Mixing it with the Big Boys – PearceyPlays #FM20 OS5 C2 S1 – Part 46 – Dundalk – September 2023

Welcome back. We are September 2023. Still in the FAI Cup, League Cup (Final versus Cobh mid-month), Champions League (Group D!!!) and 10 games left in the League, currently top by 6 points with a game in hand. 39 games unbeaten, everything is pretty sweet 🙂

Last month was a madness but we have an imposed 13-day international break after the FAI Cup 2nd Round game versus Bray Wanderers (Though I do have 13 players called up for internationals as well…) – Those not involved will be sent on a week’s hols!!! Injuries were mounting up through wear and tear – we have already played 46 competitive games this season, and have at least 20 left, potentially 23 if we get to the FAI Cup Final – a 69 game season!!!! And we have a chance at some Silverware versus Cobh as well in the League Cup Final!!

The usual start of month malarkey first before we welcome Bray for the FAI Cup 2nd Round on the 2nd.

Isn’t that a thing of beauty!!! Still on an A- with the board 🙂 🙂 🙂 Dynamics are Good/Excellent/Excellent

First 5 results of the 8 in the FAI Cup 2nd Round – Sligo beating Derry City the pick.

Interesting Group in the Conference League for Shamrock – CSKA Moscow, Ludogorets (BUL) and Villareal…

2nd September 2023 – Bray Wanderers (H) – FAI Cup 2nd Round

We welcome Bray (8th in the 1st Division) to Oriel Park this afternoon for our last game before the international break, and as such we are fielding a pretty strong side.

Collins & Kelly (The reason why Ireland needs to unify – so they can start together up top in an International) loving life & keeping McGarvey out of the soide. Rea gets a start as BBM, Laera partners Ngoy for the first time (Our best central defence by CA), Sheehan at right back in both Gannon & McCabe’s absence. Bray are going 4-4-2 defensive, pretty much Phil Gannon & Jake Ellis the only names I remember from my time at Cobh.

FT Dundalk 5 (McGrath 31, Collins 39, Jordan Kelly 50, 75, Holloway 86) Bray Wanderers (Roche 90+3) 1 Att 2,298 (93 Away)

Quietish start – always tough when a team is sitting back against you. It takes until the 31st minute to take the lead – Jamie McGrath playing with left-back Fletcher like a Cat with a Mouse before striding through and scoring from 10 yards. Kickoff highlight…McGrath just wide with his shot. And McGrath sets up the second. A lovely ball from Sheehan sets McGrath off, and his final ball sets Collins up to header powerfully in from just outside the 6 yard box. 2-0 Dundalk., 39th minute. Lovely play from the lads. 2-0 at the break.

Massively long highlight in the 50th minute, Bray have already had 2 shots saved! O’Malley releases early to Connolly, first cross gets intercepted, ball works its way back to him, and his next cross, quite low, somehow gets to Jordan Kelly, who finishes beautifully. 3-0 Dundalk. And Kelly’s 50th goal for Dundalk (21yo). If Collins was a beater header of the ball he’d be a Braut-Haaland!! Collins & McGrath off for youngsters Brady & Hanratty. Beautiful play for the 4th – intricate passing leading to a 1-2 between Kelly & TM Brady, Kelly receiving the ball back to tap in. Gorgeous pass-and-move football. Holloway for Rea for the last 10. Brady has the ball in the net, but was offside. 5-0 in the 86th, Holloway with the side-foot finish after good work from Connolly & Kelly. Bray score with pretty much the last kick of the game from Roche after a nice move. 5-1 it finishes. Off on your break lads 🙂

Cork & Cobh also win as expected. £23k in the pot.

Fucks sake – Another right-back injured, and this is a bad one. His contract is up at the end of the year, so he’s played his last game for Dundalk 🙁

And that occurred in a 4-0 U19’s win over Manulla – goals from Brian Stapleton, Mark Hanratty, Anthony Forde & Sinclair Armstrong.

We’ve had the FAI Cup Quarter Final Draw.

