Big Match Boys – #FM20 OS8 C2 S4 – Part 82 – Dundalk – End of Season (Nov/Dec) 2026

Our Big match boys we will be leaning heavily on – Big Col, Big Tommy and Steven O’Malley

Welcome back to Co. Louth for the end of another successful season, my 4th with Dundalk.

Five matches left, though 3 of them are in the first 11 days of the month.

First up the normal monthly happenstances.

We had a 1-2-3 in the IPD Player of the Month – Colm McShane winning, followed by Tommy Collins & Neil Hanna.

I win IPD Manager of the month.

Our U19’s lost 3-1 to Roma, Youth triallist Shane Burke with the goal.

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

In the Relegation from/Promotion to the IPD playoffs Bray Wanderers (3rd) play Longford (4th) – winners play Bohemians (2nd), winners of that play Limerick (9th in the IPD) – The winner of that will be playing in the IPD next season.

3rd November 2026 – Roma (ITA) (A) – UCL Group D Matchday 4

FT – Roma 4 (Arezo 12, Under 34, Basilla 45+3, Pellegrini 75) Dundalk 2 (Collins 16, 81) Att 61,771 (47 Away)

Roma lost their last game to Genoa 2-0 and are currently 11th in Serie A – however I’m not expecting too much TBH as its so difficult away from home in these games. And in the early game Schalke beat Ajax 2-0… Not ideal but as long as we don’t lose to Schalke and get the same points as them we will finish above them on head-to-head. You never know, we could even beat Ajax 🙂 In the 2nd minute Big Col hits the base of the post from a corner… We are on top in the first 10 but from nowhere Roam take the lead – a 20 yarder from Arezo, O’Malley with flappy hands. Geoff Astler picked up a bruised knee before the goal – will get him to half time. We look really good going forward. ANd we equalise 4 minutes later – Steven O’Malley stealing a poor pass, galloping on before a short pass gives Tommy Collins a near-post stab-in. 1-1! Tommy Collins now with a bruised shin – looks like the archetypal Italian niggly tackles going in. Roma go back in the lead, 34th minute, Under with a well hit shot from wide right of the penalty box. And in Fergie time at the end of the half Basila gets a header from another fucking set piece. Bullshit. 3-1 Roma at the break. Nothing much until the 75th minute, where Pellegrini scrores a Direct Free Kick, because of cause he does. 4-1. We make it 4-2 in the 81st minute, Collins finishing off after Brian Connelly makes a great tackle and surged forward. But that’s that – 4-2.

Barcelona struggling again this season. We will need to get results now versus Ajax at home and versus Schalke in Germany. The First Leg of the All-Ireland Champions Cup versus Larne is in 5 days.

We’ve had 11 players called up for the November internationals.

Celtic get a great point at home to Liverpool, but no other shocks.

Four more U21’s called up for the Internationals.

8th November 2026 – Larne (H) – All-Ireland Champions Cup Final 1st Leg

FT Dundalk 6 (Connolly 2, 46, 51, Hanna 17, McShane 41, Collins pen 85) Larne 1 (Hurford-Lockett 66) Att 4,500 (225 Away)

Larne currently have a wage bill of £5.36M/annum – Linfield are 2nd in the Danske bank Premiership with £915k. Sugar Daddy. We have a wage bill of £4.82M, Athlone second with £2.01M, Shamrock 3rd with £985k. We go 1-0 up in the 2nd minute – Connolly with a tap-in at the back post after missed headers in the middle from a Dan Haworth cross. Dundalk on top early. 17th minute, Neil Hanna gets one that will be up for the Puskas award – his scissor-kicks a clearance from a Seddon corner from 20 yards out top bins, Yeboah-esque power. 2-0 Dundalk. Hanna is up for this one! Spriniting all over the place and getting involved. And Larne go down to 10 in the 37th minute – Murray for a 2nd yellow, hacking McShane after being dispossessed by him. 3-0 Dundalk 4 minutes later, Colm McShane with a banger from just inside the right-corner of the area across the Keeper after a beautiful team passing move; assist for Jake Taylor. 3-0 at the break. 45 seconds into the second half and it’s 4 – acres of space for Brian Connolly to thunder a shot home from just inside the area after a Seddon pass. And he gets his hat-trick and 14th of the season 5 minutes later – this time a nice close-in finish from a Taylor pass after another fine team move against a flagging Larne side. And that’s Brian’s 50th goal for Dundalk 🙂 Larne get a goal back from Hurford-Lockett in the 66th minute – a decent pass splitting the Dundalk back line. We get a penalty 5 minutes from time – Dave Behrenbeck caught by Kelly – Collins to take… 6-1 – his 29th of the season. We take a 5-goal lead to the Antrim cost for the 2nd leg in 3 days time.

