Group Stages Again? – #FM20 OS8 C2 S4 – Part 79 – Dundalk – August 2026

Once more unto the breach?

Welcome back to Dundalk for another action-packed month at the pinnacle of Irish domestic football.

Not too many monthly bits to report. Jim Collins (Currently at Waterford) came 2nd in the IPD player of the month.

We have £41.4M in the bank.

Our U19’s beat Longford 3-1, goals from Neill McGuirk, Kevin O’Toole & Brian Smith.

David Dallas out of the next 2 games with a bruised thigh – that’s Shamrock & the Slovan Bratislava home leg.

I’m back at A- with the board – they didn’t like spending £500k on Milunovic apparently.

Dynamics are Very Good/Excellent/Excellent

2nd August 2026 – Shamrock Rovers (H) – Irish Premier Division

FT Dundalk 1 (Duffy pen 90) Shamrock Rovers 0 Att 4,500 (225 Away)

New signing Milunovic starts on the left wing this evening. Shamrock are in better form now – They are through to the Conference League Best Places 3rd Qual Rnd (V Levski Sofia (BUL)) after beating Bangor City of Wales 5-2 on aggregate. Derry City went out on pens to LASK Linz (AUT) – a creditable result over 2 legs, and St. Pat’s went out 3-2 on aggregate to Sheriff Tiraspol (MLD) – So only us and Shamrock still in Europe from the Republic. The Dundalk boys looking good early, some nice flowing moves. Shamrock look shattered, but its 0-0 at the break. We’re really pushing for the lead, but Shamrock are throwing everything in the way of the ball. 69th minute – Shamrock sub Conor Moore gets a straight Red for a lunge on Vetle Dahl. 10 left, just doesn’t feel like anything we do will get us a goal this evening. But in the last minute we get a penalty – Steve Seddon fouled by Dummigan. Duffy to take… 1-0, professional pen from our talisman. We win 1-0.

Derry drop points versus Limerick, and St. Pat’s move to within 2 points of Shamrock with 11 games left for them. We host Slovan Bratislava next at the RDS.

Before the UCL Champions 3rd Qualifying Round 1st Leg we have the Playoff draw – in which we are the 2nd seeds (After Slavia Prague), so will get a pot 2 team. Chances are we will get someone we’ve played before such is the pot of teams.

No – its either HJK or Shakhtar. Shakhtar have a big old wage bill, HJK a fair bit smaller than us. Would still bet on us, but that’s a potential tough one. And we’ve got to get by Slovan first. Our Scouts have SLovan a fair way off our squad, so hoping they are right.

Steve Seddon & Jenks made the IPD team of the week.

5th August 2026 – Slovan Bratislava (SVK) (H – The R.D.S.) – UCL Champions 3rd Qual Round 1st Leg

FT Dundalk 3 (Simunovic o.g. 2, McGravey 50, 55) Slovan Bratislava 1 (Mensah pen 14) Att 7,505 (66 Away)

Slovan were having a perfect season until losing 3-2 last time out to Ruzomberok. Dundalk on the front foot from the start. We take the lead in the 2nd minute, and it’s unfortunate – Simunovic credited with the Own goal, McGarvey’s header crashed against his shin and went in. But completely against the run of play Slovan get awarded a penalty – Soler being held by Jenks… Mensah tucks the penalty away. 1-1. End to end stuff after the equaliser, plus their Keeper has made some good saves. 1-1 at the break. We take the lead 5 minutes into the 2nd half – McGarvey finishing off after a few blocks, lastly from Jenks. And Big Col makes it 3-1 5 minutes after that, slamming home the loose ball after a corner makes its way into the area without impedance. Better. Time ticks down, and it ends up 3-1. Hopefully should be enough.

Most of the games with everything to play for in the 2nd leg – HJK with a 2-2 versus Shakhtar. We have a cheeky little League Cup Semi versus lower-division opponents before we travel to Slovakia for the 2nd leg.


Jason Knight off to Eastern Turkey for £750k (He came in on a Free) – He’s a 65 with the Scouts and just wasn’t getting game time. A decent sale.

Loads of sniffing-around from (mainly) English clubs for my best guys, plus a £1M offer for Dave behrenbeck – started offering better contracts to head this off.


Ryan Corrigan off to MK Dons for the season.

Colin McGarvey might be out of the second leg with a bruised thigh…

Waterford slipping down the table – now 4th after losing at St. Pat’s. Shelbourne get 3 massive points in a 6-pointer versus Limerick and Derry go 3rd, just a point behind Cork with a good 3-1 win versus Athlone.

