Welcome back to another instalment of my FM20 journey as we start the 2023 League Season plus I manage my first European tie. Straight into the action – St. Pat’s at theirs on opening day.
10th February 2023 – St. Pat’s Athletic (A) – Irish Premier Division
We make the 60 mile journey south to Dublin to face a St. Pat’s side who could well be our closest contenders for the title again this year, though I expect Shamrock to improve on their 4th from last season as well.
Going for positive wing play – McGarvey will be a star, Connolly needs some time to become more attacking but Duffy is already there. Benson, Holloway & Rea make a really nice middle 3, Corrigan & Gannon are good full backs and Moore & O’Shea are good centre backs. O’Malley is the best Keeper in the league as well. That said I’m looking to do plenty of business to make this team capable of getting somewhere in Europe again this season – so much money to be made there. St. Pat’s will go with a 4-4-1-1, also Positive. Should be a good game.
FT St. Pat’s Athletic 1 (Desmond 40) Dundalk 0 Att 1,720 (392 Away)
We kick off the league season in our black and grey away kit this evening. And it’s a slowish start in the drizzle. We have a few highlights, Duffy creating most of the trouble, and a McGarvey header from a Holloway free kick nearly gets bundled over after a save by Bossin, but it’s scrambled away. Dundalk very much in the ascendancy, but out of nowhere St. Pats take the lead – a free kick not cleared, falling to Desmond, who taps home. FM’d. 1-0 St. Pat’s at Half Time…
Forde on for Connolly at the break, Duffy over to the left as an IF(A), Forde W(A). Nothing much happening, White on for Corrigan at left back in the 60th minute. 75, Kelly on for McGarvey, F9. Last 5, a really good chance but its one of the those games. A 1-0 loss, really not very good, hoping its a Cohesion thing.
Just 3 goals on the opening day, Cobh losing to newly-promoted Longford.
Well that was shit; Shelbourne next in 3 days.
NEW SIGNING (LOAN)
- 19yo Belgian DC, capped at U20 level
- 6ft 1in
- In game comes in from Standard Liege, IRL the same, after joining from Anderlecht in 2019
We welcome Nathan Ngoy to Dundalk for the season. A starting DC, 15 heading & Tackling, solid Physicals and good passing, he should be a monster at his level. Currently by CA in the squad screen he’s the best player at the club, so £1.5k/week is a steal. Welcome Nathan.
Not too bad as well – Just under 2,200 season tickets sold.
13th February 2023 – Shelbourne (H) – Irish Premier Division
Our first home game of the season, we welcome a Shelbourne side who lost 1-0 to Derry City on Friday. Obviously we are big favourites, lets hope for a better performance in front of goal.
Looking forward to seeing Ngoy play, White starts at left back in place of Corrigan. Holloway and Rea swap roles, McEleney comes in as the playmaker. Duffy swaps to the left as an IW, Kelly comes in as the right winger with stalwart Patrick Hoban up top. Looking for a better performance, doesn’t have to be 5-0, just better. Shelbourne start with a 4-2-1-3 2DM Wide… Cautious.
FT Dundalk 4 (Kelly 1, Hoban pen 8, pen 89, McEleney 42) Shelbourne 0 Att 3,195 (120 Away)
More rain – I can’t get away from it in either FM19 or 20 – must be the Celtic countries… And we are in our customary White shirts. A long first highlight… And its a goal for Dundalk 🙂 An initial shot from Hoban is gathered by McCabe, but his clearance rapidly makes its way back up the pitch, until McEleney slips Kelly the ball, and he sidesteps and finishes from 8 yards. That’s more like it!!! Dundalk very much on top. And it’s penalty Dundalk, Ferdinand with a push on Rea at a Corner. Patrick Hoban steps up… and slots it away, bottom right. 2-0 Dundalk, 8 minutes on the clock. McCabe stops it being 3-0 with a good save from McEleney, then one from Hoban. Quieter towards the end of the half but in the 42nd minute its 3 – McEleney crashing one in off the underside of the bar from 15 yards. Very nice indeed. Dominant – 3-0 at the break.
Quiet up to the 60th minute – Corrigan on for White, Benson for Rea, 2 playmakers in the middle of midfield. Last 15, Forde on for Duffy, swaps sides with Kelly. Almost done, but we get another penalty – 89th minute, Hoban hauled down by Oscar Brennan. He steps up himself… same result, same spot, even though McCabe guesses right. 4-0. And that’s that. Much better indeed 🙂
Ours was the only game today. Next up we welcome a little team from Romania, 3 days time…
5 of the lads in the Irish Premier Division Team of the Week.
Nobody 2 for 2 as Derry, Longford & St. Pat’s all lose. Already worrying for Cobh…
Having to play at the Tallaght as Oriel Park isn’t big enough (minimum 8,000 non-terraced capacity) for Conference League ties. Steaua are slight favourites, our scouts don’t show them having players too far outside of our ability.
