After much disruption to the domestic calendar due to Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers European adventures, the competitive games are now coming thick and fast as re-arranged matches are crammed in to an already congested fixture list. Dundalk and Bohemians both enjoyed comprehensive Premier Division victories on Friday night, scoring a combined 15 goals, and face a quick turn around for a big league cup semi-final at Oriel Park on Monday night (kick-off 7:45PM).
This was the competition that got away from Dundalk and Stephen Kenny last seasons as the league and cup winners opted to field an extremely weakened side away to Cobh Ramblers in the semi-finals as Stephen Henderson’s “Rams” shocked the mighty Dundalk. Derry City, who await the winner of this tie between Dundalk and Bohs, went on to win the competition and lift a first trophy at the new Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
Having made six changes for Friday’s 5-0 hammering of Finn Harps at the County Louth venue, Dundalk boss Vinny Perth will feel confident that whatever side he opts to field on Monday should have enough to see off a rival that Dundalk have dominated in the head to head stakes this season.
However, the record of 3 Dundalk wins from 3 meetings doesn’t tell the entire story as late goals have been the tale of the tape in these matches. The most famous of those late goals was Pat Hoban’s 96th minute penalty at Oriel in a 2-1 win that effectively kick-started the “Lilywhites” revival in the title race. That late Hoban strike from the spot saw Dundalk go on a winning run that overturned Shamrock Rovers double digits lead at the summit with the Town currently unbeaten in 17 domestic matches.
While Dundalk’s euro exit came as a major disappointment, Friday’s heavy defeat of Finn Harps was the perfect tonic but if scoring five is impressive how about scoring ten! That’s the feat achieved by Bohemians as the “Gypsies” embarrassed UCD at Dalymount Park on Friday night, 10-1 the final score.
There were hat-tricks for Andre Wright (4 goals) & Danny Mandroiu as Bohs got revenge on the Students for a shock 1-0 defeat just a few weeks previous (later changed to a 3-0 defeat as Bohemians fielded a suspended player) while supporters will have enjoyed the opportunity to rub the result in to suspended UCD keeper Conor Kearns after he celebrated in front of the Bohs supporters after that win, sparking a full on brawl which led to both his own and Bohemians defender Derek Penders lengthy suspensions.
Overall, Bohemians are in decent form at present with 3 wins from their last 5 in all competitions, scoring an impressive 17 goals in the process while conceding 5. For comparison, Dundalk have scored 12 times in their last 5 domestic matches while conceding just 2 goals.
While it certainly wasn’t evident in Tallaght on Tuesday as Dundalk crashed out of Europe at the hands of Slovan Bratislava, the “Lilywhites” defensive solidity regardless of what four players make up their back line is simply incredible and gives Vinny Perth’s attacking players that extra license to be more aggressive in going forward.
Georgie Kelly was on the scoresheet against Finn Harps and holds a brilliant career record of 47 career goals in 57 career starts (stat credit @JamesDundalk) while it was encouraging to see Dundalk play-maker Patrick McEleney back on song with a wonderful double against the Donegal club. Sean Murray is another Dundalk midfielder finding his way back to form and fitness and may play a key role again on Monday night.
In conclusion, Dundalk have shown an ability to get past Keith Long’s Bohemians by hook or by crook this season and are coming into this semi-final in excellent form while the opportunity to right the wrongs of last seasons League Cup campaign is sure to keep the Town grounded and focused for the visit of the Dubliners.
While it’s always a gamble trying to preempt team news, it would be surprising if Georgie Kelly didn’t play some sort of role in this league cup semi-final on Monday night. While Vinny Perth maybe mindful of wanting to keep his top marksmen Pat Hoban sharp after a sloppy performance off the bench on Friday night, one would imagine the Galway native will start Friday’s mega cup clash with Derry City at the Brandywell meaning the number nines involvement may be restricted tonight. Also in a very significant piece of team news ahead of tonight’s game, Bohemians shot-stopper James Talbott will only be able to watch on from the stands due to suspension. Talbott has been sensational since arriving into the League of Ireland from Sunderland and will be a major absence for the “Gypsies”, who haven’t lifted a major trophy since the 2010 Setanta Cup success, a competition that is now defunct.
*All odds correct at time of publishing*
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