From Valletta to Oswestry? – #FM20 OS8 C2 S4 – Part 78 – Dundalk – July 2026

The start of our European journey this season

Welcome back to Dundalk for an action-packed July of 2026.

Our first competitive match will be the 1st Leg of the UCL 1st Qualifying Round versus Valletta.

But then disaster… My Save file has corrupted, blue screen during a save… My last save I can use was just prior to the Drogheda final, so I’m just going to go and win that again… 7-1 this time.

OK – Ireland beat Ivory Coast 3-1 this time to go to the Quarter Final in the World Cup… They will have Mexico or Croatia, another winnable one!!

Right, back to the game. Jenks gets IPD goal of the month for his 25-yarder versus Derry.

We have £42.7M in the bank, Are just a B with the Board now for some reason, and are back to Very Good\Excellent\Excellent dynamics

2nd July 2026 – Friendly – FT Dundalk 3 (Carlin 7, Williams 46, 51) Glentoran 0 Att 1,335 (78 Away)

A decent win against a strong Glentoran side in pre-season. Neco Williams on at half-time on the right wing with a couple.

Six days until we entertain the Maltese Champions Valletta FC at Oriel Park in the UCL 1st Qual Round 1st Leg

Our U19’s beat Finn Harps 6-0, goals from Gerry Butler, Brian Smith, Jamie Forde and a Hat-trick from Dom Halford, he unfortunately picked up a damaged shoulder and will be out for a few weeks.

Conor O’Malley has signed a new contract taking him to the end of 2028 and 34 years of age.

Dom Halford has gone to Waterford until the end of the season on loan – would be nice to get them to Europe in 27/28.

18yo Fullback Shaun Costello has joined Wexford.

Ireland have finally gone out of the World Cup – 2-0 to Croatia.

Right winger Martin Kenny has signed a new 18-month contract – looking for him to be understudy to Steven O’Malley with Colm McShane possibly on his way.

18yo Striker Tommy Coffey is off to Cork City on a free.

8th July 2026 – Valletta (H) – UCL 1st Qual Round 1st Leg

FT – Dundalk 7 (McGarvey 10, 26, 31, Connolly 33, Dallas 44, Behrenbeck 50, 55) Valletta 0 Att 4,299 (18 Away)

Malta isn’t a playable league, so Valletta only has 3 real players. This should be by-the-book. We take the lead in the 10th minute – Big Col from an O’Malley corner, though Steven hasn’t got the assist. Kickoff Highlight… Should have been 2-0. Penalty Dundalk in the 18th minute, Aquilina with the handball. Jenks takes, but hit the outside of the right-hand post. The Keeper Mifsud has already made a handful of really good saves, but we finally go 2-0 up. 26th minute, a Behrenbeck header is saved amazingly, but McGarvey is on hand to tap in. And it’s Big Col’s hat-trick in the 31st minute – his header from an O’Malley corner flapped into the net by Mifsud. 2 minutes later Connolly makes it 4 – tapping in an O’Malley pass. It’s 5-0 just before the break – David Dallas knows nothing about it, but Pulis clears the ball against him and it dribbles in. 5-0 at the break – 22 shots on target in the 1st half! 6-0 in the 50th minute – Dave Behrenbeck with a close-in header from an O’Malley cross – his hat-trick of assists. McGarvey could have had 10 himself as he has another 1-on-1 saved, but Dave makes it 7-0 in the 55th minute – another O’Malley assist as he heads in a corner, completely unmarked. All quiet after the 7th goal. It finishes 7-0 – 34 shots on target this evening!

Some big scores, but (to me) a shock with Zrinjski beating TNS 3-0 in Shrewsbury. Maybe we will have to go to Bosnia for the 2nd season in a row? Larne win their first leg 2-0 versus Dinamo Batumi of Georgia. Seven days to the 2nd leg in the Maltese capital, with Finn Harps in the League before then.

The final of the World Cup will be Germany v England, as Germany beat Croatia 301 and England beat Brazil 5-2(!) – Goals from Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli, newgen John Hill and a brace from Marcus Rashford. Brazil made it 2-2 in the 80th minute!!! Then Rashford got a brace and Sterling scored to make the scoreline a bit more kind.

