O'Red having to survive a second-half revival from the visitors to eventually secure a 3-2 win.
David Cawley converted a cross from Raffaele Cretaro to open the scoring on 21 minutes, and two minutes later a fine solo goal from Keith Ward doubled the lead.
A fine through ball from Gary Armstrong set up Dinny Corcoran for Sligo's third on 34 minutes, his eighth goal of the season, but the visitors began a second half revival just after the hour when Keith Ward brought down Mark Salmon in the penalty area, and the Longford skipper sent the keeper the wrong way from the resultant penalty.
Substitute Dean Kelly then had home nerves jangling when he headed home Longford's second goal from a Salmon free kick, but the hosts held on for a victory that saw them climb out of the relegation zone and marked Joseph Ndo's first win as manager.
In the First Division, Wexford Youths moved back to the top of the table with a 3-0 win at Cobh Ramblers. Former Celtic striker Paul Cahillane opened the scoring on his debut, Danny Furlong added a second with his 16th goal of the season 12 minutes from tie, and the victory was wrapped up by an amazing goal from the halfway line by Conor Whittle. That wrapped up the points and a fifth straight win for Youths.
Meanwhile, Finn Harps are tucked in two points behind Wexford in second place after a 3-0 win at Waterford United. The home side began well, but fell behind four minutes before half-time when on-loan striker Nathan Boyle rifled home a shot from outside the area, and after Raymond Foy doubled Harps' lead just after the hour, Boyle grabbed his second of the night four minutes later.
In the other game, James English made a memorable start to his Shelbourne career by scoring the only goal of the game in the derby clash at Cabinteely on his league debut.
Premier Division: Bray Wanderers 1 Derry City 0, Limerick 2 Galway United 4, Sligo Rovers 3 Longford Town 2.
First Division: Cabinteely 0 Shelbourne 1, Cobh Ramblers 0 Wexford Youths 3, Waterford United 0 Finn Harps 3.