Balkan Bonanza – PearceyPlays #FM20 OS7 C2 S3 – Part 65 – Dundalk – July 2025

Trips to Bosnia & (Hopefully) Bulgaria this month – That’s if Buducnost don’t knock Ludogorets out…

Welcome back to the start of our 3rd European Campaign with Dundalk (Not counting the FCSB and OGC Nice games we had in the Conference League knockouts as I wasn’t involved in the Conference League Group stages).

Only 6 games currently in July – don’t think that will change but who knows. St. Pat’s first up followed by Sarajevo coming to Oriel Park in the UCL 1st Qual Round. And 3 relatively easy league games in there as well, with a Summer transfer window ongoing. We have 12 players wanted so far!

Stevie Moore made the IPD team of the week following the last Shamrock game.

Tommy Collins got IPD player of the month for June – 4 goals in 4 appearances. Matyty Burrows was 2nd for Derry and ex-Dundalk player Harry Durham was 3rd for St. Pat’s.

Dundalker Gerry O’Halloran came 3rd in the IPD goal of the month for Cork.

I was only 2nd in the Manager of the month (4 wins and a draw). Neale Fenn won it for Cork (2 wins…..)

We have just under £24k in the bank, an ‘A’ with the board and Good/Excellent/Excellent Dynamics.

4th July 2025 – St. Pat’s Athletic (A) – Irish Premier Division

FT St. Pat’s Athletic 1 (Varian 90+1) Dundalk 1 (Collins 48) Att 1,662 (352 Away)

This ends our run of playing 2nd or 3rd in 4 of our last 5 league matches. We beat St. Pat’s 5-0 in the LSC final but I expect this to be a lot tougher. Jenks picks up a tight groin in the first 5 minutes – getting him off to be safe. Taylor on. St. Pat’s looking far more dangerous today. We’ve had some decent chances but Bossin has made some good saves. Somehow it’s 0-0 athe break – Bossin with 9 saves. We finally take the lead in the 48th minute, Tommy Collins with a second bite at the Cherry after another fine Bossin save. Going balanced and 4-1-4-1, Holloway into the DM role. And then Tommy Collins gets himself sent of for a horrible 2-legged lunge… Twat. Knight moves up to Shadow Striker, Holloway as a defensive BWM. Can we hold on? We enter the final 10…5…Highlight Dundalk, a Duffy header turned over by Bossin. Corner, nothing From it. Stoppages (4 mins)… and we fucking gift them a goal. Ngoy misses an easty header, Varian runs in and scores. It finishes 1-1, really quite poor. We have to do better.

Shamrock down to 4th as they draw with Shelbourne and Derry win, Burrows with another goal to his tally.

Our U19’s beat St. Pat’s U19 8-1, goals from Dom Halford (Triallist STC, ex-Man Utd), a hattrick from Neil Hanna and a hattrick from another triallist, David Behrenbeck (18yo STC, ex-Auerbach in Germany).

And I’ve extended 18yo Josh Donnelly’s contract – £500/wk until the end of 2027. He is on loan at Limerick.

We’ve had a Sarajevo scout report – Bosnia is a non-playable league so we should be fine.


Jiri Capek goes back to Czechia. We signed him for £75k so we’ve wiped our face with £92k. Current scout rating – 37%…

Mo Fofana goes to Hungary for £40k – we will lose a bit on the deal (We paid £35k for him) but its £1.7k off the wage budget.

Squad decided for the UCL. Tough one, as a few of the players are possibly on their way out.

Ray Moore & Steve Seddon made the IPD team of the week.


Alex Rubarth (Came in on a Free) goes to Rakow in the Ekstraklasa in Poland for £525k, rising to £575k. A good player (Still shows as a 66% on the Scout Summary) but at 23 he needs more game time. We wish him well.

Youngster Alan Brady goes to Shamrock Rovers. He was set to release at the end of the season so I’m fine to let him go for nothing now.


Old Contract was £2.8k/wk, now tied in to the end of 2028. Feel like I may be ready for a change by then, we shall see.

