The Grind – #FM20 OS8 C2 S4 – Part 76 – Dundalk – May 2026

Welcome back to Dundalk for a busy May 2026.

Two games a week all month, and a tough run as well. Will be happy if we can go unbeaten.

Michael Duffy scoops the IPD player of the month for April, with Steven O’Malley 2nd, and I come 2nd in the Manager of the Month behind Derry boss Jim McGuinness, who’s only dropped points were to us.

We have £40M in the bank (We lose about £1M/month when we aren’t getting that sweet European money) but I’m back to an A+ with the Board. Dynamics are Very Good\Excellent\Excellent still. Looking good.

1st May 2026 – Shelbourne (H) – Irish Premier Division

FT Dundalk 5 (McGarvey 17, 25, 45+3, Duffy 22, 89) Shelbourne 0 Att 3,854 (160 Away)

Shelbourne sit 6th after a decent start but have lost 4 of their last 5 matches. We should be strong enough at home to dominate. We look good early and go 1-0 up in the 17th minute – Big Col placing a shot in from just inside the area, assist of Colm McShane. And Michael Duffy continues his good form with his 8th goal of the season after being slipped in by Colin, a fine pass. 2-0, 22 minutes gone. And we don’t wait long for the third – Big Col again, a gorgeous header from a Stevie Seddon cross. Just before the break Col gets his hat-trick, another fine header from a Duffy cross this time. The McGarvey & Duffy show. 4-0 at the break. It’s a quiet second half – we are getting chances but there’s less enthusiasm as the game is already won. And McCabe has made some great saves. Michael Duffy makes it 5 with his second of the game – a back=post header from a Connolly whipped cross. All done, 5-0.

Waterford continue their winning ways against Shamrock – Now 7th after 14 games! – but Cork slip again. Limerick and Finn Harps dropping off a bit at the bottom. And St. Pat’s sneak a draw versus a good Derry side. The next 2 games are in the cups – St. Pat’s in the League Cup Quarters in 3 days, then Shamrock in the Leinster Semi.

Our U19’s beat Athlone 2-0 – Goals from Richie O’Sullivan and Dom Halford.

We’ve signed David Behrenbeck to the club until the end of 2028 as he’s getting pretty good 🙂

4th May 2026 – St. Pat’s Athletic (A) – League Cup Quarter Final

FT St. Pat’s Athletic 1 (Durham 15) Dundalk 3 (McGarvey 8, 36, 66) Att 2,036 (444 Away)

It’s not too long since we beat St. Pat’s 2-0 – a week – And they drew with Derry 1-1 – They have Dundalk-old-boy Harry Durham starting up top. It’s an open game early, O’Malley hitting the post in the 6th minute. The ball is pinging around all over the pitch 🙂 And we take the lead soon after, Big Col running in and scoring well from an O’Malley through-ball. St. Pat’s equalise out of nothing in the 15th minute – Harry Durham getting a bit of space and scoring well. The game is a bit of a madness, tackles flying in, blocks at full stretch, all kinds of stuff. Big Col puts us back in the lead in the 36th minute, absolutely skinning Toner before tucking the ball inside the far post. 2-1 at the break – we should have put this to bed (11 shots on target), Keeper Bossin keeping them in it. Tommy Collins comes on for the last 30 🙂 And does Big Col seal it? his second hat-trick in as many games, dispossessing the St. Pat’s defender (Toner again) near half way, sprinting off and thundering a shot home. 3-1. Stunning by our Captain! It finishes 3-1 – another League Cup Semi Final some time in August to play in 🙂

Bray (3rd in the First Division) knock Athlone out in a shock in the other Quarter Final played today. Shamrock next up in 4 days in the Leinster Senior Cup Semis.

Ten of the lads made the IPD team of the Week.

Man Utd through to the UCL final with a 3-1 aggregate win over Chelsea,

U.C.D. shock Derry on penalties and go through to the League Cup Semis with Limerick.

It will be a Man Utd v PSG UCL Final as PSG see off Schalke in Germany.

8th May 2026 – Shamrock Rovers (H) – Leinster Senior Cup Semi Final

FT Dundalk 2 (Duffy pen 32, Behrenbeck 54) Shamrock Rovers 0 Att 4,422 (300 Away)

We entertain a Shamrock side currently 7th in the IPD, having not strung 2 wins together since Mid March. I always expect a tough one against them though. A decent start, a few chances for the lads. Duffy has had a good few chances as we get to the half-hour mark. He does get a very dubious penalty though in the 32nd minute – looked like a great tackle from Dummigan. He takes it himself (Due a miss)… 1-0, lovely Pen, Keeper goes the wrong way. 1-0 at the break. And we go 2-0 up in the 54yth minute – Behrenbeck with a one-on-one after a great ball by that man Duffy – he’s been at the heart of everything today. Time runs down after the 2nd goal, and the next highlight is another Dundalk penalty in the 88th minute, another really dodgy decision, this time Connolly “Fouled” by Hughes. Looks like we’ve paid off the ref!! Duffy takes… and shoots wide. Think he did that on purpose 🙂 It finishes 2-0, another final, and we will be playing…

Drogheda Utd (9th in the First Division) who knock out 4th placed U.C.D. in extra time. That will take place at the end of June, maybe when we have a good few players on International Duty. Right, Cork City next up in 3 days.