Cork away – a tough one. October now has 9 matches as the QF will be our next game – 16th September – 3 days before Porto in the UCL. The Shamrock game is now Friday 13th October. And we have a period of 4 games in a week now next month (23rd, 25th, 27th, 30th – St. Pat’s, Man U, Cobh, Derry)…

We’ve had 2 of the U19’s (DR Karl Harmon & MR Martin Kenny) play in Ireland U19’s 3-1 win over Russia, Harmon with a goal, and Tommy Carlin played 9 minutes of Northern Ireland U19’s 2-0 win of Czechia U19’s. The Day after Ray Moore played 10 minutes, Joe Holloway 17 & Colm McShane 73 in Ireland U21’s 2-0 win over Israel. Augusto Laera played all 90 in Italy U20’s 1-0 loss to Germany.

And our U19’s beat Drumcondra 8-1, goals from Chris Shields, Anthony Forder, Dan Cross, 2 from Sinclair Armstrong & a hat-trick from Brian Stapleton.

Martin Kenny played 66 minutes in Ireland U19’s 2-0 loss versus The Netherlands and Colin McGarvey played 38 minutes in Northern Ireland’s 4-0 defeat by Belgium.

Ray Moore got an 8.6 for his 80 minutes in Ireland U21’s 9-0 win over Georgia. Colm McShane (7.1) & Joe Holloway (8.8) also played – 45 & 67 minutes respectively. Laera played all 90 in Italy U20’s 1-0 loss versus The Netherlands, Chris McCabe played 77 minutes in Northern Ireland U21’s 3-1 loss versus Germany, and Colin McGarvey (53) and Tommy Collins (37) player in Northern Ireland’s 3-0 loss versus Kazakhstan – That was Collins’ senior debut 🙂

16th September 2023 – Cork City (A) – FAI Cup Quarter Final

We make the journey to Turner’s Cross knowing we have our first Champions League Group Stage game in the club’s history in 3 days time. As such it will be a strong side, but not first choice. Cork have only lost once since we beat them on 1st May (3-0 to St. Pat’s last month) and with Cobh Ramblers are through to the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers 4th Round (They play Alloa, Cobh play Ayr). I can see this being a tough one.

McGarvey starts up top with Jordan Kelly, Hanratty gets time on the left wing, Davenport at left back, otherwise a pretty strong team. Cork City go with a Cautious 4-4-1-1.

FT Cork City x (O’Halloran 4, Stokes 81) Dundalk x (Jordan Kelly 87, 90+5) Att 2,868 (109 Away)

Cork City kick off at Turner’s Cross this afternoon, and go 1-0 up in the 4th minute – a speculative cross avoiding everyone, O’Halloran sneaks the ball in at the far post. Poor. And they have the ball in the net not long after, but Stokes was well offside. And that’s that for highlights. Really poor. 1-0 down at the break.

Davenport off, McCabe over and Cunningham in at right back. Cork very much in charge. Hanratty off for Dan Kelly on 60. 4-4-1-1, McGarvey just off of Kelly as a Shadow Striker. 4-2-3-1 for the last 20, Jenks on for Benson. 2-0 81st minute, direct free-kick from Stokes… Maybe the break has really affected them, because this is really bad. 87, Very Attacking, 2-1, Jordan Kelly after good work from McGarvey. Any chance?? Kickoff Highlight… Nearly, Jordan kelly’s shot saved. Lots of highlights. Last highlight, 30 seconds over. McCabe on the left, to McGarvey, who gets a cross in… surely not… 2-2!!!! Jordan Kelly with a wonderful finish!!! A Fergie-Time equaliser 🙂 2-2 it finished, we go to a replay (Just what we don’t want!!)

Look at this shit-show – From Friday 20th October to Monday 13th November we will have 10 games in 24 days… We also now have a Cobh/Cork/Cork/Cobh stretch of 4 games in 8 days at the end of this month/start of October. At least we have Shamrock in the League in a relatively calm period of just 3 games in 13 days. FC Porto up in 3 days.

The other 3 Quarters went as expected.

We’ve had our first Porto Scout report – interestingly they are in a non-playable league – they look better than Salzburg but not by much…

The FAI Cup Semi Final Draw has happened.

The hardest draw left again – Waterford, if we can get past Cork.

