It’s Dublin derby night (again!) in the Airtricity League Premier Division. We’re off to Inchicore for tonight’s top of the table(ish) clash between St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers.
Both sides are still unbeaten in the league this season. Can Pat’s turn the champions over for the first time this season?
Kick-off is just under 10 minutes away, so make yourself comfortable and we’ll get started.
First things first, here’s how they’ll line out in Inchicore.
St Pat’s: Clarke; O’Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Forrester, Bolger, Chambers, Russell, J Kelly; Fagan. Subs: Carroll, Flynn, D Kelly, Murphy, O’Connor, O’Flynn, Rossiter.
Shamrock Rovers: Jannson; Gannon, Sives, Oman, Brennan; Dennehy, Rice, Turner, Finn, Greene; Twigg. Subs: Pieterse, Powell, Gartland, McCabe, McCormack, Kavanagh, O’Neill.
The teams are just about ready to go at Richmond Park.
Four of the St Pat’s squad this evening have league winners medals with Shamrock Rovers, including midfielder James Chambers. Here’s a little bit of pre-match reading:
The logistics of a sustaining a league in a small country like Ireland are different, of course. The talent pool of top-level players and managers is shallow, and as a result, a revolving door of inter-league moves is almost inevitable.
Given the country’s current cash-strapped status, players’ footloose nature is even less surprising. These are people with lives to live and families to support. Is it that unrealistic that their heads might be turned by a better contract or, at the very least, a guarantee that their wages will be paid regularly and promptly?
Speaking of James Chambers, we caught up with him for a chat earlier this week. Here’s what he had to say:
It’s been a bit up and down. We’ve had some good performance but there have been some bad ones too to be fair. But it is going to take time for the new players to gel.
Personally, I’m really enjoying it. Fitting into the team has been easy because it is full of footballers who want to play the game the right way.
We’re off. Anthony Buttimer is our referee this evening. Rovers attacking the Shed End in this first half.
An early chance for Rovers. Billy Dennehy floats a free-kick to the back post where Gary Twigg manages to get a yard on Ger O’Brien, but his header lands on the roof on the net.
GOAL! St Patrick’s Athletic 1-0 Shamrock Rovers (Forrester, 4′)
My word, what an absolute belter from Chris Forrester. The youngster cut back inside Killian Brennan and from 20 yards out, smashed a beautiful shot with his left foot that crept inside Oscar Jannson’s post. No chance for the keeper, and Inchicore is bouncing.
Fantastic start here in Inchicore. Pat’s are showing Rovers zero respect, pressing the ball in every area of the pitch and forcing mistakes. There was a dubious shout for a penalty when Billy Dennehy went down in the box, but there was nothing to it and referee Anthony Buttimer was perfectly positioned to wave it away.
A bit of a let-off for Pat’s. Billy Dennehy’s whipped corner is flicked on by Ken Oman at the near post and turned towards goal by Gary Twigg, but it comes back off the bar with Clarke well-beaten.
Pat’s are putting together some nice moves and really look menacing every time they come forward. James Chambers swings in a corner where it’s met by unmarked Chris Forrester, but his header comes back off a Rovers shirt and is hacked away.
Killian Brennan picks up the first yellow card of the evening for simulation, it seems. Expect Pat’s to test his discipline with a few more forays down this right hand side.
Just past the half-way point in this first half, and it’s Pat’s who will be happier with the opening exchanges. They’re getting plenty of possession and using it well, while James Chambers is doing an excellent job stifling the creative Ronan Finn when Rovers are coming forward.
GOAL! St Patrick’s Athletic 2-0 Shamrock Rovers (Russell, 26′) A bit of fortune for St Pat’s but they won’t care — they’re 2-0 up and Richmond Park is rocking. Again, it’s Killian Brennan who is a little bit exposed, and again it’s Chris Forrester who takes advantage. He comes back inside to shoot, and although Brennan gets a block on it, the ball dribbles across the face of goal for John Russell to slam it home at the back post.
As we pass the half-hour mark here in Inchicore, everybody else is gearing up for action around the league’s other grounds. A full programme of fixtures in the Premier and First Division tonight and, if it stays like this in Inchicore, Sligo will be able to go three points clear at the top with a win against Bray in the Carlisle Grounds.
A nice passing move yields a half-chance for Shamrock Rovers. Rather than challenge Ger O’Brien down the line, Billy Dennehy comes back inside and links up with Aaron Greene and Ronan Finn. They work it back to Dennehy in a bit more space out wide, but his cross is a fraction too high for Gary Twigg and his header drifts harmlessly wide.
GOAL! St Patrick’s Athletic 3-0 Shamrock Rovers (Forrester, 40′) Wow. Wow. Wow. Chris Forrester has just put Pat’s 3-0 up with a finish straight out of the Leo Messi playbook. Pat’s break at speed, catching Rovers short of numbers at the back, and when Forrester cuts back inside, he shapes to shoot before lobbing Jansson from the edge of the box. An absolute cracker.
A minute to go here in this first half. Rovers are on the ropes here – what have the champions got in response?
GOAL! St Patrick’s Athletic 3-1 Shamrock Rovers (Oman, 45+1′)
They’ve got one back. Ken Oman gets up to meet a back post corner, and it’s not looking quite as grim for Rovers as Anthony Buttimer blows for half time.
HALF TIME: St Patrick’s Athletic 3-1 Shamrock Rovers
A brilliantly entertaining half of football, and with the game live on RTÉ, an excellent advertisement for the League of Ireland. Pat’s have looked very dangerous in attack, and Stephen Kenny will definitely be looking to make some changes on the left side of the pitch before the sides re-emerge. Cracking stuff from Chris Forrester as well, who has scored two Goal of the Month contenders in one half.
