European knockouts? – PearceyPlays #FM20 OS6 C2 S2 – Part 58 – Dundalk – Nov/Dec 2024

UCL, Europa League or nothing?

Welcome back to Co. Louth for an important end to my 6th season of management, my 2nd with Dundalk. There’s potential for a bit of European knockout football coming up, especially if we beat/don’t lose to Gent on the 6th November.

Beating Gent will allow us to have a good go at Ajax and Bayern in the final two games, with the potential of a UCL knockout place there (Remote but it is there). If I was a betting man I’d say we finish 3rd and go into the Europa knockouts (Possibly seeded).

Start of month stuff coming up.

An interesting bug – The news report says Longford are safe. They really aren’t, just one point ahead of Sligo with them playing today (v Cork City)…

Jamie McGrath came 3rd in the player of the month for the IPD for October.

I get Manager of the Month again (6 out of 8 months).

Sligo will be in the Relegation Playoff. They will be playing on of Bohemians, Shelbourne or U.C.D. as our affiliate Limerick get promoted. Bohemians only picked up 2 points out of the last 9, Limerick all 9… Limerick champions by 1 goal! Expecting Sligo to be too strong over 2 legs than any of those 3 teams, but stranger things have happened.

Finn Harps finish their league campaign with 12 points (The lowest total in the IPD in these last 6 seasons). Derry secure European football with their 4th place finish. Just our game versus Waterford left in this IPD season.

3rd November 2024 – St. Pat’s Athletic (N – The Aviva, Dublin) – FAI Cup Final

FT – Dundalk x (McGarvey 16, 52, 90, Collins 25) St. Pat’s Athletic x Att 13,181 (9,400 Dundalk, 3,781 St. Pat’s)

First plays Second today in what could be a tough game. We did beath them 4-0 in mid October, but I don’t think that counts for much. St. Pat’s looking useful early on but we take the lead in the 16th minute, another Colin McGarvey header, beautifully directed into the bottom left hand corner from a Corrigan cross. His 34th of the season. It’s 2-0 in the 25th minute – a lovely break by Steven O’Malley, stretching his legs and crossing for Tommy Collins to finish from close range, after a period of St. Pat’s pressure. Harsh on them. If anything St. Pat’s had the better half, but we go in 2-0 to the good. I reminded the lads to keep focussed at half time, and we get the 3rd in the 52nd minute, a fine placed shot by Colin McGarvey from just outside the area. Kick-Off highlight. Nothing from it. The game ticks doen but McGarvey makes it a hat-trick and 4-0 overall with a lovely header from an O’Malley corner in the last minute of normal time. He’s on fire. It finished 4-0, FAI Cup champions yet again 🙂 £100k for the win. £78k paid out in bonuses.

2024 FAI Cup final winners – Dundalk

OK – The board has come back to me and said we can have more staff!! Another coach for the 1st team and U19’s, and scout also!

Three of the lads made the final IPD Team of the Week of the season.

Some good Tuesday games in the UCL – Liverpool’s 5-3 versus Zenit the pick.

Paul Wotton joins as a coach (47, ex-Plymouth Argyle and manager of Truro) – Very good mentals and 17 defending.

Northern Irish players called up for the November Internationals.

And before we play Gent Ajax have beaten Bayern 1-0, meaning if we win tonight we go 2nd!

6th November 2024 – KAA Gent (H – Tallaght Stadium) – UCL Group H Match Day 4

Since we beat Gent in Belgium they have played 2 league games, won 1 drawn 1 and still sit 3rd in The Jupiler League. Let’s seize the initiative and guarantee European knockout football early in 2025.

FT Dundalk 2 (McGarvey 19, 61) KAA Gent 2 (Idrissi 65, Murgia 84) Att 8,000 (822 Away)

