Three observations from the League of Ireland on Gameweek 29, including a glut of goals across the country, Bohemians inflicting sweet revenge on defenceless Students, and Dundalk’s profligacy in Europe costs them dearly.
Goals galore on crazy weekend for Irish football
It was a frankly ridiculous weekend for goals in both divisions of the League of Ireland, with not a single goalless draw in sight and only two of the ten games in either tier finishing 1-0.
There were 17 goals scored in the First Division this gameweek, with two matches featuring six goals. Drogheda United absolutely pelted struggling Wexford 6-0 as their push for promotion continues unabated, while Bray Wanderers and Cobh Ramblers played out a 3-3 thriller at the Carlisle Grounds. It was 2-1 to the visitors in the 85th minute of the game, but three late goals saw the teams share the spoils following an injury time equaliser for local lad Hugh Douglas.
I never expected to find myself at this on a Friday night, let alone on my feet screaming at the end. A great night’s entertainment though; glad to see @BrayWanderers fighting back! https://t.co/98gBpFjHSB
— Dara Ó Briain (@daraobriain) August 16, 2019
That still couldn’t match the 24 goals we saw fly into the net in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division, with 11 of those coming in the one game.
Dundalk also put five on Finn Harps as the Lilywhites look to move on from their disappointing end to a European campaign and secure a fifth league title in six years.
Only two teams from the top flight failed to score, as Derry City and Finn Harps drew a blank, but the story of the weekend was surely in Dalymount Park…
Bohs gain sweet and vicious revenge on UCD
You know how they say “don’t poke the bear”? It shouldn’t need to be said, but some people need to be told nonetheless. They just can’t help themselves, you see. Like that rugby player who literally tried to pet a lion in South Africa. You’ll never guess what happened next — he got a bite on the hand.
That’s what UCD did to Bohemians last month when they beat their Dublin rivals 1-0 in the league, not for the fact they won, but for what went on after the final whistle. Goalkeeper Conor Kearns goaded the away fans, before shemozzle broke out between the two squads. Kearns jogged back to the dressing room, chased by a couple of idiotic spectators.
The official result was changed to 3-0 after it turned out Bohs had fielded an ineligible player. Either way, a loss was a loss and they had been embarrassed by arguably the weakest team in the division.
The Gypsies faithful will feel that karma, being a you-know-what, has done its job in the meantime. With Kearns suspended for six games following the melee, the Students lost each of their next three games, conceding 12 goals, and effectively crushing any lingering hopes of surviving the drop they might have had.
With that July incident still fresh in the memory, Bohs set out with one goal this past Friday when they faced off again: to obliterate them. Having been poked and prodded, the proverbial bear mauled their prey, inflicting a 10-1 scoreline on the defenceless opposition.
It’s a record victory for the Dublin outfit, naturally enough, in this their 130th year as a football club. No better time to do it.
Dundalk’s one deficiency killed their chances in Europe
Ironically, it was a lack of goals that did it for Dundalk on their European quest. In three two-legged ties in the Champions League and Europa League, they scored just twice. Over 540 minutes of regular time and an additional 30 of extra time against FC Riga, that works out at 0.35 goals per game.
Even if your defence is as stingy as Daniel Levy in a transfer negotiation, that simply won’t win you any games at European level. They progressed through the first qualifying round on penalties after two goalless draw against their Latvian opponents, were somewhat fortunate to get a late equaliser against Qarabag in the second round, and couldn’t put away any of their chances against Slovan Bratislava.
When they did score against the Slovakians, Michael Duffy’s goal was a mere consolation for the Louth outfit, as they lost 3-1 and crash out of Europe for another year. By the time the qualifiers come back around, it will have been four years since their incredible run to the Europa League group stages.
The Lilywhites dominate the domestic scene for the most part in Ireland, so the question is how will they develop into a team that can challenge the bigger tests abroad? Because smashing teams every other weekend is not a good enough primer for the big time.