Some more IPD games played – Waterford looking strong contenders for European football next season with a good win versus St. Pat’s, Jim Collins with yet another goal. Athlone get another win, this time versus Derry and Limerick get a point versus Shels.

Our U19’s beat Derry 5-1, goals from Rimvydas Romanovas and 4 from Dom Halford.

11th May 2026 – Cork City (H) – Irish Premier Division

FT Dundalk 5 (Burrows pen 13, Hanna 29, 44, Knight 67, Collins 90+3) Cork City 0 Att 4,500 (225 Away)

Cork’s form has dropped off a bit since their unbeaten start to the season (Lost 5 in a row!!), but they still sit 3rd and these games are always tough. Dundalk start really strongly and we get a penalty in the 13th minute – Burrows brought down by Bardell at a set piece. And he takes it himself… 1-0, well struck. 2-0 just before the half-hour, Neil Hanna with a DFK, speculative, almost as if he saw the Keeper poorly positioned. He has that in his locker. Make that 2 DFK’s! – This one more conventional, but still a gorgeous bending 25-yarder 🙂 3-0 at the break. A slower second half (Nearly always happens when we are clear at Half Time) but we go 4-0 up in the 67th minute – Jason Knight with his 1st of the season, a nice half-volley at the back post from a Duffy Free Kick. Steve Seddon picks up a poorly groin, so Geoff Astler comes on for the first time since his injury. And just before time it’s 5 – Tommy Collins with his first since coming back from injury, a tap-in after a McGarvey header back across the face of the goal. It finishes 5-0 – a great day at the office 🙂

Shamrock sneak a 93rd minute winner in against bottom team Finn Harps to go 6th. We play Shamrock next in 4 days.

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

Michael Duffy and Jason Knight potentially on the way to the World Cup (USA, Canada & Mexico) for Ireland. They are in a group with Brazil & Honduras 🙂 I don’t think we will have any other call-ups as N. Ireland didn’t qualify.

We are now the most prolific development club in the IPD – 29 players developed at Dundalk are playing in the top flight. Think this is bugged though – we didn’t develop Matty Burrows, David Behrenbeck, Gerry O’Halloran etc.

Keeper Conor O’Malley is now in his rehab phase 🙂 Slowly, slowly!

15th May 2026 – Shamrock Rovers (A) – Irish Premier Division

FT Shamrock Rovers 1 (Pender 11) Dundalk 0 Att 4,290 (759 Away)

Looking to keep our foot on the throat of what-has-been our closest rival in my time at Dundalk. Tallaght Stadium is like a second home to us, wondering if we will continue playing there in Europe or that last game at the RDS will be the norm. A quiet start, but Shamrock take a shock lead in the 11th minute – a good header from Pender from a deep free kick. Not good, we’re having chances but no quality in front of goal. 1-0 down at the break. Not feeling it, feels like one of those games. Plenty of chances in the second half, just no quality whatsoever. Bollocks. First loss in over 50 games.

2nd and 3rd play out a 0-0, Derry & St. Pat’s win and Finn harps are off the bottom with their 3rd win of the season. We have Waterford next, and need to pull our fucking socks up as that was shit.

Dave Behrenbeck coming on leaps and bounds. He trains like a beast as well. Lets get him a Germany youth call-up 🙂

Our U19’s beat Ballinasloe 2-0, both goals from Jordan Kelly.

18th May 2026 – Waterford (H) – Irish Premier Division

FT Dundalk 3 (Jenkinson 19, Behrenbeck 44, 71) Waterford 0 Att 3,318 (148 Away)

Top play 2nd today and we’ve got to to do better up top. We get a chance early – Burrows not able to put it away one-on-one. Their Keeper Connor has already made 3 world-class saves in the first 15 minutes. We take the lead in the 19th minute, and its Jenks with a header at the back post from an O’Malley free Kick – Playing him as a BBM today. It’s quiet after the goal until just before the break, when Behrenbeck heads home a Burrows near-post cross. Much better. 2-0 at the break. Waterford down to 10 with 35 minutes left, Greenidge with a second yellow. Behrenbeck gets his second of the game after a fine move down the right – slotting home from a Duffy pass. His 10th of the season. Very nicely done lads, we win 3-0.

Seven points clear with a game in hand as we approach the half-way point in the season. We have St. Pat’s next up in 4 days.

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

We’ve had the League Cup Semi Final Draw.

U.C.D at home – 10th August.

22nd May 2026 – St. Pat’s Athletic (A) – Irish Premier Division

FT St. Pat’s Athletic 1 (Lennon 13) Dundalk 1 (McGarvey 85) Att 1,654 (x Away)

St Pat’s sit 5th currently – A 3-0 win versus Athlone last time out was their first in 6. A decent open start. We seem to have stopped being able to score one-on-ones. And its another away game that we go behind – same method, Lennon with a header from an Armstrong free kick. FFS. McShane gets a straight red injury – foot – Hanna on, Dallas to WM. 1-0 St. Pat’s at the break. Another one where nothing is working. Bossin has had a blinder – doubt we’d score in 180 minutes. But then a breakthrough – 85th minute, McGarvey with the finish after a scrappy build up, ball through by Jenks. 1-1. Game on. But that’s how it finished. Something not clicking this season.