Our U19’s beat Athlone 6-0 – goals from Kevin Mulligan (Non Player), Jamie Forde, Ian Gannon (Non Player) and a hat-trick from Kevin O’Toole.

9th August 2026 – U.C.D. (H) – League Cup Semi Final

FT Dundalk 3 (Burrows 8, Taylor 30, Connolly 43) U.C.D. 0 Att 4,299 (24 Away)

U.C.D. sit 5th in the First Division with 7 games left – Just 3 points between the top 4. Dundalk start strongly, just a lack of Composure stopping us scoring. We do go 1-0 up in the 8th minute – Matty Burrows with a tap-in from a Connolly low pass/cross. Luca Gratzer in the U.C.D. net has made some superb saves, but we go 2-0 up in the 30th minute – Jake Taylor with a nice finish after being played in by Connolly. Two minutes before the break Connolly makes it 3 – bundling in a goal-mouth scramble after a Taylor header. 3-0 at the break. Geoff Astler picks up another injury – potential foot – so McCabe comes on. Time runs down – a very boring half. It Finishes 3-0 – Another domestic final beckons. Limerick play Bray tomorrow in the 2nd Semi.

Geoffrey Astler – Twisted Ankle – 3/4 weeks. Bugger. The UCL 3rd Qual Round 2nd leg is in 3 days.

Neco Williams has signed until the end of the decade – £6k/week.

A few more IPD games – All teams winning that you would expect, but it took a Dom Halford 91st minute goal for Waterford to beat Athlone.

And we will be playing Limerick in the League Cup Final after they beat Bray in extra time. This is scheduled for 19th September.

Norbert – Nice to see the Hungarian Supporters Club taking an Interest. Ruby – That’s the spirit 🙂 Jonny – Go Home!

On the Morning of the 2nd Leg David Behrenbeck signs until the end of the Decade as well – £7.5k/Week but not release clause 🙂 If any of this big boys want him they are going to have to pay the big bucks.

12th August 2026 – Slovan Bratislava (SVK) (A) – UCL Champions 3rd Qual Round 2nd Leg

Tehelné pole – Bratislava, Capacity 22,500

We make the 1,100 mile journey to Bratislava with a 2-goal cushion to play Slovan, with a place in the Playoff at stake. And essentially £13M! Slovan won their game at the weekend 3-1. Let’s get a goal and put this to bed early.

FT Slovan Bratislava 1 (Grman 27) Dundalk 4 (Collins 16, 39, Behrenbeck 35, Connolly 89) Att 15,644 (25 Away) – Dundalk wins 7-2 on Aggregate.

Big Col is on the bench after his bruised thigh should he be needed. A decent, open start. But it’s a defensive mistake that puts us 1-0 up and 4-1 on aggregate. Steve Seddon (Who has tweaked his back – bloody left-backs) knocked a ball over the top, Simunovic intercepts but an attempted backpass was horrible, and Tommy Collins nipped in to but us 3-goals clear. It’s another mistake that brings Bratislava level. A free kick comes in, Grman heads, but O’Malley is completely out of position, and it dribbles in. We go back in front in the 35th minute – Dave Behrenbeck with a nice headed finish from a Jenks cross, celebrating his new contract. And 4 minutes later its 3-1 (6-2) – Tommy Collins with a lovely shot from 25 yards, just inside the left-hand post. 3-1 at the break. The second half is a bit quieter – Dundalk very much on top though. We go 4-1 up in the 89th minute, Connolly with a tap-in after a really nice move. It ends 4-1 (7-2) – A great away win versus a decent side.

We will be facing Shakhtar in the Playoff – Win and it’s UCL group football again, Lose and it’s Europa League. I’d still bet on us winning, they snuck past HJK 3-2 on aggregate. Celtic are through to the Best Placed Playoffs, but Hearts go out 5-3 to PSV. Our friends Cobh Ramblers next up in the FAI Cup 1st Round.


Jordan Kelly off to Wrexham (League One) for £240k. He’s only a 37 Scout Rating now and has dropped off a lot in the past 6 months. A decent sale.

The first FAI Cup 1st Round games have been played – No shocks.

We’ve replaced our DoF with a better one – Christoph Freund (AUT) – 18 Judging Ability, 16 Potential!!! Ex Director of Football of RB Salzburg!