We’ve had some of the kids playing in the U21 internationals. Rimvydas Romanovas played in Lithuania U21’s 1-1 draw with Malta and Tommy Carlin, Sam McCabe and Aidan Hamilton played in N. Ireland U21’s 0-0 with Serbia.

And we’ve done it again – Jenks now with us until the end of 2027!!! It will be his 5th season with us on loan.

11th November 2026 – Larne (A) – All-Ireland Champions Cup Final 2nd Leg

FT Larne 3 (Stewart 43, Adair 49, Roberts 63) Dundalk 2 (McCabe 36, Duffy 40) Att 1,768 (505 Away) – Dundalk wins 8-4 on Aggregate

A fully rotated side goes to the Antrim coast this evening – Larne are in the Conference League at the moment interestingly, something none of the IPD teams could manage, but the are D1 L3, with Astana (L2), Beitar Jerusalem (L1) and HJK Helsinki (D1) in their group. We have 8 of the 1st-team squad out on international duty, but the team we have out should do well. We start strongly again – McShane with a good chance as a makeshift Pressing Forward. Nothing much happens until the 36th minute, when Chris McCabe score a belter after a great Dundalk move, assist from Steven O’Malley. Micahel Duffy makes it 2 – a volley at the rear post from a McCabe cross. Larne get back to 2-1 2 minutes before half time, Stewrat with a good shot from range, but again O’Malley should have done better. Larne pushing at the end of the half but we go in 2-1 up. Larne equalise in the 49th minute – another long range effort, this time from Adair. In the 58th minute Larne go down to 10 for the 2nd game in a row – Stewart with a second yellow. But this doesn’t stop them taking the lead with yet another long shot – Roberts with the goal. How are we going to lose this fucking game? It finishes 3-2 larne, but 8-4 Dundalk on aggregate. More silverware.

We have a 2-week break now until Ajax at the R.D.S., followed by Schalke in Gelsenkirchen in the final game of our 2026 season 6 days later.

We’ve had some of the lads playing in the internationals – Vetle Dahl played in Norway U21’s 2-0 win over Hungary, and in Senior football Neco Williams played in Wales’ 5-0 loss to France and the Northern Irish brigade (David Dallas, Matty Burrows, Neil Hanna, Tommy Collins, Stevie Moore & Colin McGarvey played in their 2-0 win over Liechtenstein – Goals from Burrows (His first senior gaol) and Collins (His 4th).

And the day after Jim Collins and Evan O’Donovan played in Ireland U21’s 3-1 win over Slovakia.

More internationals – Rimvydas Romanovas played in Lithuania U21’s 4-1 win over Andorra, Neco Williams played in Wales’ 2-0 win over Romania and David Dallas, Matty Burrows, Neil Hanna, Stevie Moore & Colin McGarvey played in N. Ireland’s 2-0 win over Kosovo.

The improved training facilities really seem to be helping the lads (With a sprinkling of first team football) – Dan Haworth one of many of the kids showing big improvements (Had these news items for Matty Burrows, Geoff Astler, Neil Hanna and David Dallas in recent times)

And Joe Holloway played in Ireland U21’s 2-2 draw with Slovakia – They win 5-3 on aggregate and go to the U21 European Champs next summer. Vetle Dahl will also be there with Norway.

Our ‘U19’s’ beat Manulla 11-0 – goals from Tommy Carlin, Tim Foulkes, Braces from Ger Ryan, Matty Burrows and Tommy Collins, and a hat-trick from Barry O’Leary.

We’ve had the first leg of the IPD promotion/Relegation playoff. Firstly though Longford beat Bray 5-3 on aggregate to get to play Bohemians. Bohs won that 3-1 on aggregate, meaning Bohs play Limerick.

And Limerick are in charge with a 4-1 win in Dublin. Ex-Dundalker Dan Cross with the 4th goal.

I’ve signed Chris McCabe for 2 more years – He’s just so useful to have around as a D(RLC), especially as Steve Seddon might be off, meaning I’ll need to sign another left wing-back.

David Dallas will most probably be out of the Ajax game due to Food Poisoning – That’s what happens if you go to AbraKebabra!

Limerick stay in the IPD for another season, losing 3-2 on the night but winning 6-4 on aggregate – squeaky bums as they played the 2nd half with 10 men but they saw off a Bohs team who have now lost in the playoffs for the past 6 seasons, after we beat them 4-3 when I was with Cobh Ramblers in 2021 to send them down – the Sammon, Evans and Costelloe show as it was then 🙂 We will now start getting the end of season news items.