16th February – FCSB (ROU) (H – Tallaght Stadium, Dublin) – Europa Conference League 1st Knockout Round
An interesting single-leg knockout tie this evening, 60 miles south at Tallaght Stadium (Home to Shamrock Rovers) in Dublin, versus an FCSB side (Were Steaua Bucharest until 2017 after being sued by the Army they had to change to FCSB – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCSB) who have not been in the top 3 in Romania for the past 3 seasons. But as that’s not a playable league anything could happen, let’s be honest.
This is the last 32, and there as some decent teams in here (PSV the pick, but there’s also CSKA Moscow and Fenerbahce) but 16 other teams have a bye to the 2nd Knockout Round (and I can’t see who they are yet) so I’d expect even better there. The Final is 6 games away 🙂
FCSB qualified 2nd in their Conference League group, we qualified finishing 3rd in our Europa League group. Hoping for a good showing. £129k just for showing up – £301k if we get to the 2nd Knockout Round…
Ngoy, McGarvey & Connolly are all unregistered for this tie (But can be registered for the next I believe) so we are largely unchanged – Corrigan at left back for White, 18yo Ray Moore in for Ngoy, Hoban the penalty-taker keeps his place. No expectations. FCSB start with a Cautious 4-2-3-1, we move back to Balanced.
FT Dundalk 2 (Kelly 7, Rea 15) FCSB 0 Att 8,000 (250 Away)
We kick off versus the Red Shirt/short Blue socks of FCSB at Tallaght this early evening (1755 kick off). And it’s a great start 🙂 1-0 Dundalk in the 7th minute, very lax FCBS defending allows Gannon to wander into the box, squares it to Kelly, who has time on the ball just 8 yards out, and he buries it bottom right past Vlad in the FCSB goal (Bet he hates crosses etc. etc.) 1-0 Dundalk. 2-0 in the 15th – a lovely free kick into the box from the halfway line out wide left from Holloway – O’Shea heading into the mixer and Rea gets the last touch, the ball thundering into the roof of the FCSB net, flicking the underside of the crossbar. A beautiful start! 24th minute, Dundalk free kick, Tanase shoves O’Shea, who causing all kinds of problems (6ft 2in, 13 Heading 14 Jumping Reach) – Going to the Video Assistant………. Penalty! Hoban steps up as the drizzle falls… and Vlad saves, low to his right. Bugger. Though to be fair the decision looked a bit soft. They get their first highlight just before the half hour, but we get the ball back and nearly score again, it’s one of those games. To be Fair Vlad has stopped it from being 5 or 6-0. Absolutely nothing coming from FCSB, how the mighty have fallen… 2-0 Dundalk at the break.
More of the same please. Quiet first 10 – Jordan Kelly on for Hoban, who with having that peno saved is on a 6.1… Not a single highlight. 75 gone, Forde for Daniel Kelly on the right wing, Benson for Rea, Carillero instead of BBM. Time ticking down, just the 1 off target shot from FCSB this evening. And that’s that!!! dominant. 2-0. 2nd Knockout Round here we come!!
Shocked definitely, though they showed nothing all game.
Plzen from Czechia knocking CSKA Moscow out is a bit of a shock, and Valerenga of Norway took Basel to extras.
And we have the draw for the 2nd Knockout Round…
Away to Nice!! 10th in Ligue 1 currently, yeah, a different gravy and possibly the toughest draw possible. It’s one game though, anything can happen 🙂 That will be our first game in March.
A couple of League games on the Friday – Looking bleak for Cobh already. One of the worst things about FM is leaving a club only to see them getting tanked every week.
And there’s the results from the Leinster Senior Cup 4th Round, where we play St. Mochtas tomorrow. Shocks were Athlone (Money bags, they are paying Dara Costelloe £1,300 per week!!) getting knocked out by Crumlin Utd and Cabo beating Longford.
Our U19’s beat Letterkenny 2-1, goals from 20yo ML Mark Hanratty & 17yo AMR Martin Kenny.
19th February 2023 – St. Mochtas (H) – Leinster Senior Cup 4th Round
From playing a former European Cup winner (1985/86 season) we welcome Saint Mochtas (Dublin 15, Leinster Senior League Senior Division) to Oriel Park rotating the entire team – we have a President’s Cup game in 5 days, I think against Shamrock as they won the Senior Challenge Cup last season – we are currently in 7 live competitions…
Complete Rotation, Connolly & Ngoy get some game time, and we go more attacking with McShane as the No. 10. St. Mochtas go with a 4-2-1-3 2DM Wide, same as Shelbourne did against us…
FT Dundalk 5 (McGarvey 14, 16, 28, White 36, Boyle 55) St. Mochtas 0 Att 2,227(15 Away)
It’s not raining 🙂 As expected Dundalk with the majority of the play. And we open the scoring in the 14th minute, a McGarvey header from a Connolly corner for his first of the season and competitive goal for Dundalk. 2-0 in the 16th, McGarvey again following a nice driving run inside from Forde and a lovely slipped pass from Shields. And he should have had a 3 minute hat-trick, missing an easy 1-on-1… It’s a 12-minute perfect hat-trick though (Head, left, right), McGarvey making a lovely run after a beautiful pass from Shields on the Counter, tucking the ball in at the 2nd time of asking. And the rain is now falling… St. Mochtas have the ball in the Dundalk net from a corner, but it’s disallowed for pushing. 4-0, 36th minute, Aidan White, Direct Free Kick from 25 yards. HT, 4-0.