For the first time in a while I’m not sure who my best 11 are. Waterford lose to Athlone meaning we are 8 points clear with a game in hand. Derry up to 3rd, Shamrock coming back to form are now in 5th, Cork dropping off. We have Shamrock at home next.

Colm McShane out for a month with a twisted ankle.

Our U19’s beat Bohs 3-1, goals from Sean Brennan, Tommy Coffey and Dom Halford.

Jason Knight hasn’t made the Ireland squad, obviously disappointed. Michael Duffy has been called up though, so we have one player there 🙂

25th May 2026 – Shamrock Rovers (H) – Irish Premier Division

FT Dundalk 3 (McGarvey 45, O’Malley 58, 65) Shamrock Rovers 1 (Moore 88) Att 4,500 (225 Away)

Time for some revenge. We jump out of the blocks well, a few chances early. Colin McGarvey has picked up a bruised shin – will nurse him to half time. And maybe a parting gift from him – 1-0 Dundalk, 45th minute, a great header from a Seddon cross. 1-0 at the break. We make it 2 in the 58th minute – O’Malley with the finish after fine work by Burrows. Kickoff highlight… and its a long one… Duffy hits the side netting. 65th minute – we go 3-0 up, and it’s a cracker, O’Malley from 25 yards. This is more like it. Moore gets one back 2 minutes from time to make it 3-1. That’s how it finishes.

Everybody has played 18 games now – halfway through the season and we are 11 points clear.

Big Col only out for a few days with a bruised shin – we play Athlone in our last game of the month in 4 days.

Two of the lads made the IPD Team of the Week, O’Malley & Big Col.

Steve Seddon out for a month – Ankle Ligaments. Fuck.

29th May 2026 – Athlone Town (A) – Irish Premier Division

FT Athlone Town 1 (Maloney 81) Dundalk 2 (Duffy 13, Collins 55) Att 535 (290 Away)

Athlone currently sit 7th – Their form for the last 7 games is LWLWLWLW, so they are due a loss to keep the streak going 🙂 Athlone start strongly, but we take the lead in the 13th minute – Michael Duffy stabbing home a whipped Freddy Barton cross. 1-0 at the break, but its tight. Tommy Collins and Connolly on at half time, and Collins gets his 2nd of the season in the 55th minute, assist from Burrows. Athlone back with a sniff, Maloney, 81st minute, Barton missing an header. We hold on, 2-1 Dundalk.

Waterford & Cork both win, Waterford very nicely versus a strong Derry side. Shamrock nick all 3 points in the 90th minute versus Shelbourne, St. Pat’s in the 79th minute versus Finn Harps.

That’s it for this month – next is an odd one, with the World Cup meaning we only have 2 competitive games.

Shamrock was very disappointing, but we played well in our 3rd game versus them in the month. Only Derry & the Leinster Senior Cup final in may, but we should also find out who we play in the UCL Qualifiers, the transfer window will open towards the end of the month and I hope to be doing a fair old cull. Lastly we should be getting some more end-of-competition UCL monies.

A few days of the month left, lets see what happens…

Our U19’s beat Drogheda 4-2, goals from Brian Smith, Kevin O’Toole and a brace from Dom Halford.

Man Utd are champions of Europe for the 25/26 season. A comfortable win. We receive £900k for TV Revenue and £2.9M for Coefficient ranking money, so just under £3.8M 🙂 £43.6M in the bank.

Data Analysis Facilities being upgraded (£275k, taking 3 weeks), and Youth (£2M, End of March 2027) , but the Training facility upgrade has been denied… FFS, we have £43M in the bank!!!

Biggest Overachievers for the 2nd season in a row, Steven O’Malley King of the Assists of the 2nd year in a row as well – 11 assists is a new UCL record. And Tommy Collins came 3rd in the UCL Forward of the Season 🙂

No update to the coefficients, but I think we will be 16th, meaning we will start in the 2nd Qual Round of the UCL. Hopefully we will get that extra European spot for Ireland by the 27/28 European campaign. We still have 2 weak years at the start of the 5-year to drop, so by 28/29 we could have Ireland in the top 10 – 10th gives you the Group Stage entry, which Turkey have currently.

So 16th this coming campaign, with Greece & Switzerland dropping huge seasons for the 27/28 campaign and Czechia in 28/29. What we need is clubs getting points in the Conference League, so it’s not just us. We also need to finish 3rd in our UCL group and go down the Europa Route – think we will get more points that way. 9 points a season will get you 9th – Group stage for the League winner, guaranteed Europa League for the 2nd placed team, a guaranteed Conference league place for the 3rd places team and 2 other teams with shots at Conference League qualification.

So that’s that, see you next time for June 2026 – the World Cup and a couple of games. See you soon.

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