Cork triumph in top of the table encounter
The headline clash in the final round of games before the SSE Airtricity League’s two week break took place at Turners Cross, where second placed Cork City narrowed the gap at the top of the Premier Division table to one point with a crucial 1-0 win over leaders Dundalk.
It was in-form Cork's eighth win in a row, and their third in succession against Stephen Kenny’s side, for whom the defeat was their first away loss since September 5th 2014.
In front of a big crowd, the decisive goal was a fine solo effort from Stephen Dooley, who collected a pass from Sean Maguire on half way, outpaced the covering Paddy Barrett and finished with a shot into the far corner of the net.
Dundalk’s task was made harder when Chris Shields was red carded for a two-footed lunge on Stephen Beattie a few minutes before the break, and they had a let off midway through the second-half when Dooley spurned the chance to double his side’s advantage, as he blasted a penalty kick high into the top row of the Curragh Road End stand.
A minute from time, City survived a scare when keeper Mark McNulty was beaten to a cross by former City striker Ciaran Kilduff, whose goal bound header was headed clear off the line by Sean Maguire, and the Leesiders held on to secure what manager John Caulfield described afterwards as a “fantastic win”.
Rovers victorious in Dublin derby
Shamrock Rovers moved into joint third place in the table after a 2-0 win at Richmond Park in the derby clash against St Patrick’s Athletic.
It was Rovers' first league win in Inchicore for six years and their first ever away league win over a Liam Buckley team, although there was a smash-and-grab element to the result that owed as much to clinical finishing from Rovers as it did the home side’s profligacy in front of goal.
Rovers’ first attack of note delivered the opening goal in the 16th minute, with a neat move down the right that led to Simon Madden driving a low cross into the box for Brandon Miele to side foot past Brendan Clarke in the Pats’ goal.
The home side spurned numerous chances in a livelier second half, and were made to pay when Patrick Clegg put Gary Shaw free on a quick counter attack, and the striker finished calmly from 10 yards to wrap up the points with fifteen minutes remaining.
Derry’s ten men pick up a point
Derry City remain in third place after picking up a point in a goalless draw at Galway United.
The result was a decent outcome for Kenny Shiels’ side, given that they were reduced to ten men after just 28 minutes, when Conor McCormack received a second yellow card.
Although that handed the initiative to the home side, they were unable to capitalise on their one man advantage, and the nearest they came to breaking the deadlock was midway through the second half when leading scorer Vinny Faherty found the back of the net from a tight angle, but was flagged offside.
The result means that Derry have now gone four games unbeaten in all competitions, while Galway manager Tommy Dunne remains frustrated at his side’s recent poor form after a good start to the season.
Limerick’s winning run ended
Limerick’s remarkable winning run at the top of the First Division came to an end with a 2-2 draw at home to second-placed Drogheda United at Markets Field on Saturday.
Pete Mahon's side became the first to take points off the runaway leaders, who had previously won all 12 of their league games, and the visitors were only denied a famous win by a dramatic equaliser in stoppage time.
Limerick were held scoreless for the first hour of a match for the first time this season before an own goal opened the scoring for them, but Drogs drew level when Limerick keeper Tommy Holland fumbled Sam O'Connor's flicked header into his own net.
Drogheda looked to have clinched the points with an Aaron Ashe goal in the 89th minute, but Limerick substitute Ross Mann, who was introduced immediately after the goal, equalised in the second minute of stoppage to preserve the Blues' unbeaten record, and keep them 14 points ahead at the top.
Athlone Town to be charged
Athlone Town face sanctions from the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) after failing to fulfil their scheduled fixture against Waterford United.
The troubled First Division club released a statement on the afternoon of the game, explaining they were unable to field a team "due to the unavailability of a number of players".
Town manager Alan Mathews had alerted local media earlier in the week to the issue that players were still waiting on wages, and the postponement is the latest in a series of problems that have beset the club this season.
A fan protest at the home FAI Cup game against Letterkenny Rovers led to an attendance of only 57 being reported, and they can expect little sympathy from the FAI, with SSE Airtricity League director Fran Gavin issuing a strongly worded statement after news of the postponement was confirmed.
"We take this matter extremely seriously and will be charging Athlone for failing to fulfil the fixture and for bringing the game into disrepute," said Gavin.
"This is totally unacceptable. To be notified on the afternoon of an SSE Airtricity League fixture that a club cannot field a team is simply not good enough.
“We will be meeting with Athlone Town over the weekend to discuss this serious matter."
Bray Wanderers 0 Longford Town 0, Cork City 1 Dundalk 0, Finn Harps 3 Sligo Rovers 0, Galway United 0 Derry City 0, St. Patrick's Athletic 0 Shamrock Rovers 2, Wexford Youths 0 Bohemians 1.
Cobh Ramblers 2 Cabinteely 0, Limerick 2 Drogheda United 2, UCD 2 Shelbourne 0, Waterford United v Athlone Town postponed.