In our Season’s Climax preview we told you to expect more twists and turns as the league draws to a close, and match day 32 didn’t flatter to deceive in a thrilling weekend in the Premier Division.
All eyes were drawn to the two games featuring the title challengers. Shamrock Rovers went to the Bowl to play UCD, while Bohemians hosted lowly Bray Wanderers in Dalymount Park.
In their game against the students, Shamrock Rovers took the lead through a header from star striker Gary Twigg after 20 minutes. Rovers were widely expected to beat UCD and strengthen their stranglehold on the top spot. But UCD had other plans, and in the 33rd minute a Paul Corry shot was deflected into the path of Ciaran Kilduff, who calmly steered the ball past Rovers keeper Alan Mannus. And so at the half-time interval, both sides went in at 1-1. UCD made a double substitution as the second half began, and the changes paid dividends as one of the substitutes, Brian Shortall, poked home from a corner after 64 minutes, sending UCD into the lead. Their lead lasted just ten minutes however, as Rovers were awarded a penalty in the 74th minute, which Chris Turner duly converted. Following a poor challenge just outside the Rovers penalty era, Rovers midfielder Robert Bayly was awarded a red card for his part in the handbags that followed. Things got a whole lot worse for Rovers, as Keith Ward fired in the resulting free kick to put UCD into a 3-2 lead. As if more drama was needed, Rovers defender Danny Murphy also seen red in the 92nd minute, as UCD held on to their slender lead and won all three points.
With Rovers slipping up, Bohemians missed the chance to pile the pressure on the league leaders as they were held to a 0-0 draw against relegation battlers Bray Wanderers. Bohs fielded an attacking side, with Jason Byrne, Raff Cretaro and Paddy Madden all starting. However, they could not find their way past a stubborn Bray defence, and Bohs chances of taking all three points were damaged severely as Mark Quigley was sent off in the 72nd minute for head-butting Bray’s Adam Mitchell. Just like Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians were also reduced to 9 men when in the 78th minute Chris O’Connor left the pitch for a challenge on Bray striker Gary Shaw. Bray took control of the match after this, but couldn’t come up with a goal and the match finished scoreless.
Rovers six point lead at the top is now reduced to five, with just four games remaining. This Tuesday sees a mouthwatering clash between Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount Park, a game which will be broadcast live on RTE from 7.00pm.
The point Bray took away from Dalymount Park could prove to have serious implications in the battle to avoid the drop, as the Wanderers moved a further point ahead of bottom placed Drogheda United, who lost 2-1 to Sligo Rovers. Sligo now move up to third in the table, while Drogheda are a worrying six points away from Bray Wanderers.
Galway United look to be joining Bray Wanderers in the relegation play-off, as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Dundalk. Faz Kudozovic scored a second half hat-trick for Dundalk to pick up the three points. Galway are now four points behind UCD, and will need to overhaul the students if they plan on avoiding a relegation play-off against either Bray or Drogheda.
St. Patrick’s Athletic recent run of bad form continued at Morton Stadium, against Sporting Fingal. Going into the final 15 minutes the Saints found themselves 2-0 up, until veteran striker Glen Crowe pulled one back for Fingal. Then, in the 84th minute, midfielder Ronan Finn seen his effort deflect off a Pats defender and find it’s way past goalkeeper Gary Rogers to complete the comeback. It ended 2-2, as Sligo’s win over Drogheda saw them leapfrog both Pats and Fingal in the race for a European place.
Tuesday, October 5th.
Drogheda v St. Patrick’s Athletic
Bohemians v Shamrock Rovers (live on RTE from 7.00pm)
Sligo Rovers v Bray Wanderers