Europa Quarters – PearceyPlays #FM20 OS7 C2 S3 – Part 62 – Dundalk – April 2025

In it to win it

Welcome back to Dundalk for Part 62 of my FM20 Journeyman. I’ve fallen in love with Dundalk – we are so much more than the sum of our parts and have got the chance to get to the Europa League Semi Finals if we can get past Roma over 2 legs. After Beating Bayer 04 6-1 on aggregate, as well as having wins over Bayern & KAA Gent this season (Plus draws against Gent and Ajax) we’re not scared of anyone that’s left in this draw – indeed we’ve beaten RB Salzburg over 2 legs 4-1 in 2023 to get to our first UCL Group Stage and we beat Man Utd 2-1 at Tallaght Stadium in the Group.

After a great start to the season we start the month with Waterford in the League and Non-League Crumlin in the league Cup before Roma come to Dublin for the 1st leg of the Quarters.

The usual monthly stuff to start.

Barry O’Leary is IPD Player of the Month for Waterford, and also gets goal of the month, a direct free kick from 30 yards versus Shamrock. Ger Ryan came 3rd for Limerick (Both Dundalk players)

We have £22M in the bank, The Board has me as a B+ (Apparently our 2-1 win over Bayer was only worth a B!!!!). Dynamics are Very Good/Excellent/Excellent.

Jim Collins & Sean Brennan played in Ireland U19’s 2-2 draw with Germany, with Jim scoring.

Colin McGarvey has twisted his knee – out for 5 days or so.

4th April 2025 – Waterford (A) – Irish Premier Division

FT Waterford 0 Dundalk 3 (Collins 20, 86, Duffy pen 23) Att 1,287 (233 Away)

Waterford are currently 4th and have won their last 3 games after not winning in 4 (Our 5-0 win against them the start of that streak). I wasn’t particularly happy about the performance versus Cork, it was very odd and maybe down to it being a game versus a club rival? We have a few first-teamers out but still should enough. And they can’t field Barry O’Leary against us either. A slowish start after the international break. We take the lead in the 20th minute – Tommy Collins with a wonderful finish (Chest Control and finish in one movement) for his 11th of the season after a worldie of a pass from Jenks. Within 2 minutes we get a penalty – Watts brought down by Hondermarck. Duffy steps up… 2-0. Left of centre and a good high to save but it goes in. Dundalk start to take control of the game. We go in 2-0 to the good. The second half is very quiet, nothing to report until Tommy Collins makes it 3-0 in the 86th minute – a tap-in after a lovely chipped cross by O’Malley. It finished 3-0.

Up to 2nd now, just Derry above us by 2pts. We have 3 games in hand. Cobh get a good win versus Shelbourne, Shamrock take the points at St. Pat’s. Non-Leaguers Crumlin next up in the League Cup 1st Round.

Our U19’s beat St. Pat’s 2-1 – goals from Alan Brady & Sean Brennan.

7th April 2025 – Crumlin Utd (A) – League Cup 1st Round

Pearse Park, Dublin, home of Crumlin Utd.

FT Crumlin Utd 0 Dundalk 3 (Rubarth 43, 75, McShane 48) Att 483 (133 Away)

A rotated side out this evening with Roma in 3 days. Crumlin nearly take the lead in the 3rd minute, a great save from Evan O’Donovan denying them. They are playing the ball around well. Struggling to get that 1st goal. It takes until 2 minutes before half time, Alex Rubarth with a decent shot that was behind him – he just about got enough on it. 1-0 at the break. Rocket given at half time. 2-0 in the 48th – McShane with a powerful header from an Astler cross. Crumlin down to 10 men for the last 20, Mukete with a 2nd yellow. Rubarth gets his 2nd in the 75th minute, a tap-in from a Connolly corner. It finished 3-0. £3k in the pot.

Shamrock beat Drogheda in the other game.

One IPD game – St. Pat’s with a stoppage time win over Waterford.

We have 4 players in the IPD team of the week – Nathan, Jenks, Steven & Tommy Collins.

UCL Quarters – Pretty tight.

More league cup results. Athlone with a good win over Limerick, Jim Collins scoring Limerick’s goal. Longford looking very sorry for themselves, losing 5-1 to Galway. U.C.D. put out Shelbourne.

Roma tomorrow. They’ve lost 4 of their last 6 games. We’re without Jenks & Russell Watts. It’s going to be an interesting one.

We’ve had the 2nd Round draw for the League Cup

We go to Donegal to play Finn Harps.

Two cracking Quarter Finals on the Wednesday – Barcelona winning El Classico and Liverpool coming out on top at the City of Manchester Stadium.