9th July 2025 – Sarajevo (BIH) (H) – UEL Champions 1st Qual Round 1st Leg

FT Dundalk 9 (Collins 1, 32, 82, McGarvey 31, 69 Connolly 38, 49, 60, Jenkinson 89) Sarajevo 0 Att 4,315 (32 Away)

FK Sarajevo ( is the most popular club in Bosnia, and are current Bosnian champions IRL. In game the league is non-playable, but they have had UCL qualification games in 4 of the last 6 July’s so can’t be sniffed at. Sarajevo setting up as a 4-4-2 narrow diamond today – Will be going wide. And it’s a bit rainy this evening. Hell of a start though, 25 second, Tommy Collins making a great run and thumping home from a great Connolly through-ball. 1-0 Dundalk. As expected we are killing them out wide. But we are being a bit wasteful with our chances. But we do make it 2-0 in the 31st minute, Big Colin McGarvey breaking a barren spell with a very-acutely angled finish after being fed in by Jenks. 3-0 within a minute, Tommy Collins stabbing home after great work by Michael Duffy, playing on the right today. 4-0 in the 38th minute, and its a cracker, Brian Connolly with a low volley pinging into the bottom right corner from 18 yards, from a Freddy Barton bullet of a cross. 4-0 at the break, a great start to our European campaign. Connolly makes it 5-0 in the 49th minute, another great volley from a Duffy dinked cross. And he gets his hat-trick in the 60th minute, a fine header whilst sprinting from another Duffy cross. 6-0. 7-0 in the 69th, McGarvey with his second, a header at the back post from a Steve Seddon corner. Didn’t expect this kind of demolition. 8-0 in the 82nd minute, a second hat-trick (I think for the first time this save), Tommy Collins with his 28th of season, a fine faded header across the keeper from a Seddon cross. If we can get Big Col a goal that would be 3 hat-tricks and 3 match balls in the team 🙂 It is 9, but its Jenks, a banger from 20 yards from a Taylor pass. And he had his chance, a 1-on-1, but his 6 finishing doesn’t help him there. It finishes 9-0 🙂 Tie over? 🙂

No real shocks in the 1st legs – maybe HJK only getting a 0-0 versus Beitar Jerusalem. Larne lost 2-0 to our old friends Dinamo and TNS lost 1-0 to KA (ISL). Kids out for the 2nd leg I think, get them some European experience in a (potentially) hostile stadium in Bosnia. Shelbourne next up before our trip to the Balkans.

St Pat’s drop points to a plucky Longford side and Waterford are just 3 points back on Shamrock in 4th with their 3-1 win over a troubled Cobh side. Shamrock sneak a win versus Limerick and Derry move to within 3 points of St. pat’s in 2nd with their win at Cork.


18yo German David Behrenbeck arrives on a free, after time at Auerbach in Germany. A 6ft 1in poacher he is very solid for an 18yo, and I hope to see him develop well here.

12th July 2025 – Shelbourne (A) – Irish Premier Division

FT Shelbourne 1 (Brennan 19) Dundalk 3 (Carlin 8, Hanna 21, McShane 38) Att 1,032 (546 Away)

Shelbourne currently sit 8th. I’ve got a few of the younger lads out this evening, seeing as we are 19 points clear with a game in hand 🙂 Tommy Carlin pops up for 1-0. 8th minute, a nice finish from a McShane headed pass into the middle, Carlin reacting the best. It’s 1-1 however in the 19th minute – a deep free kick finding its way through, Brennan finishing well. A good reply, 2-1 Dundalk, 2 minutes later, Neil Hanna with a direct free kick and his first goal for Dundalk. And it’s 3-1 in the 38th minute – Colm McShane with a fine finish on the volley from a Neil Hanna deep free kick, very similar to Shelbourne’s goal. 3-1 at the break. Quite a few highlights in the 2nd half, but lacking in quality. It finished 3-1.

Ahead by 7 games with 14 left. We travel to Bosnia in a few days for our UCL 2nd leg.

We have a few big transfer outs possible in the new while. watch this space…


Hoping Tim can help Shamrock in the Conference League coming up.

Our U19’s win 9-0 versus Leixlip Utd – goals from Aidan Hamilton, Martin Kenny, triallists Fisnik Beu, Andrea Palumbo, Dom Halford and 4 from Tyrese Campbell (ex-Stoke).

Steve Seddon has signed a new contract that takes him to 2028, when he will be 30.

Five of the lads made the IPD team of the week.


Keeper Barry Reilly goes to Waterford. He was another one of the youngsters set to release, so fine with that.

