Eight games take place across the course of the weekend in round 2 of the FAI Cup with Derry City V Dundalk the headline act, especially given the fact the two sides will now also contest the 2019 League Cup final in September after the “Lilywhites” put six past Bohemians in the second semi-final on Monday night at Oriel Park (6-1 the final score).
Ahead of the next round of Ireland’s blue ribbon cup event, Kieran Burke has taken an in-depth look at what he feels are the top three games taking place in the knockout competition this weekend.
A trip to the Brandywell Stadium is one of the most difficult assignments reigning league and cup winners Dundalk could have been handed at this stage of the competition, although “Lilywhite” supporters will come into this one with high confidence levels following the Town’s 6-1 hammering of Bohemians on Monday and a 5-0 league win at home to Finn Harps last Friday.
With the likes of Patrick McEleney and Pat Hoban really starting to come into form off the back of Dundalk’s euro exit at the hands of Slovan Bratislava, opposition defences will be having nightmares at the prospect of facing treble chasing Dundalk as the domestic season approaches its business end of the calendar.
As for Derry City, Declan Devine has enjoyed a fabulous return to the club he led to the 2012 FAI Cup trophy with the “Candystripes” well in the hunt for European qualification for next season, currently sitting just three points behind Bohemians in 3rd. Of course, an FAI Cup success would guarantee City a place in next season’s Europa League qualifiers but with Dundalk unbeaten in their last 21 domestic matches.
Patrick Hoban scored four times in Dundalk’s 6-1 demolition job of Bohemians on Monday night in the league cup semi-final while Patrick McEleney has roared back to form with 3 goals in his last two games.
Derry City lost 2-0 at home to title chasing Shamrock Rovers on Friday night but that doesn’t tell the whole story as David Parkhouse missed a chance to equalise from the spot for City before Aaron Greene followed up ex-Derry midfielder Aaron McEneff’s converted 64th minute penalty to keep the title race alive for Stephen Bradley’s “Hoops”, who now trail Dundalk by 4 points at the summit.
The fixture list has been kind to Devine’s men of late with Friday’s upcoming match at the Brandywell the 4th consecutive home outing for Derry City, who struggled past the First Division’s bottom club Wexford FC in the first round (1-0).
A 4-2 win over Waterford FC in the league cup semi-finals (after extra-time) preceded that FAI Cup win and if you count that result as an outright win (technically it’s classed as a draw) then Derry City have won 4 of their last 5 matches in all competitions.
IMPORTANT TEAM NEWS:
Despite that costly penalty miss against Shamrock Rovers, Northern Ireland under-21 striker David Parkhouse has been in wonderful form for Derry City of late, notching an impressive 5 goals in his last 9 league games. However, Declan Devine will have to plan without the services of Parkhouse after he picked up a costly eighth yellow card of the season against Shamrock Rovers.
While Conor Davies, who is likely to start up front in place of Parkhouse, is an extremely dangerous attacker due to his quick feet and clever off the ball movement, the loss of David Parkhouse, who is knocking on the door of Michael O’Neill’s senior Northern Irish squad, is a major blow to the “Candystripes” FAI Cup hopes.
With Derry City proving to be very awkward opponents for Dundalk so far this season by claiming two 2-2 draws (one home and one away), the “Candystripes” have still failed to beat the “Lilywhites” so far this term with the Town winning 2-0 at the Brandywell at the beginning of the campaign in March (Sean Murray & Pat Hoban the scorers).
As a result, expect another very tight and nail-bitting encounter, which very well may require extra-time and even penalties but the vote is an away win (15/20) as an on-fire Dundalk FC look to take another step towards a domestic treble as well as laying down a marker for next months League Cup final against their hosts on Friday night.
Although I expect this to be a tight encounter, there’s no guarantee that means we will see a low scoring game as displayed by the sides two 2-2 draws this season and Dundalk’s comprehensive win earlier on this season so a Dundalk win and under 2.5 or 3.5 goals may not be the best way to go.