1th July 2026 – Finn Harps (A) – Irish Premier Division

FT Finn Harps 1 (Hevey 11) Dundalk 5 (McShane 6, Collins 52, Moore pen 62, Burrows 90+3, Connolly 90+5) Att 928 (285 Away)

Finn Harps last played a game of football 5 weeks ago… 1-0 Dundalk, 6th minute, Both wingers combining, Connolly with the cross, McShane with the headed finish. But it’s 1- soon after, Hevey getting to the loose ball first after a free kick – suffering from these at the moment. 1-1 at the break. We go back in front in the 52nd minute – Collins finishing off a good break, Colm McShane doing most of the yards after a Finn Harps free kick was cleared. Tommy’s 50th IPD goal for Dundalk. We get a Pen in the 62nd minute – McCabe impeded by Fitzsimmons. Stevie Moore to take… 3-1, nice finish. Quite quiet after the 3rd, its seems to have subdued the opposition. We make it 4-1 deep into stoppages, Matty Burrows with a near-post header from an Astler cross. And we even have time for a fifth, Brian Connolly nipping in after a defensive error to fire home. It finishes 5-1 – a better second half.

16 points clear, 15 games left.

Geoff Astler has signed a new 3 year deal, hopefully stopping the vultures for a while as he looks like he’s going to be a special CWB.

Our U19’s beat Mullingar Athletic 5-1 in a friendly – goals from Jordan Kelly, Brian Stapleton, Kieron Hillman and a brace from Tim Foulkes.

Shamrock get a really good draw versus Derry, playing the last hour with 10 men. Limerick get a really good win versus St. Pat’s and come off the bottom of the table.

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

15th July 2026 – Valletta (MAL) (A) – UCL 1st Qual Rnd 2nd Leg

Ta’Qali, Valletta (Maltese National Stadium) – Capacity 17,797

FT Valletta 0 Dundalk 18 (Eighteen) (Behrenbeck 5, Mifsud o.g. 8, Duffy 10, 18, 34, pen 37, 82, 89, McGarvey 15, 25, 36, 63, 71, Dallas 17, Jenkinson 45, Collins 70, 87, 88) Att 430 (92 Away) – Dundalk win 25 (Twenty-Five)-0 on Aggregate.

We make the 1,600 mile journey to the Med to finish the tie versus Valletta. More goals please. 1-0, 5th minute, Dave Behrenbeck heading in an O’Malley corner. 2-0, 8th minute, O’Malley cracks the cross bar, the ball dribbles out, Bonello tries to clear, it hits the Keeper and goes in… Oggie. 3-0, 10th minute, Michael Duffy with the finish after a good break, Behrenbeck with the assist/final pass. 4-0, 15th minute, McGarvey with the header from a little chipped Seddon cross. We’ve also hit the woodwork 3 times – absolute domination. 5-0, 17th minute, David Dallas with a tap-in after O’Malley takes the ball to the byline. 6-0, 18th minute, Duffy with a back-post header from amn O’Malley cross. This could get very silly. 7-0, 25th minute, Big Col with a tap-in after an amazing ball over from Dallas. 8-0, 34th minute, Michael Duffy hat-trick, a back-post volley from a McGarvey cross. 9-0, 36th minute, McGarvey hat-trick, a nice back-post header from an O’Malley free kick. Penalty, 37th minute, McGarvey shoved by Cutajar. Duffy to take… 10-0, bottom left. 11-0, 45th minute, Jenks with a banger after nicking the ball off of a Valletta defender. 11-0 at the break (18-0 on aggregate) – We’ve also hit the woodwork 4 times… 12-0, 63rd minute, McGarvey’s 4th, a header from a Duffy corner. That’s his 100th goal for Dundalk 🙂 13-0, 70th minute, Collins with a tap-in from a lovely McGarvey pass. 14-0, 71st minute, McGarvey with his 5th, a tap-in after a gorgeous Collins headed flick-on. 15-0, 82nd minute, Duffy with his 5th as well – scrambling the ball over the line after a kerfuffle at a corner. 16-0, 87th minute, Tommy Collins with his 2nd, a nice finish from a McGarvey nod-down. 17-0, 88th minute, Collins hat-trick, a tap-in to an empty net after a mazy Duffy dribble and simple lay off pass. 18-0, 89th minute, Duffy double-hat-trick, heading in at the far post from a Jenks free kick. It finishes 18-0, 25-0 on aggregate. Think we’ve just broken a few records 🙂 And I’ve never had 2 players get 10’s in a game before.

We will be playing Zrinjski away in the 2nd Qual Round 1st Leg in 7 days after they beat TNS 6-3 on aggregate. Larne make it through as well.