We are without Freddy Barton and Steven O’Malley this evening due to suspensions for Yellows, so Williams and Duffy are our right side. Not so bad. Josh Taylor is in a poor run of form so Russell Watts step up as BBM. Gent start with a cautious 5-4-1… Very quiet early on, but we take the lead in the 19th minute, and it’s big-match McGarvey at it again, a nice header from a Jordan Kelly cross. Legend. His 37th of the season, and 14th in the UCL. They will have to come out and play now I think. Dundalk on top. Then Fuck – Duffy has picked up a bad ankle, and Neco Williams gets a straight red injury (Foot) – Our ‘2nd string’ right side gone. Going, 3-1-4-2, Seddon coming off, Ray Moore on, 3CB’s, and Joe Holloway in as a DM. 2 subs, 33 gone… We take them in half-time 1-0 to the good. And he does it again, another header from McGarvey, this time from a floated Duffy cross! Horvath should maybe have done better in the Gent net. Kick-off highlight… Gent play the ball around for a minute and miss the shot. gent get a goal back in the 65th, Idrissi, heading a Rongier free kick home, with a large portion of Ray Moore getting in the way of Conor O’Malley. Hanging on a bit I think. Jordan should have made it 3 in the 76th minute, taking it too close to the keeper after a wonderful ball over the top by McGarvey. Bollocks, 2-2. another goal from a set piece, Murgia flicking a header in from a Rongier free kick. That’s it. 2-2, a real shame but we were really hamstrung by those 2 injuries. qualification for at least the Europa is still in our hands though. And another £775k in the pot 🙂

No shocks of note.

Gent need 2 wins (Results between teams means 4 points wouldn’t be enough) versus Bayern & Ajax… Think we’re going to be in the Europa. If we could somehow get 2nd though, £8.18M just for playing in that 1st Knockout round!!! £430k for the same in the Europa League.

Williams out for a month with sprained ankle ligaments… Bollocks.

We have picked up a Norwegian scout, Terje Andersen (56, Was chief scout of Preston in his last role) and U19’s coach Kevin Smith (37, ex-East Fife player/coach)

We play Linfield next in the Irish Champions Cup 1st leg. They are currently only 6th in The Danske Bank Premiership, 17 points behind Larne in 1st after 14 games. Quite a fall from grace for a team that won the title last season by 17 points. And our scouts don’t rate them very highly…

Our U19’s lost 1-0 to Gent in the UCL U19’s.

Conor O’Malley & Michael Duffy have been called up by Ireland for their November games.

9th November 2024 – Linfield (H) – Irish Champions Cup Final 1st Leg

FT Dundalk 0 Linfield 0 Att 4,500(300 Away)

As mentioned above Linfield have had a poor season for a title holder so far – 6th, 17 points back of 1st and just 7 points above the relegation places. A good, open start, Linfield defending doggedly. We seem to be taking too many touches. Fully on top but 0-0 at the break. The Linfield Keeper has been keeping them in it as well. Another day this would have been 5-0, but somehow it’s finished 0-0. All to play for in Belfast. 14 shots saved by McKee for Linfield. Main issue is we have 7 players off on international duty…

12th November 2024 – Linfield (A) – Irish Champions Cup Final 2nd Leg

Windsor Park, Belfast. Capacity 18,614

We make the short journey north to Belfast and the National Stadium, Windsor Park to play a tough Linfield side. I attempted to exploit the flanks last time out as they were playing wingbacks, so this time I’ll come back inside a bit I think.

FT Linfield 0 Dundalk 3 (Connolly 58, Rubarth 76, Kelly 90) Att 5,015 (1,247 Away) Dundalk Wins 3-0 on Aggregate

My Northern Irish internationals are all away so Kelly & Rubarth are playing up top. More of the same, Linfield difficult to break down. They are showing more attacking intent today though. We’ve had the ball in the net, Ngoy marginally offside. 0-0 at the break. We end up breaking the deadlock, 148th minute of the tie, 58th of the game, Brian Connolly with a smart finish after Watts header was deflected into his path. Messy but we will take it. Cammy MacPherson missed the header for Linfield – he was a Berwick Rangers stalwart in my FM19 save. Alex Rubarth scores well from the edge of the area to make it 2-0 in the 76th minute, a lovely finish past the dive of Scott in the Linfield net. And Jordan Kelly gets his 31st of the season with a nice near-post header from a Barton cross from the byline. Game over. Took a while to break them down but the dam ended up bursting. It finishes 3-0. £43k for the win.

2024 Irish Champions Cup Winners – Dundalk

Really its a sextuple with the Leinster Cup as well. Also it’s the 5th time we’ve won this in a row. Also i’m 4th now in the Ireland hall of fame – 2 League Titles and 8 domestic cups 🙂

Tommy Carlin & Aidan Hamilton played in N. Ireland U21’s 1-1 draw with The Netherlands.