Including Dundalk in your accumulator at 20/21 is the smart move here while you can’t ignore Patrick Hoban off the back of a first-half hat-trick and 4 goals on Monday night with the Galway man to score first/anytime well worth following up (awaiting odds).
BOHEMIANS V LONGFORD TOWN, Fri 23rd Aug, Dalymount Park, 7:45pm.
With just 3 games remaining in the First Division campaign and Longford Town only requiring one more win to secure an end of season play-off berth, it seems incredible that “De Town” are coming into Friday’s game at Dalymount Park without their manager Neale Fenn but that is exactly the situation the 2003 & 2004 FAI Cup winners find themselves in after the former Tottenham youth team player sensationally walked out of the club on Wednesday night with his appointment as Cork City boss now appearing imminent.
Fenn’s number two, Daire Doyle is expected to take charge for Friday’s second-round cup tie and for the remainder of the 2019 campaign with ex-Dundalk player Stephen Maher coming in as assistant manager.
Doyle, an ex-Longford Town player, is well respected within the dressing room and is an extremely popular figure among the clubs fans, who are likely to rally around the former Cabinteely player as he unexpectedly steps into the City Calling Stadium hot-seat.
As for Keith Long’s Bohemians, from the incredible high of scoring 10 against UCD on Friday to the hurtful low of conceding 6 in a league cup semi-final against Dundalk on Monday, the “Gypsies” will be keen to avoid further embarrassment when they host First Division opposition on Friday.
“De Town” also come into this cup tie wounded after a well below par showing in a 2-0 home defeat against Shelbourne, which ends all hope of the Midlands outfit lifting the First Division title this season. While the play-offs are still a route into the top-flight for the 2014 First Division winners, supporters of Longford will be expecting some sort of reaction when they travel to Dalymount Park on Friday night.
Excluding “Bohs” 6-1 defeat on Monday, the “Gypsies” had scored 13 in their last two results (a 10-1 league win V UCD and a 3-2 FAI Cup win over Shelbourne). It will take character from the Bohemians to bounce back from Monday’s humbling at the hands of Dundalk but that shouldn’t be an issue as this group of players dug into to stage a memorable comeback in the last round of this competition, scoring three times in the final six minutes to sicken Dublin rivals Shelbourne in an absolute cup classic at Dalymount Park.
A second string Longford side came from behind to comfortably defeat local rivals Athlone Town 3-1 at the City Calling Stadium last week in a re-arranged FAI Cup tie.
More breaking managerial news from the LOI tonight! I understand Neale Fenn has left @LongfordTownFC, he was interviewed by @CorkCityFC this week & is expected to be confirmed as their new manager. Currently on Pro Licence with current Cork caretaker John Cotter, very interesting
— @JamieMoore (@JamieMooreSport) August 21, 2019
Looking at both clubs last 6 matches in all competitions, Bohemians have won 50% of those with 3 wins (defeating UCD, Shelbourne and St.Pat’s), 2 defeats (Dudalk and Finn Harps) and a draw (1-1 away to Sligo) while Longford have won 4 (Athlone x2, Galway United and Drogheda) and lost 2 (Shelbourne and Cabinteely).
Obviously, it has to be remembered these are two sides operating in very different spheres with Bohemians currently sitting in a European qualification place for next season while Longford are an outsider in terms of promotion to the top-flight for next year.
Longford’s record at Dalymount Park is extremely poor with the Midlands outfit not tasting a victory at the Dublin venue since August 2006 when an Alan Kirby goal proved enough to secure “De Town” their first and only win ever at the former Ireland international home base.
Interestingly, Bohemians and Longford both play in red and black after the Dublin club gifted Longford a set of strips when the Midlands outfit were formed in 1924 with the first meeting between the sides taking place in the FAI Cup in 1951 at Dalymount Park.
With Bohemians league cup hopes being cruelly dashed on Monday night, Keith Long and his players will be aware this is now the “Gypsies” last chance to lift major silverware with the Capital club without a major piece of silverware since winning the 2010 Setanta Cup, a competition that has been defunct for several years now.