Shamrock only 3 points behind now – but we do have 2 games in hand.

And this is a biggie…

Our U19’s beat Porto U19’s 3-1 in the UCL Youth Group!! Goals from Tommy Carlin & a brace from Martin Kenny!!! Good signs for the future!

19th September 2023 – FCP (POR) (H-Tallaght Stadium) – UCL Group D

We welcome FC Porto to Dublin this evening for Dundalk’s first European match at this level in the clubs history. Roma are at Old Trafford in the other game in our group.

Early games done – Lyon & Benfica coming out on top. And we get to game time.

Going with the formation from the 2nd half of the Salzburg game that ground out the 2-1 – Collins up top on his own, Usual midfield with Holloway in his preferred DM role. Corrigan is suspended for yellows so McCabe playing at left back again, and we welcome Gannon back at right back. Porto going Positive 4-2-3-1 Wide.

FT Dundalk x FCP x (Lyanco 11, Silva 22) Att 7,197 (3,182 Away)

Porto kick off in their Yellow away strip. We last 11 minutes, Lyanco flicking a deep free-kick in off the crossbar. 1-0 Porto. Big moment in the 21st minute though, Porto down to 10 men! Luis Diaz scything down Gannon. But almost straight away it’s 2-0, Fabio Silva with a tap-in. We don’t look too bad going forward, but it’s 2-0 Porto at the break.

Should have been 2-1 in the first 30 seconds, a lovely Dundalk move, Collins’ shot saved from 3 yards… 60 minutes, going 4-4-2, Jordan Kelly on for Taylor, Holloway up to Central Midfield as a CM(D). 70, Dan Kelly on for Connolly, IW(A). Last 10, McGarvey on as a winger for McGrath. 2-0 it finished.

Man U win 4-0 versus Roma in the other game in the group. Big wins for Barcelona, Real Madrid & Sporting CP! Actually thinking of fielding weaker teams in the UCL – we’re not qualifying but we need to make sure we win our league so we can qualify again next year and get that £13M!!!

League Cup Final next up on Saturday versus Cobh, going to definitely put a first team out for that.

Another massive point for the Ramblers – now 7 points above Longford with 8 games left.

Big wins for Schalke & Arsenal.

Injuries becoming a real problem:

Robbie Benson – Gashed Lower Leg – 8 days – 2 Weeks

Ryan Corrigan – Pulled Groin – 5-9 Days

Training dialled back intensity-wise (Not that it was that intense to begin with).

Big wins for Longford & Waterford, Shelbourne now look like they should be going down.

23rd September 2023 – Cobh Ramblers (N – Actually Oriel Park) – League Cup Final

The League of Ireland Cup (EA Sports Cup)

We face Cobh Ramblers today in Ireland’s secondary domestic cup competition. It’s at Oriel Park, so a bit of an advantage.

First team less Duffy (Who’s back in training), Taylor (Who’s being a bit of a twat, unhappy we didn’t strengthen in the transfer window and training like a dick as a result) & Corrigan. Cobh go with a Defensive 4-4-2.

FT Dundalk 5 (McGrath pen 16, Collins 25, Jordan Kelly 38, 43, Connolly 67) Cobh Ramblers 0 Att 4,500 (465 Away)

Good open start to the game. And we get a penalty (For what looked like a perfectly good tackle by Keaney on McGrath) in the 16th minute. McGrath takes it himself… and scores, almost through the Keeper. 1-0 Dundalk. Dundalk now in charge. 2-0 in the 25th, but only after an amazing double save by Higgins, keeping out Dan Kelly twice, but Tommy Collins was on hand to bust the net with an amazing volley from close in. 3-0 in the 38th, lovely defensive working leading to a Jenks through ball to Jordan Kelly, who does what he does, finishing the 1-on-1. Might be able to rest a few players here before the FAI Cup replay versus Cork… 4-0 in the 43rd, really simple, a lovely Rea through ball, Kelly on hand to do the same as 5 minutes ago. 4-0 at the break.