15th August 2026 – Cobh Ramblers (H) – FAI Cup 1st Round

FT Dundalk 3 (Carlin 53, Connolly 76, McShane 85) Cobh Ramblers 0 Att 2,735 (37 Away)

Cobh are currently 2nd in the First Division with 7 games left and are our affiliate. It’s a quiet start, we’ve rotated a lot so I’d expect it would take a bit of time to gel. 5 minutes from half time and Cobh go down to 10 – Agnew for a two-footed lunge on Tommy Carlin. 0-0 at the break. Milunovic off after 5 minutes in the 2nd half with pulled knee ligaments… We take the lead in the 53rd minute – Tommy Carlin with the finish after great harrying by Matty Burrows and an unselfish pass. We keep pressing the 10 men, but Higgins (as per normal) is having a great game. However we go 2-0 up in the 76th minute – Connolly finishing well across the Keeper from a nice Haworth pass from deep. We’ve also hit the woodwork 3 times today. And Colm McShane seals the deal, 85th minute, a great header from a Connolly cross. 3-0 Dundalk. And that’s how it finishes.

No shocks, but it did take penalties for Cork to beat Crumlin Utd.

Milunovic out for a few weeks with pulled knee ligaments.

The last of the FAI Cup 1st round games – no real shocks, Shamrock taking penalties to beat Waterford. He make the trip to Donetsk in the next couple of days – They are unbeaten this season so far (8 games). And they have a 32-yo Ross Barkley at No. 10. They have some good players, but from a limited pool

And our U19’s beat St. Mochtas 2-0 – goals from Jamie McGrath & Tim Foulkes.

We’ve had the FAI Cup 2nd Round Draw.

Finn Harps at home – Not too bad.

Ivan Milunovic is going back to Serbia on loan – He joins Napredak of the Super league – hopefully he will get plenty of game time.

18th August 2026 – Shakhtar (UKR) (A) – UCL Champions Playoff 1st Leg

Donbass Arena, Donetsk – Capacity 51,504

We make the 1,620 mile journey to the Ukraine to play a decent Shakhtar side. IRL this stadium hasn’t been used since 2014 due to the conflict with Russia – They currently play home games in Kyiv at the Olympic Stadium, sharing with Dynamo.

FT Shakhtar 2 (Barkley 4, Zirkzee 36) Dundalk 1 (Jenkinson 32) Att 35,537 (27 Away)

Shakhtar start as 6-4 favourites this evening. Let’s get a good result and bring them back to Dublin with them having to beat us. A bit nervous TBH. And Shakhtar take th elead in the 4th minute, Ross Barkley from 25 yards – O’Malley should have done better. Shakhtar on top, but its quite tight. And we get back in it, 32nd minute, Jenks with a well-struck finish after a nice move and cut-back by Big Col. 1-1. Better. But Shakhtar go back into the lead 5 minutes later – Zirkzee with the header after we failed to clear a number of times. 2-1 Shakhtar at the break. It’s a quiet second half – Tommy Collins missing a simple header the first highlight of note on the 70th minute. Time runs down, we lose 2-1 – At least we have the away goal. The stats show we’ve been slightly FM’d.

All pretty tight apart from the Porto v Charleroi tie in the Best Placed Playoffs. We have Athlone in the IPD before the 2nd leg in 8 days.

APOEL played Kobenhavn on the Wednesday for some reason – a 1-1 draw means all the Champions playoffs are poised for the 2nd legs.

21st August 2026 – Athlone Town (H) -Irish Premier Division

FT Dundalk 3 (Collins pen 35, 41, Dahl 38) Athlone Town 0 Att 3,755 (32 Away)

Looking to bounce back with a win versus 7th placed Athlone. A tight first period, with Athlone very defensive. We get a penalty in the 35th minute – Tommy Collins pushed by Maloney. And he steps up to take it himself… 1-0, slotted home. And 3 minutes later it’s 2-0, and what a goal – an absolute screamer for Vetle dahl – his first for the club!! a 20 yarder into the roof of the net, McShane with the assist. And Tommy Collins makes it 3 goals in 6 minutes with a fine headed finish from a McShane cross. 3-0, 41 minutes gone. 3-0 Dundalk at the break. The second half goes off without much to discuss – quite disjointed – but the work was done in the 1st Half. We win 3-0.

An odd day, with only us and Derry winning out of the top 6. Limerick , Finn Harps and Shelbourne all picking up massive wins. 15 points clear, Derry have 24 to play for. Right, Shakhtar next – a game that is worth about £12M to us! That said the Europa League would be fun to have a crack at…

Our “U19’s” beat Rockmount 10-0 – a hat-trick from Barry O’Leary and 7 (Seven) from Tommy Carlin.

One of our scouts has gone to Derby.

Shamrock need to start winning to get into Europe next season – They went out of the Conference league 4-1 on aggregate to Levski.

