Something a little bit different to start this month – a trip to Nice on the Cote d’Azur to face an OGC Nice side that should thump us – It’s a one-off game though, can we go and do an old-fashioned FM on them??
Prior to that (On the 2nd) the usual start of month fodder.
Stephen Bradley rightly Manager of the Month for the Irish Premier Division.
2nd March 2023 – OGC Nice (FRA – A) – UEFA Europa Conference League Second Knockout Round
Currently we would need to make the almost-1,300 mile journey by road and Ferry (24 hours at least) but in more forgiving times we’d be hoping on a Dublin to Nice flight via Charles De Gaulle, which would take about 5 hours in total. As we have a bit of cash I’d say we’d overnight before and after the game as well (The extravagance of it all!!!) – The Hyatt Regency is nice apparently 🙂
OGC Nice (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OGC_Nice) are currently 10th in Ligue 1, and have been ever present since the 2002/03 season. During this save they have finished 11th, 3rd and 5th, and have ended up in this one-off knockout by winning their Conference League Group (Containing Djurgardens, Standard Liege & Maccabi Tel-Aviv). They have been having a mixed time of it this year so far; 14 games, W4 D5 L5, but should have far too much for us this evening. Let’s go and enjoy it (as much as we can) knowing we pick up another £300k at the end of it (at least).
Going as full strength as we can (No Ngoy or McGarvey due arriving after the registration date) – in a quandary between trying to shithouse it or to play our normal game – think I’ll go with the latter. Nice play an OP 4-4-2…
FT OGC Nice 2 (Trossard pen 31, Belloni 52) Dundalk 1 (Hoban 69) Att 35,596 (190 Away)
A spicy start, 2 yellows shared in the first 4 minutes, and Hoban had a good chance but scuffed his shot. Amazingly it’s a tight game in the first 20, Dundalk with 58% possession! And we’re being given space to play as well. And Hoban hits the post from 22 yards in the 22nd minute… Really good play from the lads. Then in the 31st minute a soft penalty to Nice – an apparent push by Rea, defending a deep free kick… Big Team Bias. Trossard scores the penalty. Duffy has a good chance in stoppage time, dragging his shot wide. We go in 1-0 down, very unlucky indeed.
Almost a capacity crowd in (Don’t know if we get a share of the gate or not) with 190 intrepid Dundalkians. 2-0 in the 52nd, Rafael walks through and crosses to Belloni, on his own at the back post. White for Corrigan, Benson for Rea (2 yellow carders off). Should have been 2-1 in the 68th, a crazy double save by Rajkovic (21 Caps for Serbia) from Dan Kelly at the back post and then Hoban. And then the sublime to the ridiculous – 2-1! A beautiful ball over from Moore, Rajkovic comes for it and doesn’t get anywhere near, Hoban controls it beautiful as he rounds the flapping Keeper and taps in. 20 minutes lads!! Fresh legs Forde on for Kelly. And Nice nearly gift us the 2nd, a horrendous cross-pitch clearance going straight to Forde, who gets blocked just whilst shooting. Squeaky-Bummage from the Frenchmen! Time ticks down, stoppages, and highlights! First a Dundalk corner, headed away and nearly a breakaway goal for Belloni. Then the end-of-game highlight.. and it comes to nothing. 2-1 Nice in the end; we made a bloody good fist of it! (Look at the match stats!!)
From what I saw there Nice won’t win it – Slavia Prague beating Basel is a bit of a shock, Sporting & Hoffenheim must fancy it…
Right – Off to Sligo in just 3 days – reckon we won’t be back in Ireland until Friday and we play at 3pm on Sunday, rest is in order for the lads, and a bit of rotation.
NEW SIGNING (LOAN)
A real signal of intent, we bring in Aaron Jenkinson (19, 6ft) from Leicester on a Season-long loan at £2.6k/wk! He joins our other loanee Nathan Ngoy as the best players at the club by CA. He’s had 4 sub-appearances in the Premier league this season, with Leicester currently in 7th. He’ll be our primary playmaker (15 passing, 15 vision & really nice physicals) – he’s straight into the Irish Premier Division Media Dream 11 (We have 10 of the 11 players in there).
