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Dublin: 12°C Thursday 13 May 2021

Violent behaviour mars the opening weekend and our League of Ireland talking points

Last year’s top two got off to winning ways while there were mixed fortunes for the newly-promoted sides.

The Showgrounds on Saturday night.
The Showgrounds on Saturday night.
Image: Twitter/SligoRovers

Unsavoury scenes at the Showgrounds

THE TALKING POINT from this game should have been how nine man Sligo Rovers matched Shamrock Rovers quite well throughout the game, or the referee’s willingness to hand out cards, or even that the Hoops got their campaign off to a good start.

But sadly, the one thing dominating talk following the game was the behaviour of some of the travelling support, or so called fans. Shamrock Rovers fans, to be fair to them, travel in big numbers. Particularly for a Saturday evening game in Sligo.

A number of alleged incidents in local pubs prior to the game was only the start of the trouble. Individuals sitting in the away section began to tear down advertising hoarding and there even appeared to be a fight involving a few people in the away section early on in the second-half.

A banner that read ‘Robertson war criminal, shame on Sligo’ was also unfurled at the beginning of the game, but was quickly removed. A red and white flag was later lit on fire, to the tune of ‘We’re Shamrock Rovers, we’re burning your flag’.

It’s a shame that the actions of a few individuals could blacken the name of a football club, particularly considering that they are Ireland’s most successful club.

- Jessica Farry

Is Killer the finisher that Dundalk are looking for?

Has Ciaran Kilduff finally found his home? The nomad striker has always been capable of performing at this level but has never been able to do it consistently.

Could Stephen Kenny be the man to finally bring out the best in him?

At 27, his best years are not far away and he will have the service he needs this year with the likes of Horgan, McEleney, Meenan and Mountney all ready and able to offer assists – he just needs to provide the finishing. Saturday showed he can do it but it has to be a regular occurrence.

- Dan Gorman 

Rebels show strength-in-depth

When making substitutions, John Caulfield generally likes to bring off three of the four furthest forward players in the Cork City team.

On Friday night, it was all of the three in the 4-2-3-1 as he allowed Seán Maguire on to try to find his hat-trick, but it was the players coming on who made this notable.

Colin Healy, Steven Beattie and Karl Sheppard were all introduced, all three having been guaranteed starters last season. If City are to go from second to first, a stronger squad is a prerequisite and they seem to be well set in that regard.

- Denis Hurley 

Disappointing debut for Youths

There was a vital two minute spell for Wexford Youths and particularly Chris Kenny who had was handed a couple of chances in quick succession.

His overhead flick looked destined for the top corner before dropping just wide. And moments later, his header from Craig McCabe’s free-kick was inches away from Skinner’s goal again.

The were both great chances and it certainly would have been a different game had either hit the back of the net. As it happened, Shane Keegan’s newly-promoted side fell to defeat Longford Town on their Premier Division debut.

- Brendan White

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Productive visit to the capital for Tribesmen

It proved to be a particularly satisfying Friday evening in Inchicore for Galway United.

Prior to the game, Galway’s chairman Jonathan Corbett watched his horse, Poetic Choice, claim the 6.30 at Dundalk in Tavey’s Bar across from Richmond Park.

Then the Tribesmen notched a first win in the capital since the promotion/relegation play-off first leg success over UCD in October 2014.

Last year’s return to the top flight was a mixed campaign for Galway, who did take encouragement from an EA Sports Cup final appearance.

The squad for 2016 has a bit more depth to it, though, and some of the close season recruits contributed handsomely.

Stephen Folan was splendid at centre half, while John Sullivan’s midfield enterprise was rewarded with a critical headed goal.

The influential Vinny Faherty, starting a third spell with Galway, also rattled the Saints net, while Kevin Devaney was promising in a wide role. Similar levels of drive and desire must be demonstrated when Bray Wanderers visit Eamonn Deacy Park.

- Cian O’Connell

Historic win for Harps

As favourites to go straight back to where they came, Finn Harps have a difficult start to life in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.

Although saying Friday’s derby was a must-win is a touch premature, Ollie Horgan’s side will be glad of the points with a trip to Oriel Park to take on back-to-back champions Dundalk before clashes with Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers.

For Derry City, it’s only a second ever league loss – a first since 1998 – to their neighbours in 30 fixtures. Kenny Shiels would’ve liked a positive start.

- Alan Foley

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