McCabe on for White (just back from injury) at Half Time. Rea hits the crossbar in the 53rd with a lovely curling effort. Connolly on for Dan Kelly on 60. McGarvey for Collins with 25 left. but not before possibly the most audacious goal I’ve seen on FM!! Connolly with a scissor kick from a Gannon ball from all of 25yards, out towards the left corner of the box. An absolute madness!! 5-0. Cobh have the ball in the net from Ayoola, but he was well offside. 5-0 it finished, just the 8 bookings for Cobh!!

League Cup Winners 2023 – Dundalk

£22k prize money, £19k paid out in bonuses 🙂

Youth Intake – 3 players, maybe.

Our U19’s get another good win, 8-2 versus Sligo, goals from David O’Callaghan, Dan Cross & a Double-Hat-Trick(!!!) from Tommy Carlin.


Andy Boyle – Bruised Ankle – 2-3 days

Joe Holloway – Sprained Ankle – 4-5 Weeks

Just getting absolutely hammered by the sheer number of games – need an even bigger squad.

Big result in the League – Shamrock still 3 points behind, we still have 3 games in hand… Just had a look and they drew against CSKA Moscow in their first Conference League group game – worth £55k to them!!

26th September 2023 – Cork City (H) – FAI Cup Quarter Final Replay

We welcome a Cork side who since the replay have lost twice, so we will be looking to make that 3 in a row with a stronger side than we put out in the first game.

McGarvey starts for Collins, McEleney for McGrath. rea had a superb game in the Cup Final so keeps his place. Cork go with their Cautious 4-4-1-1.

FT Dundalk 3 (McGarvey 33, 90+1, Connolly 51) Cork City 0 Att 4,500 (225 Away)

The Cork central-defenders both looking a bit tired as we start the match. Not much of note in the first half-hour. But the deadlock is broken not long after – McGarvey with a cracking header from a McEleney corner. 1-0 Dundalk. Same at the break.

Taylor on for Rea at the break, Davenport for Jordan Kelly, 4-4-1-1, try to nullify their Number 10 Stokes. And it’s not long before it’s 2-0, Connolly finishing off after his forward movement and a tackle on McGarvey gives him a tap-in. Lovely play. 25 left, McCabe for Gannon. Killing the game now. And we make it 3 in injury time, McGarvey again with a lovely back-post header from a Jenks free kick. Professional 2nd half. 3-0 it finishes, we’re into the Semi Final versus Waterford.

£30k in the kitty for that one. Semi-Final 8th October. October is now a 10-game month…

Longford drag Cobh back into the fight for 9th with a 2-0 win. 1 point in it, 6 games left. We have a league game in 3 days, our first in over a month – Cork & Turner’s cross before Cobh just 48 hours later – think we will stay down there 🙂 There are some nice hotels 🙂

Just the 2 Youth Candidates worth signing…

29th September 2023 – Cork City (A) – Irish Premier Division

Our first League game in 5 weeks today, and our last of September as we travel to Cork.

4-1-4-1 worked really well in the 2nd half in the Cup so we go with that. Tommy Collins up top today, Duffy back for at least a half on the left, McEleney as the DLP, Corrigan back at left back. Laera & O’Shea partner at the back. Cork keeping with their 4-1-4-1 so we go man-for-man.

FT Cork City 0 Dundalk 0 Att 4,339 (157 Away)

FFS, Tommy Collins, pulled hamstring early on, this is brutal. McGarvey on. Very quiet game. McGarvey has the ball in the net in the 24th minute, but was offside on the run. 0-0 at the break.

60 Dan Kelly on for Duffy. 75, Davenport for Taylor. Having chances but no quality. Wow, that was shit. 0-0.

Just 1 point ahead of Shamrock now, but we do have 3 games in hand.

That’s it for games for the month – Really starting to struggle with the sheer volume of games played now.

Just the 10 games so far next month… Shamrock is the key game, we’ll definitely have the strongest team that I can put out for that one. Might even be a FAI Cup Final in there as well if we can see Waterford off.

Last bits before the end of the month.

The U19’s beat Derry 3-0, 2 goals from Youth Candidate Joe O’Brien (16yo STC) and 1 from another candidate, Nathan Grogan.

I leave you with the key Highlights from the month. See you soon.

Key Highlights – September 2023

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