Waterford, St. Pat’s and Cork all pegged back with draws, Cobh now 5 losses from 5 🙁 🙁 🙁
Our U19’s beat Wexford U19’s 2-0, 19yo STC Harry Durham with the goals.
5th March 2023 – Sligo Rovers (A) – Irish Premier Division
We make the 2 and a half hour journey across the breadth of Ireland to play a Sligo side who avoided relegation last season via the playoff but has started OK this season, currently in 7th. Indeed they beat St. Pat’s 1-0 so can’t be taken lightly.
McGarvey straight back in up top, with McShane getting a go on the right. Holloway is rested so Rea goes to DM & Benson plays as the BBM, with Jenkinson coming straight in as the DLP. Tring our youngsters Moore & Ngoy together at the back. Sligo are going 4-3-3 – we will go around them hopefully.
FT Sligo Rovers 1 (Parkes 87) Dundalk 3 (McShane 22, 43, Rea 58) Att 1,775 (280 Away)
In the black and grey this afternoon. And it’s a good attacking start from both teams. Sligo having a good go. We’re getting chances too though. And we take the lead in the 23rd minute – McShane (Who’s looked like a real live-wire), finishing after good forward movement on the counter from Gannon and a Jenkinson pass. 1-0 Dundalk. McGinty in the Sligo goal has kept them in it. And McShane makes it 2-0 in the 43rd, and it’s possibly the hardest header I’ve seen in FM. Duffy takes the corner, Jenkinson absolutely bullets the header and McShane is Johnny-on-the-spot to guide the ball in. 2 assists for new-boy Jenkinson, 2 goals for McShane in his first game of the season! 2-0 at the break, Sligo giving as good as they’ve been getting though.
Sligo start dangerously, nearly picking us off with the long-bomb, but we always look likely to score going forward as well – will be surprised if this finishes 2-0. Duffy has looked so dangerous, but he just can’t finish. 3-0 in the 58th, a thunderbastard from 25 yards from Rea! From standing still as well, hardly any back-lift in the animation 🙂 Dan Kelly coming on for Duffy as an IW(A), O’Shea on for Gannon as a more defensive wing-back. Benson off with 15 left, Holloway on, swaps with Rea. McGarvey has the ball in the net not long after the sub, but is a couple of yards offside. Sligo get a consolation in the 87th, a Parkes header. 3-1 it finished. A lovely debut from Jenkinson & first game of the season from McShane.
Win our game in hand and we’ll be top. 5 days until our next game – Leinster Senior Cup QF action versus Drogheda.
Some more league games on the Monday – St. Pat’s showing their title credentials with a 2-0 win over high-flying Waterford, as do Shamrock. And Cobh get points!!! a goal for Brandon Bermingham (I bought him in on loan from Larne) versus 2nd bottom Shelbourne.
Keeper Conor, Winger Colm and new boy Aaron in the IPD Team of the Week.
Scenes in Turin as Juve turn around a 4-1 first leg defeat in the Champions League 1st Knockout Round. Ronaldo going strong at 38!!
10th March 2023 – Drogheda Utd (H) – Leinster Senior Cup Quarter Final
We welcome a Drogheda side that we know well from our time at Cobh, though we missed each other last season as we were promoted and they relegated in 2021. Last season they finished 5th in the First Division, and they currently sit 2nd with 4 wins out of 5 games, only losing to U.C.D. this season so far. We beat them 3-0 at the start of the season in Chris Shields’ Testimonial, just before I joined.
A bit of rotation – Hoban back in up top, Connolly continuing his training to be a more attacking winger, White & Sheehan as the wing-backs, Boyle & O’Shea the experienced defensive duo. resting Ngoy, Moore, Gannon, McGarvey, Jenkinson, Duffy & McShane from the last game, with Corrigan & Rea on the bench. Drogheda go with a 3-4-2-1 2DM Cautious formation. Will need to be careful on the break I think.
FT Dundalk 2 (McEleney 50, Dan Kelly 54) Drogheda Utd 0 Att 3,606 (144 Away)
Stair-rods falling from the sky this evening as Dundalk start strongly. But then it goes very quiet, looks like the Drogheda formation shutting the game down. 0-0 at HT.
