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'Bizarre' refereeing, unlucky 13 for Pat's and more SSE Airtricity League talking points

Dundalk were ‘tired and lethargic’ but still couldn’t be stopped.

Updated at 07.00

One small step for Sligo, one giant leap for Owen Heary

Owen Heary Owen Heary's Sligo Rovers were 2-0 winners at home to Drogheda United. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Owen Heary finally picked up his first home win as Sligo Rovers manager following a difficult start for his side. Rovers came agonisingly close to beating both Cork City and Limerick at the Showgrounds, but had their hearts broken by late goals. Saturday’s meeting with Drogheda was a must-win game for Heary’s men and it’ll be welcomed with open arms, as the Bit O’ Red continue to try and climb the table. There’s still plenty of work to do but it’s certainly an improvement on previous outings.

– Jessica Farry

‘Tired and lethargic’ champions still can’t be stopped

Richie Towell with Seanan Clucas Dundalk's Richie Towell goes down under a challenge from Seanan Clucas of Derry City. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Dundalk laboured to victory over Derry City at Oriel Park on arguably a night where the first credible chink in their previously impenetrable armour was shown. Stephen Kenny doesn’t like making changes to this Dundalk team but Brian Gartland missed out through injury, with Paddy Barratt coming in. After 13 games, eight of Kenny’s team remain ever-present starters in the league. On Friday, Dundalk looked tired and lethargic, unable to keep up the intensity that so often tends to overpower their opponents. The fitness and conditioning work undertaken with the team is second to none in the country, but every once in a while the players will struggle. The next time, a late deflected goal may not come to spare them.

– Barry Landy

Limerick fans out-numbered at home on another tough night at Jackman Park

Karl Sheppard celebrates scoring a goal Karl Sheppard's fourth goal in three games was the difference between Cork City and Limerick. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Only a hundred kilometres separate Cork City and Limerick, and although the clubs are in close proximity, they’re both going in very different directions. Back in 2010, Limerick finished five points above Cork in the First Division. The Blues were in the process of returning to the Markets Field as well as building a base in Bruff, while City’s future was uncertain under new ownership. Since then, Limerick’s gamble on Stuart Taylor failed miserably, having their budget cut every year since promotion, while Cork solidified under Tommy Dunne and expanded under the cult of personality associated with Cork native John Caulfied. Six hundred people turned up to Jackman Park on Saturday night — over half of them from Cork. There may have been only a goal between the sides, but there’s a much greater distance between the clubs at the moment.

– Andrew Cunneen

Rub of the green helps the Hoops over the line

Maxime Blanchard celebrates scoring with Pat Cregg Maxime Blanchard celebrates his second goal in Shamrock Rovers' 3-2 win against Longford Town. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Pat Fenlon opted to reinstate Danny North and change from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2 for Friday’s visit of Longford Town, but neither he nor Mikey Drennan had too much joy, with the former St Pat’s and Sligo Rovers striker looking particularly rusty on his first league start since the reverse fixture back in March. The visitors were set up to keep the Hoops’ midfield pair of Keith Fahey and Patrick Cregg quiet, and they should have taken the lead at 1-1 when Gary Shaw missed in a one-on-one situation. It’s no wonder Longford boss Tony Cousins lost it — and was subsequently sent-off when his side were denied a penalty in the second-half when Maxime Blanchard appeared to bring down Shaw, as it was the same player who scored twice to hand the victory to Rovers.

– Ben Blake

Perfect start for new Bray boss as Pat’s fall 13 points behind

Trevor Croly at the final whistle Trevor Croly's Bray Wanderers were 1-0 winners over St Pat's. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

On the back of four consecutive losses in which they conceded 20 goals, Bray Wanderers have been struggling. However, under the watchful eye of new manager Trevor Croly for the first time, the Seagulls showed that there’s still life in their season. Twelve days after leaking eight goals against Dundalk, Croly’s side put a massive dent in St Patrick’s Athletic’s faltering title challenge thanks to a 74th-minute goal from Peter McGlynn. Bray will still find it hard to pick up points consistently, but results like Saturday’s show that they’re capable of staying away from the foot of the table (they’re now five points clear of the bottom but only five more adrift of the top-half). Things really haven’t gone according to plan so far this season for Liam Buckley and St Pat’s. Tipped by many as potential champions, they’re already 13 points off the pace. They were aiming to stay unbeaten for the tenth league game on the trot, but they left the Carlisle Grounds with a defeat that’s likely to cost them dearly.

– Paul Dollery

‘Bizarre’ refereeing but Galway move into the top half

Anto Murphy Bohs finished Friday's defeat to Galway United with Anto Murphy in goal. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Cork official Anthony Buttimer angered both sets of supporters on several occasions during Friday’s game between Galway United and Bohemians. Not just the three penalties awarded, but some bizarre free-kicks were also given and Dean Delany’s late red card looked harsh on the Bohs keeper, who’ll now have a suspension to contend with.

– Jason Byrne

Originally publised at 20.35 on 17 April 

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