I had a word with Steven, who then sacked his agent 🙂 And because of that I’ve offered Steven a 3-year contract 🙂 🙂 🙂 Love it.

18yo Striker Richie O’Sullivan has gone to Cabinteely on a free.

Some more IPD games – all as expected if you look at the table, St, Pat’s continue to drop points. Jim Collins gets 4 for Waterford – he’s coming on really well.

18th July 2026 – Limerick F.C. (H) – Irish Premier Division

FT Dundalk 4 (Collins 45, 57, 69, Moore pen 48) Limerick 1 (Curran 44) Att 3,841 (159 Away)

Limerick currently sit 2nd bottom – They had lost 6 in a row but beat St. Pat’s 3-2 last time out. I have recalled Vetle Dahl – he will get more game-time now. Pretty constant pressure from the lads early on, Limerick playing very defensively. Getting close to half time and we get sucker-punched out of nowhere – 1-0 Limerick, Curran with a tap-in after a break. FFS. But a great reply – 1-1 within a minute, Tommy Collins tapping-in from a corner as the ball falls nicely to him. 1-1 at the break. Penalty Dundalk, 48th minute, Astler fouled by old-boy Dan Cross. Stevie Moore to take. 2-1 Dundalk, another nicely taken penalty from the Centre Back. And Tommy makes it 3-1, a towering header from a Neil Hanna free kick. Tommy Collins gets his hat-trick in the 69th minute – a low volley from a lovely Dahl cross. It finishes 4-1, a good second half after being shouted at again 🙂

14 league games left.

Steven O’Malley has signed his new contract 🙂

Our U19’s beat Shels 3-0 – goals from Kevin O’Toole and a brace from Brian Smith.

And prior to the 2nd Qual Round 1st Leg we have the UCL 3rd Qual Round Draw.

So either FCSB (Beaten them before) or Slovan Bratislava. Neither should be particularly troublesome.

More IPD games – Derry with a good win versus Cork and St. Pat’s get a really good 3 points away at Shamrock Rovers. Athlone staying well above a point per game, their 8th win of the season versus Finn Harps.

Vetle Dahl & Tommy Colliins made the IPD Team of the Week.

Waterford slip-up against Limerick, who move to within 3 points of Shels. Dundalk Old-Boy Dan Cross with the goal.

Vetle Dahl has extended hois contract until the end of the Decade.

22nd July 2026 – Zrinjski (BIH) (A) – UCL Champions 2nd Qual Rnd 1st Leg

Stadion pod Bijelim Brijegom, Mostar, Capacity 25,000

We make the 1,320 mile journey to Bosnia & Herzegovina to face Bosnian Champions Zrinjski, victors 6-3 over TNS in the last round. Bosnia is not a playable league, but they have a few non-grey players.

FT Zrinjski 1 (Plakalo 19) Dundalk 4 (O’Malley 23, Behrenbeck 27, McGarvey 32, Morrison 51) Att 5,855 (25 Away)

Looking for another decisive victory – maybe not 25-0 on aggregate but a comprehensive victory nonetheless. A very quiet start – first highlight in the 16th minute. And shockingly Zrinjski go 1-0 up in the 19th minute – O’Malley flapping at a free kick and Plakalo first on the scene to tap in. We come back quickly – 1-1, 23rd minute, Steven O’Malley with a header at the back post from a Steve Seddon free kick. We make it 2-1 4 minutes later – Dave Behrenbeck with a near-post header from an O’Malley corner. Big Col makes it 3-1 in the 32nd minute, a cheeky finish after a few Zrinjski defensive errors. O’Malley with the assist. 3-1 at the break. 4-1, 51st minute, Liam Morrison with his 1st goal for the club; the same as the Zrinjski goal, mopping up after a flapped-attempt at a save from a Jenks free kick. Neco Williams pulls up with a groin strain… We end up taking a 4-1 win back to Co. Louth.

Slovan Bratislava take a 2-1 lead to Bucharest and Larne lose 3-0 to Shakhtar – a really nasty draw TBH. Shelbourne next up for us in 3 days.

We’ve had the FAI Cup 1st Round draw.

We play our affiliate and old-friends Cobh Ramblers (Currently 2nd in the First Division) at home.

A couple more League games played – Cork up to 2nd with a good win versus and obstinate Athlone side.