Confusingly Striker Barry Reilly has gone to St. Mirren for £16k. He was never going to get into the 1st team consistently, and we’ve made a bit of a loss as we bought him for £69k, but St. Mirren must see something in him as he’s on £6.75k/week!


Ex-Man Utd striker Dom Halford arrives on a 3-year contract. A natural DLF Dom already has 16 passing and could give us different attacking options. Cheap as well. Welcome Dom.

16th July 2025 – Sarajevo (BIH) (A) – UEL Champions 1st Qual Round 2nd Leg

FT Sarajevo 0 Dundalk 6 (McGarvey 1, 23, 36, Taylor 32, Collins 44, O’Malley 53) Att 1,400 (4 Away) – Dundalk wins 15-0 on Aggregate

Asim Ferhatović Hase Olympic Stadium, Sarajevo – Capacity 34,630

We make the 1,300 mile journey to Bosnia and Herzegovina to play a Sarajevo side still reeling from being pumped 9-0 in the first leg. More of the same please 🙂

They are still playing that narrow diamond – Extremely Wide, Play down the Wings… Not many people in tonight as we take the lead in 17 seconds!!!! Big Colin tapping in after a gorgeous through ball by Jenks. Tommy Collins scores in the 6th minute, but was a tad offside. Col gets his 2nd in the 23rd minute, a towering header from a Steven O’Malley corner. 3-0 and 12-0 on aggregate in the 32nd, Jake Taylor popping up with a smart finish from a Tommy Collins pull-back. And Col get’s his hat-trick in the 36th minute, a placed shot from 15 yards. Steven O’Malley with the assist. Tommy Collins makes it 5 with a close range header just before half time, the cross from that man O’Malley, his hat-trick (of assists). 5-0 at the break, 14-0 on aggregate. Good on the 4 lads that made the trip as well 🙂 Steven O’Malley gets himself a goal in the 53rd minute, finishing off a McGarvey pass from close range. It’s a much quieter half though. It finishes 6-0, and 15-0 on aggregate.

We will be playing Ludogorets, 10-0 conquerors of Buducnost. Will definitely be the tie of the round. Larne go out 3-2 to Dinamo despite beating them on the night. TNS go out 1-0 to KA. Disappointing. HJK sneak in in the 91str minute versus Beitar Jerusalem. We have a league game versus Limerick before making the trip to Bulgaria for the 1st leg.

Jake Taylor has signed a new contract, Squad Player, until the end of 2027. Good to tie him down.

More IPD action as Cobh get a really good point versus St. Pat’s. Derry & Shamrock both win making the race for 2nd really close with 13 games left.

19th July 2025 – Limerick F.C. (A) – Irish Premier Division

FT Limerick F.C. 0 Dundalk 6 (Stevie Moore pen 44, 74, Williams 45+1, Hanna 55, Carlin 60) Att 1,603 (196 Away)

Limerick sit 7th in the IPD, 8 points clear of Cobh in 9th. 4 of their best 6 players as per our scouts are Dundalkers on loan though, so these games will always be tough for them. A very quiet start. Dundalk with plenty of highlights but a lack of quality. And it takes until the 44th minute for a potential breakthrough, Penalty Dundalk, Stevie Moore pushed by Grant. He takes the pen himself… 1-0, thumped into the right corner. And within a minute it’s 2-0, Neco Williams with what looked like a toe punt straight across the keeper with plenty of power. 1st of the season. 2-0 at the break. 3-0 in the 55th minute, and its an absolute banger, Neil Hanna, 25 yard daisycutter, stayed the same height above the ground the whole way, just inside the left post. Tommy Carlin gets in on the act in the 60th minute to make it 4-0, a composed finish after being fed in by a gorgeous Duffy pass. Stevie Moore gets his 2nd of the game with a fine header from a Joe Holloway deep free kick. 5-0. Just before time Brian Connolly gets the sixth, an unchallenged header from a Duffy corner. It finishes 6-0 🙂 24 goals scored in the last 4 games!

8 games clear, 13 games left.

Right, Ludogorets in 4 days.

And this news item is a biggie…

Tommy Collins has turned down Espanyol (8th in La Liga) and Huddersfield (8th in the Premier League) to stay with us. He must have been being offered at least 10 times his wage here as well. Quite emotional that he wants to stay!! Huddersfield were offering £6M, Espanyol £5M!!!!