And we had 5 players in the N. Ireland senior squad getting minutes in their 1-0 loss to Mexico – Tommy Collins, Stevie Moore, Barry Reilly, Chris McCabe & Colin McGarvey. That was Chris McCabe’s 1st senior cap.

Tommy Carlin has had another game for N. Ireland U21’s, scoring the winner in their 1-0 away win over Romania; one of the Euro U21 Qualifying play-off 1st legs.

16th November 2024 – Waterford (H) – Irish Premier Division

FT Dundalk 4 (Connolly 11, Kelly 19, 26, 64) Waterford 0 Att 4,392 (117 Away)

Match Day 36, our final league game of the season sees us entertain a Waterford side who are 2 points better off than what they ended with last season. They’ve also leap-frogged a Cork City side who should be much higher up the table. Steven O’Malley is away with the Ireland senior squad so Evan O’Donovan comes in. Jordan Kelly should have had one early on, shooting wide from a one-on-one. Brian Connolly makes it 1-0 in the 11th minute, a mazy dribble in from wide on the left, skipping challenges and finishing well. Jordan Kelly makes it with a powerful header from a Watts corner, thundering in off the underside of the bar. And he makes it 3 with his 33rd of the season, skipping past Griffin on the half way line, finishing well after great work by Jenks, who won the ball back wide on the right. GD currently +100 🙂 Barry O’Leary hits the post for Waterford (May very well be buying him, 2.5*CA, 4.5*PA 20yo STC (TM)). 3-0 at HT, Jordan Kelly could have had 5 himself by now. He does get his hat-trick in the 64th minute – the first weird one I’ve had where the oppo GK hits the ball straight at somebody from hands, the ball ricochets straight to Jordan for goal 34 of his season. It ends 4-0, another League season done and dusted. £314k for the League win.

The final full table. Only 15 goals conceded in 36 games. Will try to beat that in 2025 🙂

Tommy Collins & Barry Reilly played in N. Ireland’s 2-1 loss to the Ukraine.

And Michael Duffy played in Ireland’s 2-0 loss to France – somehow getting a 5.6 (I can’t see any missed penalties so I can only imagine its his 10 mistakes that caused it…

U19 GK Barry Reilly is out for 5/6 weeks with an abdominal strain.

Tommy Carlin and Aidan Hamilton played in . N. Ireland U21’s 1-0 win versus Romaina in the 2nd leg of their playoff, so they will be at the Euro U21’s next summer.

Our U19’s lost 4-0 to Ajax.

And Stevie Moore, Barry Reilly (STC) and Colin McGarvey played in N. Ireland’s 3-0 loss to Greece.

So just the Ajax and Bayern games left this year. If (And I think we will) get Europa League knockout football I will most probably be without Nathan Ngoy, Zech medley and Jenks, unless I can either buy them in January or get them back again for another season. Not hopeful on either count (Jenks is worth £3M, Nathan £240k and Zech £425k, but they are contracted with their clubs until 2029, 2028 and 2026 respectively…) Let’s try…

3rd placed SHelbourne have gotten through to the playoff versus Sligo. They beat U.C.D. 2-1 in the semi final (2-0 in the second leg, goals in the 75th and 78th minutes) then beat Bohemians in the final on pens after the tie ended 2-2 on aggregate AET. And they win the first leg versus Sligo 2-1 at home!!

Fuck yeah!! Jenks is now with us until the end of next season, at less money (£4.5k/wk – 10% of his wage!!!). He can be recalled though. Both Nathan and Zech will be given first team chances by the looks of it, so time for Mazeed Ogungbo to come back from his loan and break into the team, plus Ray & Stevie Moore to form a partnership.

Sligo get relegated as Shelbourne hang on in the Playoff Final 2nd leg!

And with that we start getting the end of season League awards etc. £275k will be paid out in bonuses to the squad.

Jordan Kelly’s Golden Boot 26 League goals is an IPD record, breaking Ciaran Kilduff’s 19 in 2021 for Waterford. Ethon Varion for Sty. Pat’s was 2nd with 18 goals, Barry O’Leary 3rd for Waterford with 17.