55th minute, 5-0, Boyle with a header from a Forde deep free kick. 60 mins, triple subbage, Jordan Kelly for McGarvey, Tormey for Connolly, Benson for McShane. Hardly anything else after the subs, 5-0 it finished.
Shelbourne also won 5-0 in the other Cup game, versus Bluebell Utd.
And we have the Quarter Final Draw:
Drogheda (Season Preview 3rd in the First Division). Shamrock v St. Pat’s means one of the big-guns is gone as well.
Next game is in 4 days – The President’s Cup (At ours) versus Shamrock Rovers – Meaning we play them twice in 3 days as we have them in the League on the 27th, our last game in February.
Waterford go top with a good win at Cork – quite a change from last season for them!
There has also been the draw for the 1st Round of the League Cup…
Finn Harps (Season Preview 4th in the First Division) make the trip to Oriel Park from Co. Donegal. St. Pat’s draw Shamrock in another cup! That game will be in April.
24th February 2023 – Shamrock Rovers (H) – Irish President’s Cup
We welcome Shamrock Rovers to Oriel Park this evening for the Irish version of the Community Shield – League Winners versus Cup Winners. A win tonight means 5 wins in a row in this save, and we fully expect Irish President Michael D. Higgins at the ground to present the trophy (taking into account he has to get to 2023 to do so)…
It will be a good test ahead of our League game with them in 3 days at Tallaght Stadium (Again, after the 2-0 versus FCSB…). The board don’t care about this one, but I don’t want to lose…
So Ngoy & Gannon are rested at the back, McEleney in the middle, Duffy, Daniel Kelly & McGarvey rested up top. In come Moore, Sheehan, Benson, Tormey, Forde & Hoban. Looking to be almost full strength for the League game. Shamrock start with a 4-4-2, old friend Brian Sammon up top.
FT Dundalk 0 Shamrock Rovers 2 (Power 11, McEneff 86) Att 4,500 (225 Away)
A quiet start but Shamrock take the lead in the 11th minute, a Simon Power Power-Header bottom right from a Sammon cross. Poor defending. Very quiet game, 1-0 at HT.
“Show me something else” – Kelly on for Forde, McGarvey for Hoban at 60. Gannon for Sheehan for the last 20. Dundalk pushing for the equaliser… Gannon clattering the post in the 80th minute. Going more attacking. And from nowhere it’s 2-0, McEneff from 25 yards… Whatever. 2-0 it finished, hoping to be facing the same team with my first team in a few days to exact revenge.
More League football, Cobh now 4 losses for 4…
Our U19’s beat St. Michael’s 5-1, goals from 16yo DL Anthony Hurley, 18yo AMC Brian Stapleton, 19yo STC Macedonian triallist Vladimir Noveski & a brace from 18yo MR Dan Cross.
27th February 2023 – Shamrock Rovers (A) – Irish Premier Division
We travel the 60 miles to Tallaght Stadium looking for revenge this evening – games are coming thick and fast though so we need to keep our collective heads.
Full strength (Even though we have Nice in the Conference League 2nd Knockout Round in 3 days) with McGarvey, Duffy, Daniel Kelly, McEleney, White, Ngoy & Gannon all back. Shamrock go 4-4-2 again, same side by the looks of it.
FT Shamrock Rovers 0 Dundalk 2 (Kelly 17, Keeshan o.g. 70) Att 4,065 (627 Away)
Black and Grey this evening as we try to get back to winning ways. Quiet early doors, but we take the lead in the 17th minute, good probing play leading to a Duffy cross finding its way to Kelly via a Shamrock head, and he finished well on the volley. 1-0 Dundalk. Shamrock do look dangerous going forward though. But compared to the Dundalk boys their condition is pretty low. 1-0 at HT
60 minutes comes and goes, Forde on for Daniel Kelly, Corrigan for White at left-back. And then a howler by Shamrock keeper Keeshan. In attempting to control a back-pass from Dummigan he gets a heavy touch, and the ball trickles into the goal. 2-0 Dundalk. Benson on for Rea, 15 left. Duffy scores in the 88th minute – offside. And it finishes 2-0, I’ll take that.
St. Pat’s continue their good start beating newly-promoted Longford 5-2.
That’s it for games this month – our next game in 3 days is in the South of France 🙂 A few last bits left.
Conor, Ryan & Dara make the Premier Division Team of the Week.
6 games planned for next month currently, having just played 6 from 10th February
No goals conceded when winning, no goals scored when losing… March will be interesting. If we can somehow overcome the huge gulf between us and OGC Nice then a 2-legged Quarter Final is in the offing. Cork will be a tough-ish one, the rest should be wins, including the emotional trip to Cobh at the end of the month.
I leave you with the key highlights from the games this month. See you next time.