And so we are at match day – the biggest game in Dundalk’s history – The Europa League Quarter Final!

10th April 2025 – Roma (ITA) (H- Tallaght Stadium) – Europa League Quarter Final 1st Leg

FT Dundalk 3 (Duffy 37, O’Malley 70, Connolly 90+7) Roma 2 (Belotti 25, pen 31) Att 8,000 (440 Away)

We are a bit bare-bones this evening – Josh Taylor should really only be limited to 45 minutes as we are without Jenks & Watts to suspension. Plus the ability to only register 4 players prior to the First Knockout Round (At the start of our new season) has been a real pain. Roma have 32yo Philippe Coutinho as a playmaker. Hope Roma likes a good dose of Dublin rain, as its pouring down this evening. A quiet start. We maybe should have taken the lead in the 10th minute, O’Malley should have done better when clean-in on goal. Same in the 16th minute, this time Holloway. Dundalk on top in the first 20. O’Malley again, 23rd minute… Feel we will rue these chances going begging. And Roma take th elead in the 25th minute – Belotti in the right place at the right time to tap in from a free kick. And then in the 31st minute a really weak penalty is given away for pushing by Ray Moore. It’s not to be I feel. 2-0. Belotti. McGarvey should have scored soon after – 1-on-1. Bollocks. But we do make it 2-1 – Duffy with a fine header from a pacey O’Malley free kick. Kickoff highlight… Tommy Collins should have scored, but the highlight continues… Conor makes the save as Roma come all the way back up the pitch. 2-1 at the break. More chances at the start of the second half – not been at the races in front of goal tonight. But we make the domination pay – 2-2!!! O’Malley finishing off a gorgeous floated pass from Big-Game Duffy. Superb lads!! Let’s go for the win!! Both teams getting chances to win it. 6 minutes of stoppage time… AND ABSOLUTE SCENES!! 96:44 on the clock – Duffy lights the afterburners down the right wing (O’Malley off with a knock) and finds Connolly, who hits a peach of a volley past Gasparini in the Roma net. 3-2 Dundalk!!!! it’s all over, we get the win at home and take a 1-goal advantage to the Stadio Olimpico 🙂 What a comeback from 2-0 down, with a makeshift midfield as well!

Lille v Salzburg in the balance. Man Utd and Bournemouth favourites to go through.

We have a league game versus Limerick at the weekend before the return leg in Rome.

had a news story – Paulo Fonseca (Roma Manager) suggest we deserved the win 🙂

A low scoring Friday evening in the IPD – Jim Collins scoring for Limerick in their 1-1 draw versus Waterford, Ger Ryan with the assist, Shamrock nicking a win versus Shelbourne. Longford get their 2nd point of the season versus Cork. We should go top with 3 games in hand with a win versus Limerick in a few days.

Our U19’s beat Drumcondra in a friendly 7-0 = goals from Jamie McGrath, Brian Stapleton, a brace from Aidan Hamilton and a hat-trick from Tommy Carlin.

And we have a surprise new signing!

Jason Knight – 24yo Irish international Jason Knight (Derby IRL & in game) signs on a free after being released in February. 3.5* CA, a very solid player in a number of roles and at £2.2k/week not too expensive. He will bolster that centre-mid area. Welcome Jason.

14th April 2025 – Limerick F.C. (A) – Irish Premier Division

FT Limerick F.C. 1 (Curran 82) Dundalk 4 (Rubarth 19, Holloway 45+2, Kelly 57, Connolly 64) Att 1,629 (193 Away)

Limerick sit 7th, one of 3 teams on 9 points from 9 games. Four of their best players are Dundalkers, so they will always be short-handed when they play us. It’s a slow start today but we take the lead in the 19th minute, Alex Rubarth with a fine header from a Barton cross after Freddy skipped past 3 challenges. That’s Alex’s 5th of the season. We get the 2nd just before half time – a banger from Joe Holloway from range. 2-0 at the break. We get a penalty in the 54th minute – Stevie Moore pushed by Comerford. Alex Rubath steps up… A terrible penalty, right at the keeper. 3-0 in the 57th, Jordan Kelly with a great power header from a Connolly corner. 4-0, 64 minutes gone, This time Connolly with the goal from a Holloway deep free kick, O’Shaughnessy fumbles and Connolly taps in. Limerick score in the 82nd minute, MNick Curran with a header from a Wolfe free kick. It finishes 4-1.

Shamrock stay a point clear with their 1-0 win versus Cork.Shelbourne up into 5th, but 3 points separates them from Cobh in 9th.

Six players made it into the IPD team of the Week – Geoffrey Astler, Liam Morrison, Freddy Barton, Brian Connolly, Joe Holloway and Jordan Kelly.