Sean Sheehan will be going to Waterford (He’s there on loan) at the end of his contract. It’s a good move for him.

Neil Hanna showing improvements – he’s now just half a star below Jenks and will be our starting playmaker from next season (18 First Touch, 18 Flair, 17 Teamwork, 16 tekkers and Vision. Passing is 13 but getting better.

Our U19’s beat Monaghan Cavan 5-1, a brace from Triallist right winger Paul Scully (ex-Wolves) and a hat-trick from new signing David Behrenbeck.

We’ve had a Ludogorets scout report – I’d have us slightly stronger if anything, though they are good. Nothing like Dynamo Kyiv though.

We’ve had the UCL Champions 3rd Qual Round draw. We are top seeds again.

Legia Warszawa or Saburtalo Tbilisi. Poland or Georgia (Should imagine Poland). Legia look similar in strength to Ludogorets but haven’t been past the UCL 3rd Qual Round this save.

We got 9 of the lads into the IPD team of the Week following the 6-0 versus Limerick.


Chris McCabe goes to Cork for the rest of the season. Hopefully he should get lots of game time.

23rd July 2025 – Ludogorets (BUL) (A) – UCL Champions 2nd Qual Round 1st Leg

Ludogorets Arena, Razgrad. Capacity 12,500

We make the 1,650 mile journey to Razgrad in NE bulgaria to play a Ludogorets side ( who have dominated Bulgarian Football IRL since 2011 when they were bought by Bulgarian Pharma entrepreneur Kiril Domuschiev. So they’re the Man City of Bulgaria and not much liked in the country as a whole.

FT Ludogorets 0 Dundalk 4 (Ngoy 21, Collins 62, 87, Holloway 63) Att 10,693 (22 Away)

We always have a bit of an advantage in these UCL qualifiers as we are fully into our season, and all that that means from a cohesion standpoint, most teams are just starting their league at this time. The bookies have Ludogorets favourites. They are playing the 4-2-3-1 Wide 2DM/AM tactic that I don’t remember facing this save. Dundalk on the front foot early. We take the lead in the 21st minute, Nathan Ngoy with the powerful header following a clearance header. It looks like it went through South Korean International Kim Seung-Gyu’s hands. Away goal #1 (of many I hope). Dundalk very on top, but it’s just 1-0 at the break. They look shattered at the start of the 2nd half. Tommy Collins gets our 2nd in the 62nd minute, volleying home an O’Malley cross after Steven mugged the left-back Yordanov. Great goal. His 30th of the season! And its 3-0 within a minute. And it’s one for the highlight real, a stunning volley from Joe Holloway from the edge of the area. And the night gets worse for Ludogorets. 87th minute, a mix-up betwixt Keeper and defender Petrov from a Barton cross gives Tommy Collins a tap-in for his 2nd of the night and our 4th. Demolition of a side that drew with Porto in the UCL group stages last season.

Pretty sure we will be playing Legia as they win 7-0. A bit of a surprise as FCSB beat Astana 2-0. Rangers lose their first leg 2-0 to AEK in the Best Placed 2nd Qual Round.

We’ve had the FAI Cup 1st Round Draw…

Athlone Town (3rd in the First Division) in another cup (We beat them 5-0 in the Leinster Senior Cup Quarters). This will be played in mid August, though August usually gets rearranged a lot due to European football.

A couple of IPD games, 2 goals, both scorers Dundalk players. Of all the players I think Barry O’Leary may be the one that makes the first team regularly.

Our compadres have been in European action. Shamrock lost 2-1 to Zrinjski in Bosnia, St. Pat’s beat Grbalj (Montenegro) 2-0 and Derry got a good 2-2 draw away on Norway versus Brann, Matty Burrows on the scoresheet. Hoping Shamrock can turn it around and Derry can continue their good work.

Our little French leftback Geoffrey Astler keeps getting a 10 in training 🙂 5* PA as well!

