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Football | League of Ireland talking points

The League of Ireland is back with a bang.

There was drama aplenty in the Premier Division on Friday night as teams returned from the mid-season break.

Here are all the main talking points from the full round of fixtures.

Gannon goal breaks Rovers' hearts

What a result for Dundalk.

Sean Gannon's goal gifted the Lilywhites a crucial 1-0 win over title rivals Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght.

Rovers were the better team for the majority of the game, but their lack of firepower up front came back to bite them once more.

The Hoops had the best of the first half chances; skipper Ronan Finn's effort cleared off the line by Dane Massey.

In the 38th minute, the influential Jack Byrne sent a thunderous strike crashing off the underside of the crossbar.

Dundalk had a strong penalty appeal waved away shortly before the interval when Gannon's cross hit Sean Kavanagh's hand inside the area.

Vinny Perth's men struggled to produce their best form, and it took the introduction of substitute in the second half Jamie McGrath to spark them into life.

McGrath's clever pass in the 73rd minute released Gannon down the right channel, and the full back finished calmly past into the far bottom corner Alan Mannus via the post.

The most controversial moment of the game came just after the hour mark, when Gary Rogers cynically hauled down Trevor Clarke outside the box when the Rovers left back raced clear of the Lilywhites' defence.

Referee Rob Harvey chose to show the Dundalk 'keeper a yellow card rather than dismiss him, much to the anger of the majority of the 5,000-strong crowd at Tallaght Stadium.

Both sides had chances in the closing stages as the game opened up, but the crucial equalizer proved elusive for Stephen Bradley's hosts.

The win means Dundalk are eight points clear at the summit, and puts the league champions in the driving seat to retain their title.

Dundalk host Waterford on Monday night, with Rovers making the trip to Inchicore to face rivals St. Patrick's Athletic.

Boyle brace seals Harps win

Finn Harps claimed a welcome 2-0 win over Sligo Rovers.

Nathan Boyle bagged a brace for the Ballybofey club at Finn Park on Friday night.

The win ends a run of five straight defeats for Harps, and sees Ollie Horgan's men move off the bottom of the table.

Harps took the lead in the 28th minute when Boyle stole in to finish Mark Russell's dangerous cross past Ed McGinty.

Boyle looked lively throughout, and had early threatened the Bit o'Red's goal with a header which struck the crossbar.

He sealed all three points 12 minutes from time after a brilliant run from the impressive Raf Cretaro.

David Cawley and Kris Twardek both had second half chances for Sligo, but Harps were worthy of their victory on home soil.

They are now three points clear of bottom-placed UCD, though the students have a whopping three games in hand.

Sligo remain in sixth place on 26 points.

Clinical Candystripes crush Cork

It was a night to forget for Cork City.

The Leesiders were thumped 4-1 by Derry City at Turner's Cross on Friday night.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe scored a brilliant hat-trick after David Parkhouse had given the Candystripes an early lead.

Graham Cummins - playing in his last match for the Leesiders - scored a late consolation goal for Cork two minutes from time after Daire O'Connor had been sent off just before the half hour mark.

It took Derry just 11 minutes to open the scoring.

Parkhouse was picked out by Ogedi-Uzokwe in the box, and Mark McNulty couldn't keep out striker's low shot from close range.

Ogedi-Uzokwe scored his first goal in thee 27th minute, two minutes after Gearóid Morrissey had forced Peter Cherrie into a smart stop at the other end of the pitch.

The striker volleyed Gregg Sloggett's cross past McNulty to double Derry's lead, and it took him just three minutes to add to his tally.

Ogedi-Uzokwe found the net from the penalty spot after Conor McCormack handled Gerardo Bruna’s free-kick in the box on the half hour mark.

McNulty saved the initial penalty, but Ogedi-Uzokwe reacted quickly to finish the rebound.

O’Connor's red card compounded Cork's misery in the 59th minute; the midfielder dismissed after picking up a second yellow card.

Ogedi-Uzokwe completed his hat-trick with a fine header seven minutes later to cap off a wonderful night for Derry.

Cummins' header pulled one back for Cork in the 88th minute, but it was another miserable night for the Leesiders.

Derry remain in fourth place on 34 points, six points off Bohs with a game in hand, but only ahead of St. Pat's on goal difference.

Cork sit in seventh on 24 points, but have played three more games than Waterford, who are only one point behind.

Pat's put pressure on Derry

St. Pat's beat UCD 1-0 at the UCD Bowl to maintain their pressure on Derry.

Kevin Toner headed the only goal of the game in the 31st minute in what was a scrappy affair.

Injuries and departures left the students depleted, and Pat's were well worth their victory in South Dublin.

Jake Walker and Simon Madden both went close for Harry Kenny's visitors, with Sean McDonald curling a shot over at the other end.

Toner's powerful header from a Mikey Drennan corner was enough to seal a valuable victory for the Inchicore club.

Darragh Markey squandered a late one-on-one for Pat's, but Kenny's men held out to stay level with Derry on points.

UCD have now lost 10 matches in a row, and are three points adrift of Finn Harps, though the students have three games in hand.

Bohs' Barker sinks Waterford

Bohemian FC left it late to beat Waterford 2-1 on Friday night.

An own goal from Rory Feely gave Bohs the lead at the Waterford Regional Sports Centre before another own goal - this time from Michael Barker - drew the hosts level 15 minutes later.

However, Barker redeemed himself with a dramatic 90th minute winner.

Danny Mandroiu twice went close for Keith Long's visitors in the opening stages, and Bohs took the lead in the 22nd minute through Feely's own goal.

Luke Wade-Slater's drilled cross struck was inadvertently diverted past Waterford 'keeper Sean Bohan by the defender.

James Talbot made a stunning save to deny Waterford an equalizer from a John Martin header, but was powerless to stop Waterford drawing level when Barker chested the ball into his own net in the 35th minute.

Feely forced Talbot into a smart stop in the second half, with Keith Buckley's header flying over the bar for the Gypsies.

Barker cancelled out his own goal by scoring the winner in stoppage time.

The Bohs defender found the bottom corner from Mandroiu's corner, sealing all three points for the visitors.

Bohs are now just four points behind second-placed Rovers, and remain six clear of the Candystripes.

Waterford languish in eighth, but could move up to sixth if they win their games in hand.

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