Michael Duffy’s 17 assists is also a record, up from 13 (Our own Brian Connolly, 13 in 2022 for St Pat’s)

A 1-2-3 for Dundalk as Jenks gets IPD Player of the Year (7.84 Av). The Young Palyer of the Year award was identical to the above. Conor O’Malley got Keeper of the Year, just 14 conceded in 33 games (6.82 Av…). he also won the weird Personality of the year (Jordan Kelly 2nd)

IPD Team of the Year. Conor, Ryan, Ray, Jenks, Jordan and Tommy in the team.

26th November 2024 – Ajax (A) – UCL Group H Matchday 5

Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam, Capacity 54,990 (Normal Matches)

We make the short journey to Amsterdam to play an Ajax side that has beaten Bayern twice and are unbeaten this season – We are 1 of only 3 teams to draw with them! They drew with N.E.C. last time out, but I’m not expecting anything at all this evening.

FT Ajax 5 (Oderlend 21, 33, 84 Ziyech pen 25, 53) Dundalk 0 Att 52,395 (154 Away)

A decent start from the lads, though there always seems to be a much bigger chance of an error against the bigger teams. Big team set-piece bias leads to the first goal, a header from a deep free kick by Oderlend. And 5 minutes later a penalty for a push against Zech Medley… Very soft. Ziyech tucks the penalty away. And it’s 3-0 in the 33rd minute, Oderlund getting free and tucking away a cross. This is pretty poor. Riot act read at half time. Ziyech makes it 4 in the 53rd minute with a tap-in. Oderlund gets his hat-trick after a terrible cross field ball by Jenks – The team has just crumbled mentally. Thank Fuck that’s finished. 5-0 Ajax. Home & Away makes so much more difference at this level.

I’m pretty sure we will be in the Europa League Knockouts as Gent lost 4-0 to Bayern. Chelsea looking good again this season, with a 5-2 win versus Real. Plus PSG and Real Sociedad play out a crazy 4-4 draw. Lastly a good win for Benfica versus Milan. Last group game in 13 days, versus Bayern at Tallaght Stadium in a dead rubber.

A really good point for Slovan Bratislava in Leipzig the only standout result from the Wednesday matches.

Nathan Ngoy is out of the Bayern match after twisting his Ankle in training. He’s most probably played his last game for Dundalk.

December rolls around. A quieter month end with the league done.

Our U19’s lost 4-1 to Bayern, Alan Brady with the goal.

The last match day in groups A-D done. Liverpool suffering a 3-0 loss to Atletico Madrid, though Liverpool had already won the group. Porto surprisingly into the Europa league with Club Brugge progressing in Group B.

Our 22yo centre/right back Sean Sheehan has gone to Limerick for next season on loan.

11th December 2024 – Bayern (H – Tallaght Stadium) – UCL Group H Matchday 6

FT Dundalk 1 (Duffy 68) Bayern 0 Att 8,000 (4,000 Away)

Bayern are in a good run – 5 wins in a row since last losing to Ajax. They are top of the Bundesliga. But we are at home, and that does seem to make a difference. And we start well, with a few highlights. And as we approach half-time we’ve had the better of the changes, Steve Seddon making a mazy run and somehow the ball doesn’t find its way into the net. Serge Gnabry was injured during the move. 0-0 at the break. Oh how I wish Tommy Collins could header straight (11 Heading) – At 6ft 8in he wins everything, by Colin McGarvey scores loads more with his head. And he has a one-on-one saved soon after – a good start to the half. Bayern only really threatening on the break. Duffy also has a shot saved as we head towards the final 20. But a couple of minutes later he does score, 1-0 Dundalk, a nice finish after a bungled clearance from Bayern, assist from Steven O’Malley (25th of the season). Would be lovely to get another £2.3M (And another coefficient point for Ireland). Five minutes of injury time… !min 20 left, O’Malley makes a superb save. Corner. But it turns into a Dundalk break, which Duffy nearly finishes. The game ends 1-0 Dundalk. Superb lads!

Gent also beat Ajax! Again neither Ajax nor Bayern needed anything from the games, but £2.3M is still £2.3M!

We also got £382k in unallocated prize money (Draws). Best part of £2.7M right there 🙂

I’ll take that – Over £6M in prize money from the games in the group.

Season done.

Apart from the disappointing performance versus Ajax that was a great end to the season – League, FAI Cup and Irish Champions Cup all won plus 8 points in the UCL Group and an (expected) Europa league Knockout place (I think as a seed). Time to look forward.

Next time we will go through the Post Season 2024/Pre-Season 2025. See you then.

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