Many wondered how “Bohs” may cope without the services of injured top marksman Dinny Corcoran but the young guns of Danny Mandroiu, Andrew Wright and Ryan Swan have filled the void wonderfully well while Longford have struggled to unearth a clinical frontman all season long.
Before the news of Fenn’s departure broke, I had this down as an easy “Bohs” win. However, the complexion of this cup tie has now totally changed and you really can’t gauge how Longford Town FC as a club will react to the blow of losing their charismatic first-team boss.
Personally, I expect the Town’s young guns to come out firing (apologies for the pun) and feeling as if they have a point to prove. A +2 Handicap bet on Longford may return a small profit for you but that’s the name of the game isn’t it?
SHAMROCK ROVERS V DROGHEDA UNITED
Shamrock Rovers haven’t given up on the league title yet, trailing Dundalk by four points after hammering lowly Waterford FC 5-1 at the RSC on Monday night. As much as Rovers fans would love to end an 8 year wait for the Premier Division trophy to return to the Tallaght Stadium, it’s the the “Hoops” 32 years of hurt in the FAI cup that followers of the Dublin club have been crying out for an end to in recent seasons.
Friday night’s opponents Drogheda United were indeed the side that piled further cup misery on Stephen Bradley’s charges last season as Tim Clancy’s First Division side dumped the mighty Shamrock Rovers out of the FAI Cup with a 1-0 victory at United Park, Chris Lyon’s scoring the decisive goal on the night.
United come into the latest cup clash in good fettle, sitting second in the First Division standings and still holding out hopes of a title win of their own as the “Drogs” trail Shelbourne by 5 points with 3 league games remaining, one of which is a head to head showdown with the “Reds” in County Louth.
Clancy’s charges have won 15 of their 24 league matches this season, scoring a division best of 55 goals (although the back four has been slightly leaky, conceding 29).
Shamrock Rovers have lost the same number of league games as Drogheda this term (6) and have won 18 of their 28 matches with 4 draws.
It’s Shamrock Rovers home form that stands out as a key factor ahead of this round 2 FAI Cup tie with the “Hoops” only going down twice at home, winning 8 of 13 Tallaght Stadium league matches and drawing 3 times. Only Dundalk have a better home record in the top-flight while it should also be noted Rovers defeated SK Brann (Norway) & Apollon Limassol (Cyprus) at the Tallaght Stadium in this season’s Europa League qualifiers, a real indication of the sizeable task facing second-tier Drogheda United on Friday.
On the other hand, Drogheda have fared well on the road in the First Division this season, winning 7 from 12 away from home, drawing once and losing 4 times.
Jack Byrne was absolutely sensational once again on Monday night for Rovers as calls for another Ireland call-up continue to intensify for the former Manchester City youngster. Aaron Greene was also on the scoresheet at the Munster venue and maybe asked to step up by manager Stephen Bradley after the departure of Dan Carr to none other than Apolon Limassol, who clearly liked what they saw from the Englishman during their recent Europa League encounters.
Ronan Finn is another midfielder who has been excellent for the Dubliners this season and in all honesty it’s just too hard to see how such quality won’t eventually shine through in this cup clash against Drogheda on Friday night.
The verdict is a Shamrock Rovers win with Aaron Greene an anytime goalscorer (awaiting odds).
Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians, Cork City & St.Pat’s to win. A €10.50 stake could return €50.91.
FAI Cup round 2 fixtures in full:
Friday, 23rd August, 7:45pm:
- UCD V St.Pats
- Galway United V Cork City
- Bohemians V Longford Town
- Shamrock Rovers V Drogheda United
Saturday, 24th August:
- Sligo Rovers V Limerick FC (8:00pm)
- Glengad United V Waterford FC (5:00pm)
Sunday, 25th August, 2:00pm:
- Crumlin United V Lucan United
* All odds correct at time of publishing*
*Please gamble responsibly, see Dunlewey.net*