25th July 2026 – Shelbourne (A) – Irish Premier Division

FT Shelbourne 0 Dundalk 1 (Moore pen 2) Att 1,061 (576 Away)

Shelbourne come into this game with a W2 D1 L7 record in the last 10 games, including a 5-0 loss to Waterford last time out. Peno in the first minute – O’Callaghan too forceful in his challenge on Connolly. Stevie Morre to take… 1-0, Moore’s 6th goal of the season from DC. Ryan Corrigan, back for the first time this season after being at Luton is injured in the 7th minute – Potential Foot Injury. Astler on. A very disjointed half – 1-0 at the break. We have the bal in the net just before 70 minutes, but Collins was adjudged offside – Very debatable… And it stays 1-0. A win, but not a good one TBH.

17 points clear, 13 games left.

Ryan Corrigan out for a month with a twisted ankle…

St. Pat’s looking like they may miss out on Europe for the first time in 5 seasons – they have a lot to do having lost their 9th game of the season to Derry. Shamrock peg Waterford back with a 1-0 – who played 50 minutes with 10 men and the last 26 with 9.

Our U19’s beat Arklow 10-0 – goals from Josh Donnelly, a brace from Brian Smith, a hat-trick from Tommy Carlin and 4 from Barry O’Leary.

17yo Centre Back Rimvydas Romanovas has gone to Cobh Ramblers for the rest of the season.


18yo ML Ivan Milunovic comes in from Partizan Belgrade for £500k – One for the future, but the future is bright (Scout was a 77). Quick, can cross, great mentals for an 18yo. Welcome Ivan!

Geoff Astler made the IPD Team of the Week.

Shelbourne get a vital win to move them 5 points clear of the relegation places versus Athlone, who are slipping a bit now.

29th July 2026 – Zrinjski (BIH) (H) – UCL Champions 2nd Qual Round 2nd Leg

FT Dundalk 6 (McGarvey 22, 88, Duffy 28, pen 49, Jenkinson 59, Connolly 64) Zrinjski 1 (Stojanov 87) Att 4,333 (44 Away)

3 minutes in Steven O’Malley gets a tight calf… Connolly on, Duffy over to the right. Dundalk on top, but Zrinkjski are packing the middle – we are trying to go round the outside. And we take the lead in the 22nd minute – Big Col with his 21st goal of the season, a well-struck shot from 15 yards. Should have been 2-0 from the kick-off highlight, McGarvey missing an easier one than his goal. 2-0 6 minutes later – Michael Duffy with his 189th of the season – a nice volley at the back post from a Jenks free kick. 2-0 at the break. 49th minute – penalty Dundalk, Connolly tripped by Colic – Duffy to take… 3-0, well placed down the the Keeper’s left. Jenks pops up with a cracker to make it 4-0, a 25-yard curler 🙂 Connolly gets a lovely one of his own, 64th minute, 5-0, finishing crisply from a Seddon pass. Zrinjski get a consolation in the 87th minute, a nice finish from a good move, but Dundalk go straight back up the other end and make it 6-1 – Big Col slotting home after a horrible clearance and a nice Dallas through-ball. It finishes 6-1 on the night, 10-2 on aggregate. 35 goals in the first 4 qualifiers 🙂

We will be playing Slovan Bratislava, who beat FCSB 4-1 on aggregate. Larne out 5-0 on aggregate – they go into the Europa League Quallies. No real surprises, and celtic progress down the Best Placed qualifying route 8-2 versus Esbjerg.

That’s the end of a really good month of football for us.

Shamrock coming up in a few days before we host Slovan Bratislava – if we can get past them we will be looking at a UCL Play Off on the 19th and 26th of August. There’s a League Cup Semi versus U.C.D. somewhere in there as well.

Anything else to report in the last few days?

Steven O’Malley only out for a few days with a tight calf.

And we will be playing Slovan at the R.D.S. – interesting that the game has moved to using that rather than Tallaght Stadium – maybe our reputation is high enough to warrant it – would be nice to use the Aviva some day, or (Cover your ears GAA lovers) Croke Park.

Tommy Collins not happy about his game time – He’s played about 70% of the maximum he could have done since he came back. Might have to try and get a bit of money for him.

Finn Harps get a priceless win to go to within a point of Limerick, and Cork City are looking good for European qualification – 8 points clear of Shamrock in 5th but from 1 more game. Dundalker Sam McCabe with the goal.

And that’s that – See you next time for (hopefully) a 4th UCL Group Stage qualification in a row, and potentially being in Pot 3!

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