GOAL! Bray Wanderers 0-1 Sligo Rovers (Cretaro, 10′)
Here’s your half-time thought courtesy of the Kaiser. Send your thoughts in to firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments section below.
Rovers need to prove that they are worthy Champions and go at Pat’s in second half. They look dangerous from set pieces where Pat’s appear weak.
We’re up and running for the second half in Inchicore. One change for Rovers: Gary McCabe is on for Aaron Greene.
Here’s a sample of some of the Twitter reaction to Forrester’s second.
GOAL! Bray Wanderers 1-1 Sligo Rovers (Waters, 19′)
An evenly-matched opening to the second half here in Inchicore. Pat’s are doing well to nullify Rovers’s threat, and you sense that it’s only a matter of minutes before Stephen Kenny shakes things up again.
And there is another change for Rovers. Chris Turner goes off, former Pat’s man Daryl Kavanagh is on in his place.
A half-hour to play here in Inchicore. Rovers have started to grow into the game in the last few minutes. Pat’s have pressed every ball in this first 60 minutes and they seem to be tiring a small bit, though Christy Fagan still looks dangerous on the break as Rovers commit men forward.
That’ll go down as a quarter-chance for Rovers. Gary McCabe whips a brilliant ball in behind the retreating Pat’s defence but it eludes Gary Twigg. Billy Dennehy is stretching at the back post but he can only help it wide.
As Bjork once said on a visit to the League of Ireland, “It’s oh so quiet”. Just the two goals at the Carlisle Ground to report and, with 25 minutes to play here in Inchicore, Pat’s still lead 3-1.
St Pat’s make their first change of the evening: Dean Kelly is on for Chris Forrester, who appears to be carrying a knock.
GOAL! St Patrick’s Athletic 4-1 Shamrock Rovers (Fagan, 70′) Game, set and match St Patrick’s Athletic, and it’s no more than the hosts deserve. Christy Fagan, who has been a superb outlet for Pat’s as their lone striker tonight, springs the offside trap, rounds the advancing Jansson and rolls the ball home.
GOAL! Bohemian 1-0 Cork City (Corcoran, 45′)
“We want five” is the chant from the home support. Who can blame them? Rovers had only conceded three goals in five games before tonight.
Jake Kelly is on the mooch for Pat’s fifth of the evening, but Sean Gannon gets a crucial block in to see it behind for a corner, which comes to nothing.
Ten minutes to play, but this one is as good as done. It’s half-time in all of the other games though, so there’s nothing much else to tell you about while the clock ticks down.
How about that Dinny Corcoran though? It’s only taken Bohs five-and-a-half league games to score a goal…
GOAL! Monaghan United 0-1 Drogheda United (O’Brien, 43′)
GOAL! St Patrick’s Athletic 5-1 Shamrock Rovers (Fagan, 86′) Insult to injury for Rovers, but the Pat’s fans are absolutely loving this. Jansson comes way out of his goal but he’s caught in no-man’s land and slips as Jake Kelly lifts it over his head. Christy Fagan is waiting to head it into the empty net from a yard out.
GOAL! Finn Harps 1-0 SD Galway (Clarke, 47′)
GOAL! Limerick 0-1 Longford Town (Haverty, 53′)
GOAL! Bray Wanderers 1-2 Sligo Rovers (North, 49′)
This landed in my email inbox from Declan Smyth a couple of minutes ago:
I’m turning over to the golf. Embarrassing!!!
FULL TIME: St Patrick’s Athletic 5-1 Shamrock Rovers
So we’re all done and dusted here at Richmond Park. It’s a night that will live long in the memory for St Pat’s fans, but one which the visitors will hope to forget as soon as possible. They never really got a foothold in the game and were dismantled by Pat’s clinical attacks. Two goals apiece from Chris Forrester and Christy Fagan were the cornerstone of a brilliant win, but James Chambers has deservedly picked up the Man of the Match award after bossing the game in midfield.
We’ll keep updating you on the rest of the scores as they come in from around the grounds, so stay with us.
GOAL! Athlone Town 0-1 Wexford Youths (Furlong, 58′)
GOAL! Finn Harps 3-0 SD Galway (Curtis, 58′; McHugh pen, 62′)
GOAL! Limerick 1-1 Longford Town (Tracy, 80′)
GOAL! Limerick 1-2 Longford Town (James, 83′)
We’re into injury-time in most of the 7.45 kick-offs. Will there be any late drama?
FULL TIME: Dundalk 0-0 Shelbourne
FULL TIME: Bohemian FC 1-0 Cork City
FULL TIME: Limerick 1-2 Longford Town
FULL TIME: Athlone Town 0-1 Wexford Youths
FULL TIME: Finn Harps 3-0 SD Galway
FULL TIME: Bray Wanderers 1-2 Sligo Rovers
Goals in either half from Raf Cretaro and Danny North send Sligo Rovers top of the league, three points clear of Shamrock Rovers.
FULL TIME: Derry City 0-0 UCD
A wonderful point on the road for UCD in the Brandywell.
FULL TIME: Mervue United 0-0 Waterford United
So that’s it bar the late kick-off in Gortakeegan, where Drogheda United still lead 1-0 with injury time to play. If they can hold on, Drogs will join Shamrock Rovers in second place level on points and goal difference; another goal and they’ll go second in their own right.
FULL TIME: Monaghan United 0-1 Drogheda United
That’s our lot, and what a cracking Friday night of football it was. Sligo go top of the league, but it is St Pat’s who will steal the headlines with a five-star demolition of Shamrock Rovers in Inchicore.
Check back later this evening for a full round-up of all tonight’s action.