It takes a wonder goal to break the deadlock, and McEleney delivers it – a cracker from 25 yards (Long Shots 14). 4 minutes later its 2-0, Dan Kelly with a lovely header from a Connolly cross (I moved both wingers back to make a 4-1-4-1 formation at HT). 65 gone, Jordan Kelly for Hoban. Forde for Kelly on 75. Last sub Shields for Benson just after 80. Drogheda have a bit more of the game in the last 10 but it finishes 2-0. Professional.
All ordinary results, though Bray had to go to extra time versus Crumlin.
Derry put Sligo to the sword in the only league game of the day. Cork City next up for us on Monday.
Our U19’s beat Wexford U19’s 3-0, goals from Jordan Kelly, Seamus Conneely & and an O.G..
13th March 2023 – Cork City (H) – Irish Premier Division
We welcome a Cork side currently in 6th to Oriel Park for our 4th game of the month so far – Draws against Shamrock & St. Pat’s and a loss to Waterford are the only blemishes on their record this season so far. Expecting a moderately tough one.
That said we are at full strength today, and we’re looking forward to it. Cork go with a Defensive 4-4-1-1 – Eoghan Stokes the danger man behind Calvin Walsh.
FT Dundalk 4 (Jenkinson 48, Rea 63, McEleney pen 78, pen 80) Cork City 1 (Knox 88) Att 4,500 (225 Away)
Quiet early doors in the rain. Not a single highlight until the 39th minute, when a long highlight ends in a McGarvey close-range volley being tipped over. Dominance but no goals. 0-0
‘Disappointed’ in the team talk. 1-0 Dundalk, 48th minute, Jenkinson with a daisy-cutter from inside the ‘D’. 63rd minute 2-0, another banger from Rea, defender Moore holding the ball up and getting a pass off to Rea after a corner, Rea scoring from 18 yards. Dan Kelly on for Duffy. 75, McEleney on for McShane. 77th minute, Penalty Dundalk, McEleney tripped by Conor Barry. He takes the penalty himself… 3-0, beautifully placed bottom left, sending the Keeper the wrong way. 79th minute, another one, McGarvey this time, again a dodgy challenge by Conor Barry… McEleney steps up… Opposite corner, same result. 4-0, 2 pens in 2 minutes. Last sub, White for Corrigan. For the second league game we concede a consolation, Knox at the back post from a O’Halloran cross. 4-1. That’s how it finished. Don’t think I’ve managed a team that is so good compared to the rest of the teams in their league before.
Will need to make sure we take points off of St. Pat’s every time we play them I think. Newly promoted Longford (8th) next up in 4 days.
Ray, Ryan, Patrick & Glen in the IPD team of the Week, along with 7 Derry players.
I checked – this potentially could be Patrick McEleney’s first International cap, aged 30 🙂 Youngster Harry Durham has also been called up to the U.S.A U19’s.
The Semi Final Draw has happened for the Leinster Senior Cup.
A Shamrock/Dundalk final on the cards…
17th March 2023 – Longford (H) – Irish Premier Division
We welcome newly promoted Longford to Oriel Park this Friday evening in the last game before the International break. Longford are in 8th, their 4 points coming from an opening-day win against Cobh and a draw versus Shelbourne. Anything but 3 points will be a big shock.
Going 4-1-4-1 DM Wide, with Connolly & McEleney the wingers. Otherwise unchanged. Longford are using a Cautious 3-1-4-2 DM – we’ll go for the overload out wide.
FT Dundalk 4 (McEleney 9, 16, Connolly 19, McGarvey 90+3) Longford 0 Att 3,173 (126 Away)
A dry evening to play football – quite the treat! And 9 minutes in its a superb goal from McEleney – a nice cross from Corrigan and an absolute banger on the half-volley from 12 yards or so across Steacy in the Longford net. Looks like he’s thriving off the back of his International call-up. 2-0 in the 16th, an almost identical goal except for it was a volleyed finish by McEleney rather than on the half. Beautiful play yet again, Corrigan fed on the overlap by Connolly popped the ball over on a plate 🙂 3-0 in the 19th, Connolly getting a lovely ball over by Jenkinson, an attempted cross comes straight back to him and he strolls into the Longford area and shoots across Steacy for his 1st goal for the club 🙂 Game killed off in the first 20. McEleney close to his hat-trick, the wide players are in acres of space. A bit quieter as we head towards the end of the half, we go in 3-0 up.
