The Season Ticket
Football | League of Ireland talking points
It's been a busy week of SSE Airtricity League action.
Most teams were in action twice in the last seven days or less, and there is plenty to discuss from the double gameweek.
There were four fixtures on Friday, one on Saturday (Sligo Rovers and Derry City played out a scoreless draw), and three on Monday in the top flight.
Double delight for Dundalk
The champions are back.
What a week for Dundalk, who are growing stronger and stronger as the season progresses.
The Lilywhites beat a rejuvenated Cork City 2-0 at Turner's Cross on Friday before sealing a last-gasp win over Bohs at Oriel Park on Monday.
Dean Jarvis and John Mountney (who was later sent off) grabbed the goals against Cork, with Pat Hoban striking the post from the penalty spot on a comfortable night for Vinny Perth's visitors.
Jarvis gratefully tapped into an empty net in the 10th minute after a Patrick McEleny effort was parried into his path, but despite Hoban's missed penalty, Cork would have been level at the interval were it not for a brilliant Gary Rogers save to deny Graham Cummins.
Five minutes into the second half, Mountney headed home an excellent Sean Gannon cross to double Dundalk's advantage.
The midfielder picked up his second yellow in the 80th minute, but the Lilywhites held out for an impressive victory at the home of their rivals.
Dundalk followed up the win with a crucial 2-1 win over title rivals Bohemian FC at Oriel Park last night.
Bohs made the perfect start in Louth, with Daniel Grant giving them the lead in just the second minute with a clever finish from a tight angle.
However, Bohs substitute Ryan Graydon's dismissal (for two yellow card offences) 14 minutes into the second half - after just 13 minutes on the pitch - proved costly.
Substitute Georgie Kelly equalized for Dundalk seven minutes later, and the hosts won the game after some late drama.
In the 90th minute, Dundalk's Dean Jarvis was fouled in the box by Andy Lyons. For the second time in a week, Hoban placed the ball on the penalty spot.
The striker made no mistake on this occasion, dispatching his spot kick past James Talbot to send the home fans into raptures.
Two wins in four days keeps Dundalk ahead of title rivals Shamrock Rovers on goal difference, with both sides riding high on 40 points.
Consistency key for Hoops
Shamrock Rovers also enjoyed a strong week.
The Hoops earned a 1-0 win away at UCD on Friday before thumping Finn Harps 3-0 in Donegal on Monday evening.
Dundalk have found their groove again, but Stephen Bradley's challengers are matching them stride for stride at the moment.
Daniel Carr's 21st minute goal was the difference against the students in an unconvincing performance at the UCD Bowl on Friday.
Rovers had lost three of their previous four league games, and ground out a much needed victory to arrest the slide.
Carr tapped home Aaron Greene's excellent low cross, and despite some shaky moments, Rovers saw out the game successfully.
The Dubliners were far more convincing in Ballybofey last night.
Ronan Finn, Aaron Greene, and Dylann Watts provided the goals as Rovers ended Finn Harps' two-game winning streak.
Skipper Finn opened the scoring in the sixth minute, burying Greene's cutback after Harps goalkeeper Peter Burke spilled Dan Carr's shot.
Watts made it two in the 33rd minute, slotting home a penalty after Greene was fouled by Burke in the box.
Greene wrapped up the routine win with six minutes remaining, finishing Jack Byrne's free kick past Burke to make it three goals and three points for the visitors.
Rovers are hot on Dundalk's heels, and represent the best chance of dethroning the champions.
Bohs fall behind the leaders
It was a less successful week for Bohs.
Keith Long's side drew 1-1 with St. Patrick's Athletic at Richmond Park on Friday night, before losing 2-1 to Dundalk courtesy of that late Hoban penalty.
It was an entertaining encounter at Richmond on Friday, with excellent chances falling to both teams throughout the derby. However, both were forced to settle for a draw.
Bohs were excellent in the first half, with Danny Mandriou, Dinny Corcoran, and James Finnerty all going close for the visitors.
However, Darragh Markey headed St. Pat's into a 40th minute lead in Inchicore with the home side's first effort on target.
Mandriou rescued a point for Bohs with a beautiful free kick in the 78th minute, curling his effort into the top corner from 25 yards.
1-1 Mandroiu 🔴⚫️ pic.twitter.com/7wpBFnA9gh — Bohemian FC 🔴⚫ (@bfcdublin) May 17, 2019
As mentioned above, Bohs took an early lead on Monday, but lost their lead and a man as Dundalk came back to win it late at Oriel Park.
The Phibsboro club are now nine points behind both Dundalk and Rovers, and are in danger of dropping out of the title race entirely.
Mixed weeks for Cork and Harps
Cork City and Finn Harps have both been enjoying an upturn in results of late.
The Leesiders had won both of interim manager John Cotter's first two games in charge, and Ollie Horgan's Harps picked up their first league win of the season last week.
Cork's week began with the aforementioned 2-0 defeat to Dundalk at Turner's Cross.
Cotter's charges bounced back to beat UCD 1-0 in Dublin on Monday, making it three wins out of four since John Caulfield's departure.
Cian Bargary scored the winner in the 73rd minute at the UCD Bowl, steering a header into the net for his first senior goal after Karl Sheppard's header was touched on to the crossbar.
Cork are now in sixth place on 22 points, but have played one more game than the two teams above and below them.
Like the Leesiders, Harps registered one defeat and one victory.
The Donegal club moved off the bottom of the table with a thrilling 3-2 win over Waterford in Ballybofey on Friday.
It was the 100th meeting between the clubs, and it was Waterford who drew blood first.
Aaron Drinan finished past Peter Burke in the fourth minute to give the away side an early lead.
The excellent Mikey Place scored a brace to fire Harps into the lead before the break.
Place's first goal came from a 20 yard free kick in the 24th minute, which Waterford 'keeper Matt Connor will feel he should have saved.
The Harps midfielder then scored his second from the penalty spot in the 38th minute after Liam Walsh was fouled inside the area.
Waterford manager Alan Reynolds was sent off in the 81st minute, but the visitors scored an equalizer eight minutes later.
Former Republic of Ireland international Damien Delaney forced the ball over the line from close range in the 89th minute, but Waterford's joy was short-lived.
A minute later, Sean Boyd finished past Burke after being picked out by Place to earn Harps' second win of the season.
The dramatic victory lifted Horgan's men above UCD - albeit by alphabetical order this time - where they remain, despite Monday's 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Shamrock Rovers.
More misery for UCD
It was another tough week for UCD.
The students lost 1-0 at home twice in four days, first to Shamrock Rovers, and then to Cork City.
Both were narrow defeats, and UCD will be particularly disappointed to have lost to the Leesiders given the balance of the game.
Collie O'Neill's team have worryingly lost eight league matches in a row since beating Cork, and have now slipped to the bottom of the table, though they only trail Harps due to alphabetical order.
Like Harps, their goal difference stands at -20, and the students will have to turn things around quickly if they are to beat the drop.