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

FC Kobenhavn make it to the UCL Group stages, beating APOEL 3-1 on aggregate.

And Jonny Devlin has been called up to the U.S.A. U23’s squad for games at the start of September.

We’ve signed another scout, Joe Monks, from Colchester – Judging PA 19 Judging PP 17!!!

26th August 2026 – Shakhtar (H) – UCL Champions Playoff 2nd Leg

FT Dundalk 1 (Behrenbeck 84) Shakhtar 0 Att 7,716 (235 Away) 2-2 on Aggregate, Dundalk win on Away Goals.

Shakhtar won their game at the weekend 2-0 versus Vorskla – We need to be the first team to beat them this season to go through to the UCL Group stages. Will be relying on my big-game players. Really quiet early but we get a succession of highlights from 20 minutes onwards, just unable to get the ball over the line. On top in the first half, but we go in 0-0. The second half proceeds in the same vein – Dundalk on top, just can’t put the ball away. We enter the last 10. And the absolute #SCENES – Goal Dundalk!! 84th minute, Dave Behrenbeck, on for Collins heads home a beauty from an O’Malley whipped cross. 1-0 on the night, 2-2 on aggregate but winning on Away goals as it stands. And he has the opportunity to give us a cushion in the last minute but shoots wide. Hope that doesn’t come back to bite us… 4 minutes of stoppage time. Last few seconds, Shakhtar pushing… Zirkzee offside. AND IT’S ALL OVER – We go through on away goals – Dave Behrenbeck’s goal worth over £10M to us 🙂

RB Salzburg, Legia, PSV and Charleroi join Shakhtar in the Europa League draw. Let’s see what pot we are in this season.

We now have £54.7M in the bank 🙂 🙂 🙂

OK – We have Finn Harps in the FAI Cup 2nd Round in 3 days, and that rounds out a mad August. There’s an International break after that game so no League game until 11th September so we can put a strong team out.

If we end the season today The Republic of Ireland would be 14th in the Coefficients – enough to get another Champions League Qually spot, and that we wouldn’t start until the 3rd Qual Round. plus 1 of the 3 Conference league spots would start in the Europa Qualifiers.

Bugger – we’re in Pot 4 again…

Definitely not Group A! C, D or G Please – Would like to think we’d have a shot at getting 3rd off of Fenerbache. Or even Celtic in Group E.

Not too bad! We’bve gotten points of both Ajax and Roma before and will give Schalke a game!

Celtic with a shout of getting out of the group. Our first game is Ajax away on 15th September. Scahlke Away is our last game – could be for the Europa League spot – could even be for UCL Knockouts as it was last season!

Thirteen more players called up for the Internationals at the start of September – Nice to see Neco Williams called up for Wales!

The first FAI Cup 2nd Round games have been played – the only shock being Wexford beating Shelbourne 3-1. Limerick needed a stoppage time goal to beat Cabinteely.

29th August 2026 – Finn Harps (H) – FAI Cup 2nd Round

FT Dundalk 6 (McGarvey 11, 56, 62, Jenkinson pen 25, Behrenbeck 39, Duffy pen 47) Finn Harps 0 Att 2,797 (93 Away)

Our last game before the international break – lets make it a good one! And we go 1-0 up in the 11th minute, Big Col slotting one away after a pass from O’Malley. Dundalk very much on top, and we get a penalty in the 25th minute – McGlynn impeded McGarvey. Jenks to take… 2-0, well struck. Morrison has the ball in the Finn Harps net soon after, but he Maradona’d it. Disallowed. We get the 3rd in the 39th minute, that man Dave behrenebck with another beautiful header, this time from a Williams cross. 3-0 at the break. Michael Duffy on at half time, and within 90 seconds he wins a penalty – Coleman’s tackle adjudged to have been unfair. He takes it himself… 4-0, lovely placement, right in the corner. Big Col makes it 5 with his 2nd of the game, a nicely placed finish after a great team move, the assist from Behrenbeck, a nice head down for Col to stroke home. And he gets his hat-trick and 27th of the season with a towering header at the back post from an O’Malley corner. 6-0. And that’s how it finished.

No shocks.

And that’s that for the first-team games this month.

Our U19’s beat Bluebell Utd 6-0 – goals from Ger Ryan, Tim Foulkes and 4 from Colm McShane.

We’ve had the FAI Cup Quarter Final Draw.

Cork City at home – tough(ish). And with that we have our fixtures for next month.

The Cork cup game is our next match, with Ajax 3 days later. We also have a league Cup Final somewhere in there 🙂

See you next time for our 4th season in the UCL Group stages in a row 🙂

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