All quiet up until the 60th – moved Holloway into Centre Mid on CM(D). Benson on for Rea as a DLP(S). White for Corrigan just before 75. Kelly on for Connolly with 5 left, 4-3-3 Wide. All quiet until injury time, when McGarvey gets his reward for his hard work as a PF(A), heading home a lovely cross from Dan Kelly. 4-0 Dundalk at Full Time.
Waterford succumb to a strong Shamrock performance and St. Pat’s sneak past Shelbourne. It’s 2 weeks now until the last day of the month, when I have an emotional return to Cobh.
Our U19’s beat Finn Harps U19’s 4-1, goals from 18yo CM Ger Ryan and a hat-trick from 17yo STC Tommy Carlin.
Just the 7 players in the IPD Team of the Week 🙂
In the first round of international matches Harry Durham score 2 in USA U19’s 3-0 win over Guatemala and Ray Moore got an 8 as Ireland U21 dispatched Croatia 4-0. Brian Stapleton got 2 assists in Ireland U19’s 2-1 win over Scotland.
In the second round of International matches Colin McGarvey scored a brace versus Greece as N.Ireland U21’s won 3-0, Ray Moore scored in Ireland U21’s 4-1 win over Slovakia and Brian Stapleton got another assist in Ireland U19’s 4-1 defeat versus Switzerland.
Our U19’s beat Bohemians U19’s 1-0, Tommy Carlin with another goal.
Brain Stapleton & Dan Cross also played in Ireland u19’s 2-1 loss to Iceland, Dan Cross unfortunately getting broken ribs (6/9 Weeks).
31st March 2023 – Cobh Ramblers (A) – Irish Premier Division
We make the journey south to bottom-placed Cobh for the last game of the month looking for another win and strong performance. We know what these games can be like though, what with FM being FM and all that.
Connolly starts on the left wing with right-footed Duffy on the right. Holloway and Rea swap, with Holloway as a Carillero. Jenkinson going to AP(A) from DLP(S), O’Shea in for Moore who is back from international duty (He & McEleney will feature on Monday versus Derry). Cobh go 4-4-2 Defensive.
FT Cobh Ramblers 2 (Hoban 80, Duffy 90+4) Dundalk 0 Att 388 (133 Away)
Duffy hits the post within 50 seconds – He has 11 finishing/ 13 composure but seems to be so bad at it. Dundalk on top but Cobh defending well in the first 20, Tom Higgins keeping them in it. iWe are swarming them but it’s still 0-0 as we approach half-time. And that’s how we go in.
McShane on for Connolly as we go 4-3-3 Wide for the second half, Duffy out on the righ as an IF(A). Rea & Holloway swap back. 60 minutes arrives – Holloway off, McEleney on as a Number 10. Higgins has made 11 saves so far – 7.2… Hoban on for McGarvey for the last 15. Genius 🙂 1-0, 8th minute, Hoban in the right place to tap in a volley on the edge of the 6 yard box from a low Corrigan cross. Phew! But we still may be FM’d! In injury time Gannon picked up a bruised knee – all subs made so he’ll have to tough out the last few minutes. And we get our 2nd in the 4th minute of injury time, Duffy finishing off a McShane cross at the far post. His first of the season! 2-0 it finished.
We go top as Shamrock beat St. Pat’s at theirs, and Waterford slip further losing to Derry, who we play next on 3rd April.
Sean Gannon will be out for a few days with his bruised knee, will most probably keep him out of the Derry game.
And with that March 2023 comes to an end. We’re very strong now as we hit our straps – just the very creditable 2-1 loss to Nice at the start of the month blotting our copybook.
3 tough league games (Derry, St. Pat’s and Shamrock) but all at home, and a bit of cup escapism. Can’t see why we shouldn’t win all 6 TBH. I’ll leave you with the key Highlights from the month. See you soon.