Some crackers in the UCL Quarter Finals. Liverpool knock Man City out at Anfield and Real Madrid turn a 2-0 first leg deficit around to knock Barca out, Vinicius Junior’s 81st minute goal the key after Pogba got sent off for Barca.

A lot tighter on the Wednesday – Chelsea and Inter sneak though. Not a bad semi final line up!

And so, to Dundalk’s most important game of its history (again – twice in a week!) – Roma in the 2nd leg.

17th April 2023 – Roma (ITA) (A) – Europa League Quarter Final 2nd Leg

FT Roma 4 (Zaniolo 12, Belotti 57, Zappacosta 65, 68) Dundalk 1 (Gasparini o.g. 41) Att 49,912 (44 Away) – Roma wins 6-4 on Aggregate

Roma drew 0-0 with Milan at the weekend and sit 6th in Serie A – 2 wins out of the last 9 games, D1, L6. Perfect season for us so far, P15 W15. Again, if I were a betting man I’d think Roma should get through but the lads have confounded expectation time and time again. If anything we have a stronger side out this evening. But we are away. We know that can hurt us, but last time out we smashed Bayer. let’s do that again please 🙂 We’re in the black and grey hoops tonight, quite like that kit. Duffy with a chance in the 8th minute after ghosting the right back, but his shot was poor. Roma take the lead in the 12th minute, Zaniolo walking through and scoring. Against the run of play. We must score now. And we should have done, 31st minute, O’Malley in acres but straight at the keeper… Game on though, 41st minute, 1-1!!!!!!!!!! Down as a Gasparini O.G. but that’s harsh, it was a Duffy volley off the post that hit him as he was diving, hit the post again and trickled in. 4-3 Dundalk on aggregate. It was a great Freddy Barton cross to Duffy that set it up. 1-1 at the break. We’re definitely getting the chances to put this to bed. But it’s 2-1 Roma in the 57th minute, Belotti with a tap-in. COME ON LADS!!!!! And then disaster, 3-1 roma, 65th minute, Zappacosta cutting in on the right. 4-1 68th, same man – we’ve fallen apart 🙁 🙁 🙁 We need 2 goals. No highlights until almost the end. We lose 6-4 on aggregate, absolutely gutted. We had so many really good chances…

Lazio with a massive turnaround ve Bournemouth and Lille go through. If Roma get Lille I will be seriously fucked off.

OK – we can ignore Europe for a few months before we start the grind of UCL qualification. £1.3M into the bank, Finances now standing at £23M. Hopefully we will be getting another £23m for UCL qualification in August/September 🙂

We have 3 games left this month – Finn Harps in the League Cup 2nd Round and 2 IPD games – Limerick & Longford, both at home.

More IPD games in our absence. Cobh with a great win against a Cork side who are now 8th. Derry nick a win late versus Shelbourne, old-friend Bosun Lawal scoring for Shels and Matty Burrows for Derry. St. Pat’s continue their good start with a 3-0 versus Limerick and Waterford compound Longfor’d misery – Barry O’Leary on the scoresheet for Waterford.

Our U19’s beat Athlone 4-1, goals from Tim Foulkes, Richie O’Sullivan ( 17yo STC) and a brace from Tommy Coffey (17yo STC).

League cup games before ours on the Tuesday. St. Pat’s go out to Bray, Cork need 120 minutes to beat Wexford & Shamrock need penalties to dispatch Athlone.

22nd April 2025 – Finn Harps (A) – League Cup 2nd Round

FT Finn Harps 0 Dundalk 4 (Connolly 12, Stevie Moore pen 43, Carlin 71, 77) Att 380 (5 Away)

Finn Harps currently sit 3rd in the First Division after 10 of 27 games. We have a pretty good side out, and Jason Knight makes his debut. Brian Connolly opens the scoring with a smart finish after great hold-up play by Jordan Kelly. Plenty of possession, plenty of chances. Penalty, 43rd minute, Taylor bodychecked by Murphy during a free kick. Centre Back Stevie Moore steps up and bangs it in. 2-0, just before the break. We go in 2-0 to the good. 62nd minute, Harps down to 10, Grant with a straight Red for a hack at Connolly. A great goal for 3-0, Tommy Carlin finishing off a nice nice-post header from a Connolly cross after a whole-team move. He gets his 2nd for 4-0 6 minutes later, a tap -n after Watts’s curling free kick was parried by Donnelly in the Finn Harps net. A solid result, 4-0 it finishes. £3.4k for the win.

We’ve had the League Cup Quarter Final draw.