26th July 2025 – Longford Town (H) – Irish Premier Division

FT Dundalk 2 (Stevie Moore 47, Kelly 49) Longford Town 1 (Finnerty 45) Att 3,565 (130 Away)

Longford are still bottom, but that means nothing in FM. We drew 2-2 at theirs last time we played them, and should have lost. I want to destroy them today. And I expect my second-string/youngsters to get in amongst them. They are playing their 3-4-1-2 with just the 2 wingers out wide. Guess what I’ll be doing… And its a good attacking start from the boys, Horgan with 4 good saves in the first 15. And just before half time we are sucker-punched – a set piece, Finnerty with the back post header. We go in 1-0 down – 11 saves from Horgan in the Longford goal. It’s a bit mad. Hairdryer at half time, 1-1 in the 47th minute, Stevie Moore with a good back post header from a Joe Holloway free kick. Identical goal 2 minutes later except Jordan Kelly gets his 12th of the season. 2-1 Dundalk, good reply. We get to the last 10 with still just that 1 goal separating the teams. We hang on, 2-1, Horgan with 22 saves and a 7.6 in the Longford net.

27 points clear 🙂 30 games unbeaten.

More games the day after – Shamrock picking up 3 points and a great game at Richmond Park – St. Pat’s getting the win, Matty Burrows getting 2 for Derry.

Our U19’s beat Edenderry 8-0, goals from triallist DC Andrew Omobamidele, Mark Hanratty, Martin Kenny, Dan Kelly, 17yo STC Andrew Carroll and a hat-trick from David Behrenbeck. Unfortunately Hanratty tore his hamstring and will be out for a couple of months.


Youngster Darragh Walsh goes to Cabo on a free.

Sam McCabe goes on loan to Waterford to get game time.

Steve Seddon out for a month with a hernia. Bugger. That said Geoff Astler and Ryan Corrigan should be fine.


17yo Austrian Dom Kiene comes in from Austria Vienna for £500k. 5* PA, solid mentals and physicals for a 17yo, 16 Team Work and Work Rate!

That’s Irish deadline day done 🙂

We had 4 of the lads in the IPD team of the week.


Calum Watson goes to Rangers. I paid £725k for him… Got a 6.9 in league 2 for Scunthorpe last season… Now rated as a 47 by our scouts, so glad to get £200k TBH.

Ray Moore is on his way out as well, and its a big bug. Got arsey about not getting game time – He was at the Euro U21 with Ireland… He wouldn’t let it go even though he was getting good game time so I’m shipping him for cost – £400k. A real shame but can’t have that crap.

30th July 2025 – Ludogorets (BUL) (H) – UCL Champions 2nd Qual Round 2nd Leg

FT Dundalk 1 (Collins 23) Ludogorets 1 (Yankov 69) Att 4,315 (29 Away) – Dundalk wins 5-1 on Aggregate.

Ludogorets lost their league game to Beroe 2-0 after our 1st leg. Think this is the last game we will play at Oriel Park before it’s capacity isn’t big enough. A combative start from the boys, but lacking a bit of quality. 1-0 Dundalk, 23rd minute, that man Tommy Collins with his 32nd of the season, a bullet header from an O’Malley free kick. More chances after the goal, but still lacking a bit of quality. 1-0 at the break. Ludogorets looking better than they have all tie, and they equalise on the night (Still 5-1 on aggregate), Yankov woith a tap-in after a good ball through. It ends 1-1. A bit disappointing on the night, but that doesn’t matter. We are through to the 3rd Qualifying Round.

We will be playing Legia, 11-0 winners over Saburtalo on aggregate. Will be a tough one. FCSB knock out Astana, Rangers out as well.

That’s it for the games this month.

Not too bad – bookended by those two draws. August has 9 games currently – I’m hoping for rearrangements when we get past Legia to the UCL Playoff!!!

Lets go through the last few bits before the month ends.

Our other European teams played their Conference League 2nd Qual Round 2nd Legs on the 31st July.

Shamrock go through on away goals after winning 1-0 on the night, 2-2 on aggregate versus Zrinjski (BIH). They play Dundee Utd (Finished 5th last season in the Scottish Premiership) in the 3rd Round. St. Pat’s go through 5-0 versus Grbalj (MNE) – They play Univ. Craiova (ROM) in the 3rd Round. Lastly Derry City unfortunately get knocked out 5-3 on aggregate by Brann (NOR). 2 qualifying Rounds left for Shamrock & St. Pat’s before the group stage.

Next time we will hopefully qualify for the UCL Group stages for the third time in 3 years 🙂 See you soon.

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