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League of Ireland talking points

This article originally appeared on The Season Ticket, who you can follow on Twitter here.

The League of Ireland made its long-awaited return last night.

Champions Dundalk were held at home, while Cork City tasted defeat in Dublin.

There were also wins for Derry City, Shamrock Rovers, Bohemian FC, and St. Patrick’s Athletic.

Here are the main talking points from the opening round of fixtures.

Terraces not TV

It was encouraging to see such a strong turn out around the country.

A total of 17,792 spectators attended the five SSE Airtricity League matches, with an average of 3,558 per game, according to Extratime.ie.

A huge crowd of 4,152 filled the RSC to watch Waterford’s home match against Shamrock Rovers, the club’s largest home attendance in three years.

3,347 people passed through the gates at Oriel Park for Dundalk’s clash with Sligo Rovers, while St. Pat’s welcomed 3,479 fans to Richmond Park for their game against Cork City.

2,914 fans went to see Bohs play Finn Harps, with an estimated 4,000 passing through the turnstiles at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium..

Speaking of attendances, it was also refreshing to see Mick McCarthy (Richmond Park), Terry Connor (Oriel Park), and Robbie Keane (Dalymount) casting their eyes over the domestic talent.

Wayward finishing costs Dundalk

Vinny Perth must be scratching his head.

Dundalk were forced to come from behind to draw 1-1 with Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park.

The defending champions dominated the game for long periods, but failed to take advantage, with Edward McGinty saving Pat Hoban’s earl penalty after the Sligo ‘keeper had felled Robbie Benson in the box.

The Lilywhites had plenty of chances to take the lead – with Michael Duffy and Patrick McEleney both striking the woodwork – but found themselves trailing 1-0 at the interval.

Jack Keaney’s excellent free kick beat Gary Rogers at the near post, and the Dundalk veteran may feel he could have done better.

Sean Murray drew the reigning champions level with a fierce drive from the edge of the box to mark his debut with a goal, but the Louth club were unable to find a winner against the visitors.

Dundalk also lost Benson to injury after McGinty’s foul for the penalty, and McEleney was also injured, which will be a concern for Perth.

Clinical Candystripes

Derry City thumped UCD 3-0 at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium to end the opening round of fixtures at the summit of the table.

The home side started somewhat slowly, and UCD had a chance to take the lead in the opening minutes, but couldn’t find the back of the net during a goalmouth scramble in the third minute.

Derry settled into the match, and David Parkhouse fired the home side into the lead in the 25th minute, before an unfortunate own goal from Joshua Collins doubled Derry’s advantage shortly before the hour mark.

Eoghan Stokes found the back of the net seven minutes later to cap off an impressive night for the Candystripes on home soil.

Derry debutant Ogedi-Uzokwe twice came close to opening his account with the club, but the hosts had to settle for three goals and as many points.

It was the perfect start to Declan Devine’s second spell as manager.

Late drama in Waterford

Shamrock Rovers beat Waterford 2-1 at Waterford Regional Sports Centre.

The home side took the lead through a sublime Kevin Lynch free kick in the 22nd minute, but Aaron Greene restored parity for Rovers 10 minutes into the second half for Stephen Bradley’s visitors.

Ethan Boyle’s late goal in the dying seconds sealed all three points for Rovers, who will be looking to break into the top two this season.

Damien Delaney captained the hosts, and Aaron Drinan started after rejoining the club on loan from Ipswich.

Jack Byrne and Aaron McEneff both started for Rovers, and the visitors were full value for their dramatic late win.

St. Pat’s penalty sinks Cork

A Mikey Drennan penalty inflicted a 1-0 defeat on Cork City in Inchicore.

The debutant kept his cool from 12 yards to fire Pat’s in front on the half hour mark after a clumsy tackle on Conor Clifford in the box by Conor McCarthy.

It was largely a scrappy game at Richmond Park, but new Saints manager Harry Kenny will be delighted to start his tenure with a win.

The Leesiders had the better of the opening stages, with new signing James Tilley going close with a 12th minute header.

Brendan Clarke also made a stunning save to deny Gary Buckley, but John Caulfield’s visitors failed to make the pressure pay.

The hosts led at the break, despite midfield maestro Chris Forrester having a quiet game on his competitive return to Irish football.

McCarthy and Madden went close for Cork and Pat’s respectively in the latter stages, but the home side survived six minutes of extra time to start the season with an excellent victory.

Bohs trump Harps at Dalymount

Dinny Corcoran scored the winner as Bohs beat Finn Harps 1-0 at Dalymount Park.

Bohs – fielding five debutants in their starting 11 – started brightly in front of their home fans, but newly promoted Harps almost opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Daniel O’Reilly’s header from a free kick rebounded off the post.

The home side scored the only goal of the game four minutes before the break.

Keith Buckley’s simple cross found Corcoran, and the 30-year-old striker converted via the post to give Bohs the lead.

The Dublin club had plenty of chances to add to their lead in the second half, but Harps ‘keeper Peter Burke kept the visitors in the game.

The visitors from Donegal’s return to the top division ended in defeat, and Harps now have a home clash with Dundalk to look forward to next week.

Written by david_smith

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