Cork at home. Always seems to be a tough game versus the Rebels. With the fixture rearrangement we now have Shamrock 3 times in the league in 13 days in June – just as all our U21 stars will be at the Euro U21’s…

25th April 2025 – Limerick F.C. (H) – Irish Premier Division

FT Dundalk 9 (Ngoy 15, McGarvey 21, Duffy 24, Collins 31, 37, 38, 53, Kelly 72, Connolly 80) Limerick F.C. 0 Att 3,624 (157 Away)

Our second league game versus Limerick in 11 days, they are currently in 9th on 9 points. A decent attacking start from the lads, we have a strong side out tonight. 15th minute, 1-0 Dundalk, Nathan Ngoy popping up with a header from an O’Malley free kick. McGarvey gets his 5th of the season in the 21st minute, a powerful header from a Corrigan cross. And Duffy hits a thunderbastard for the 3rd. 24th minute, 20 yards off the inside of the right upright. Penalty for 4-0 in the 28th minute, Duffy steps up…Great save by O’Shaughnessy down to his left. It is 4 in the 31st minute, Tommy Collins with his 13th of the season, a fine finish close in from a great Jenks through-ball. And it’s No. 14 of the season in the 37th minute, a near-post header from a Watts inswinging corner. Tommy is on fire 🙂 Kick-off highlight. 6-0, Collins completes a 7 minute hat-trick with a lofted shot over the Keeper, after great work by Duffy. 6-0 Dundalk at the break. Collins gets his 4th of the match in the 53rd minute, another good header from an O’Malley cross. Limerick down to 10 in the 68th minute – Waters with a second yellow. Jordan Kelly on for Big Col, 8-0, 72nd minute, Jordan with a toe poke at the near post from an O’Malley pass. 10 possible? Brian Connolly makes it 9-0 with 10 minutes left, a good finish across the keeper, assist from Jason Knight. No, just the 9 today, that’s how it finished.

Shamrock take all 3 points from Longford after being 2-1 down with 8 minutes left. St. Pat’s stay top after beating Cobh and Derry slip up against Waterford after they equalise in the 92nd minute. Matty Burrows with the goal for Derry. 4 games in hand on St. Pat’s, just 2 points back in 4th.

Just Longford left this month – will be looking for something similar against the team we beat 10-2 last season.

Apparently the 9-0 was our biggest ever win and is a new IPD record (9 clear goals – our 10-2 versus Longford 2 seasons ago was the previous champ)

Our U19’s beat Monaghan Cavan 6-0, goals from Darragh Walsh (19yo DC), Adam Kelly (17yo MC), Jamie Forde (16yo Winger) and a hat-trick from that man Tommy Carlin – 16 goals in 5 non-competitive matches! Unfortunately he turned his ankle in the game and will be out for 3 weeks.

28th April 2025 – Longford (H) – Irish Premier Division

FT Dundalk 3 (McGarvey 3, Seddon 53, Connolly 86) Longford 0 Att 3,078 (128 Away)

Longford arrive at Oriel Park with 2 points from 12 games. Get ready for a tricky one 🙂 🙂 🙂 1-0 Dundalk, 3rd minute, Big Col with a powerful header from a Steve Seddon cross, back from injury with an assist straight away :). Decent pressure, but they aren’t going in this evening. 1-0 at the break. Keeper Horgan is having a blinder, 11 saves so far. But we make it 2-0 in the 53rd minute, Steve Seddon marking his return with a wonderfully struck goal after a great into his path by Joe Holloway. Longfor have the ball in the net from a free kick, but 5 players were offside and interfering. Brian Connolly bangs in a volley for number 3 in the 86th minute – a great dink over to him from Big Colin. It finishes 3-0.

We go top with 4 games in hand as St. Pat’s, Shamrock & Derry all draw. Matty Burrows with another goal for Derry. Two Dundalkers on the scoresheet for Limerick v Cobh – Jim Collins & Ger Ryan. And Barry O’Leary gets a brace for Waterford in their win over Shelbourne. Two points separate 6th & 9th.

That’s it for the games this month. Apart from Roma it’s been a good one again.

A couple of cups in May and 7 league games as we try to catch up from the 6 fixture rearrangements caused by our Europa League journey. The two Derry games and St. Pat’s will be important for the season as a whole. And Shamrock in the Leinster Senior Cup Semi should be interesting. We have a few days left in the month, let’s see if anything that needs scribing happens.

We almost had a shutout in the IPD team of the week – 10 players in there 🙂

Real Madrid in control of the 1st UCL Semi, taking a 2 goal advantage to the San Sero next week.

Liverpool also take a 2 goal lead to the 2nd leg, but will Chelsea’s 2 away-goals come back to haunt them…

That’s that – Next time will be domestic football only for the first time this season. See you soon.

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