£275k paid out in bonuses to the lads.

Neil Hanna (3 goals, 13 Assists, 7.62) wins the IPD Player of the Year, Jim Collins 2nd (19 goals, 3 assists, 7.32), Matty Burrows 3rd (12 goals 7 assists 7.25). Exactly the same order for the Young Player of the Year.

Jim Collins wins the golden boot, Tommy Collins (No relation) 2nd with 17 goals, Jamie Maloney (Athlone) 3rd with 16.

Jonny Devlin was IPD Keeper of the Year with 16 clean sheets in 27 appearances, conceding just 12 goals. he also wins the Personality of the year award thing, whatever that is.

We only got 4 players into the IPD team of the year – Brian Connolly, Neil Hanna, Colm McShane and Matty Burrows – Though Sam McCabe (Cork) and Jim Collins (Waterford) are technically Dundalk players.

The Tuesday night football on UCL Match Day 5. Celtic looking to secure 3rd in Group A and get Europa League knockout football in Spring 2027.

We are one of the two early games on the Wednesday – lets go.

25th November 2026 – Ajax (NED) (H – R.D.S.) – UCL Group D Matchday 5

FT Dundalk 1 (Collins 20) Ajax 2 (Dest 45, Nijland 53) Att 11,593 (3,242 Away)

We will have to fo very well to get anything out of this evening, but if we do that puts Ajax under a lot of pressure in their final game versus Roma. Ajax in their Camoflage away kit. An open start, Ajax with a good chance, then Tommy Collins saved by the Ajax Keeper. Dundalk go 1-0 up in the 20th minute – The big man Tommy Collins heading home a Neco Williams cross at the near post. Not much you can do versus a 6ft 8in behemoth 🙂 His 30th of the season. Kickoff highlight… Nothing doing. An even game. But just before half time it’s 1-1 – Dest with a shot across the Keeper. Bollocks. 1-1 at the break. They take the lead in the 53rd minute – Nijland with a good finish – we’re just not quite good enough at this level. We keep on pressing, but where they score our chances are saved. Time runs down, and its a 2-1 loss.

And with that we will need to beat Schalke to get 3rd as they beat Roma to go onto 7 points. We also (I Think) need Ajax to get a point as they have a better head-to-head against us. We wil give it a bloody good go. Missing result above is Dortmund 3 Young Boys 0. Massive wins for Barcelona and Chelsea.

13 days until the Schalke game on 8th December.

Our U19’s also lose 2-1 to Ajax, Sean Brennan with the goal. They can’t qualify for the knockout stages now.

We tick into December, so the transfer markets open.

NEW SIGNING (1st January 2027)

19yo N. Ireland U21 international Jamie Robinson comes in from Ballymena on a 2-year deal. Tommy Collins Mk2, 6ft 7in poacher, very similar indeed to Tommy. Should be interesting to see him develop. Also 2-footed and Resolute!!

Our U19’s finished their UCL campaign beating Schalke 2-1 – goals from Jamie Forde and Dave Behrenbeck.

8th December 2026 – Schalke 04 (GER) (A) – UCL Group D Matchday 6

VELTINS-Arena, Gelsenkirchen , Capacity 62,271

We make the short up, less than 600 miles, to Western germany to play Schalke this evening – Europa League Knockout qualification is possible still I believe, so we will be giving the game a good old go.

FT Schalke 04 5 (Stengs pen 13, 66, Ansah 28, Oesterhelweg 83, 90+1) Dundalk 1 (Collins 67) Att 49,439 (173 Away)

Schalke come into this in 7th in the Bundesliga – in the last 7 games they’ve only won in the UCL – 3 losses and 2 draws in the League. They are playing a narrow formation, so I’ll do the usual and try and stretch them wide. But on Schalke’s first attack they get a penalty – Haworth dragging down Ansah… 1-0 Schalke, Stengs with the penalty. They go 2-0 up in the 28th – Ansah with a decent header. 2-0 at the break, really disappointing. 3-0 in the 66th, Stengs with a header from a corner. The boys have not turned up. But we get 1 back from the kickoff highlight – Tommy Collins finishing on the volley from a Duffy cross after a good counter. And 5 minutes later Duffy hits the post. But we are not picking the ball up when it goes free, and Schalke go 4-1 up – Oesterhelweg with a good finish. And he also gets a 5th – just really not very good defending. 5-1 Schalke, season over.

Schalke top the group, Roma 2nd, Ajax 3rd, all with 10 points.

A poor end to the season – Our level is most probably Europa League, but if we keep qualifying for the UCL we need to somehow get into that 3rd pot to give ourselves a good shot every year. See you next time for the Post Season 2026, Pre Season 2027.

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