Welcome back to Dundalk for the start of my 9th season as a Manager, and 5th with Dundalk.
Athlone are first up, with a couple more league games and 2 cups (The President’s Cup should be against Cork City I think). And home games are at the Aviva until September, so it will be interesting to see what gates we get (Dundalk is 60 miles north of Dublin).
12th February 2027 – Athlone Town (A) – Irish Premier Division
FT Athlone Town 1 (Murphy 76) Dundalk 4 (McGarvey 7, 29, 43 Behrenbeck 18) Att x (x Away)
The first game of the season is often a tricky one – Athlone have only had 3 friendlies, winning 1 and drawing 2. Season preview has them 6th (Waterford 2nd with all our loanees!!!). Thier best player is their striker Jamie Maloney (58 scout rating). A slow start until the 7th minute, when Big Col opens his account for the season – a header, unmarked, from a Dallas corner. Athlone passing the ball around well. 2-0 in the 18th minute – Dave Behrenbeck with a lovely header from a Neco Williams cross. Good start lads. Col should have made it 3 soon after, missing an easy 1-on-1. Lots of space for the forwards. 3-0, 29th minute, Big Col with another header, same as his first, from a Dallas corner. Starting as we mean to go on, 3 goals, 3 headers. Could be 6 or 7 as we’ve missed some easy 1-on-1’s. But it’s 4-0 just before the break – Big Col with his hat-trick, a tap-in after a Colm McShane header rattles the woodwork. A great first 45 minutes of the season – 4-0 Dundalk at the break. A much quieter second half, as often happens after a one-sided first. Athlone get one back in the 76th minute – Des Murphy with a good header. It finishes 4-1.
Limerick get a great first-day win at Waterford, and Cobh get their first point back in the IPD at Tallaght Stadium versus Shamrock. St. Pat’s and Derry also get good wins. We play Derry in 4 days.
Season ticket sales up 20% on 2026. Would love that to get above 5,000 at some point soon.
Three of the lads, Neco, David Dallas and Big Col in the IPD Team of the Week.
16th February 2027 – Derry City (H – Aviva Stadium) – Irish Premier Division
FT Dundalk 3 (Burrows 18, Connolly 67, McShane pen 87) Derry City 1 (Hughes 33) Att 3,512 (195 Away)
Our opening ‘Home’ game at the Aviva versus a decent Derry side who finished 3rd last year. It feels like when Queen’s Park play at Hampden – 4,000 people get lost in such a large stadium. A quiet start. But it’s 1-0 Dundalk in the 18th minute, Matty Burrows scoring against his first club of his career, a nice 1-on-1 finish after being played in by Big Col. However Derry pull even in the 33rd minute – Peter Hughes with a speculative 20 yard shot past O’Malley, who should have saved it. Poor. 1-1 at the break – we are on top but need to break the Derry defence down. We continue on top and take the lead in the 67th minute – Brian Connolly finishing off a good move after a Colm McShane cross was only partly cleared. Last 10, could do with a 3rd to finish it off! And in the 87th minute we get a pen – Burrows bundled over by Brennan in a battle of the ‘B’s’. Mcshane to take… 3-1, slotted bottom right. Better. It finishes 3-1 – a good win against a decent side who will do well this season.
St. Pats and us are the only 6-pointers after 2 games as they win deep into injury time versus Athlone. Shamrock also win late at Limerick.Bosun Lawal gets the winner for Shelbourne versus Cobh and in an important game for Dundalk 3 of the 4 goals scored in the Cork v Waterford game are from Dundalkers (Carlin brace and Jim Collins), with Aidan Hamilton sent off as Waterford start with 2 losses. Cork City next up in the President’s Cup (Community Shield-a-like)
Winners of our Group in the UCL Schalke put to the sword by Atletico as Man City also get a decent 1st leg lead in the first of the UCL Knockout round games.
“Man City are rumoured to be interested in David Dallas”….
Real get a good win at home versus Man Utd and PSG sneak a 1-0 at RB Leipzig, playing most of the 2nd half with 10 men.
19th February 2027 – Cork City (N – Aviva Stadium) – President’s Cup
FT Dundalk 4 (Behrenbeck 5, 50, 86, Holloway 40) Cork City 1 (Poynton pen 53) Att 13,821 (4,224 Away)
We play a Cork City side that finished 2nd last season – they have a few Dundalk players who won’t be playing today. Our set-piece play gets us the lead early, Dave Behrenbeck with a steepling header from an O’Malley corner. Cork showing a bit of intent – not looking bad going forward. It’s 2-0 in the 40th minute – Joe Holloway volleying in an O’Malley free kick at the back post. 2-0 at the break. Almost 14,000 people in the Aviva today!!! Will be a gate record I should imagine. And we go 3-0 up in the 50th minute, Dave Behrenbeck again heading home an O’Malley corner, Keeper Ryan in no-man’s land. Cork get a ridculous penalty for nothing in the 53rd minute – Marchand with a perfectly fine sliding tackle on the edge of the area. Poynton takes and scores. A nice open game, good for neutrals. Dave Behrenbeck makes it 4 and his hat-trick-of-headers 4 minutes from time, from a Duffy corner. More silverware – it finishes 4-1.
Limerick & Cobh play out a 1-1 – ex Dundalker Dan Cross scoring for Limerick.
Bray beating Athlone and Wexford beating St. Pat’s are the shocks in the Leinster Senior Cup 4th round so far – we play Cabinteely next.
Hoping to break that a few times this season!
Longford beat Crumlin 2-0 in another Leinster Senior Cup 4th Round match.
Our U19’s beat Clonmel 7-1, goals from Cathal Wilson (2), Kevin O’Toole (2) and Brian Smith (3)
Bohemians beat Mayfield Utd 3-0 in another Leinster game.
Before the Cabinteely game we’ve had the Leinster Senior Cup Quarter Final draw…
Away to Shamrock – the only Premier Division team left (Apart from us)
Cork take all 3 points in the south-coast Derby versus 9-man Cobh.
Four of the lads (Dan, Neco, Colm & Matty) made the IPD Team of the Week.
23rd February 2027 – Cabinteely (A) – Leinster Senior Cup 4th Round
FT Cabinteely 0 Dundalk 3 (McShane 21, 34, pen 41) Att 1,133 (500 Away)
I’ve not played Cabinteely since my time at Cobh (Dundalk have only played them once this save, in 2019) – Season Preview has them expected to finish 9th in the First Division. They are playing a 4-2-2-2 2DM formation. It’s a much smaller surface compared to the Aviva so we take a few minutes to get into the groove. Colm McShane puts Dundalk 1-0 up in the 21st minute – a fine half-volley from a deep Jenks free kick. Cabo go down to 10 men in the 26th minute – Lynch for a lunge on 6ft 7in Robinson, who has drawn a ton of fouls so far. Colm McShane makes it 2 for him and 2 for Dundalk – another far-post finish, this time from a deflected Connolly pass-cum-cross. And he gets the chance to get a first-half hat-trick from the Penalty Spot after Robinson was pushed by Fitzpatrick. He steps up… 3-0, tucked just inside the right-hand upright. 3-0 at the break. 55th minute, Cabo down to 9, Wixted with a second yellow! It’s a bit scrappy after the 2nd sending off, Quinn making a number of saves for Cabinteely. We win 3-0.
Waterford next up in the league in our last game in February.
Porto still in their UCL First Knockout Round tie with Chelsea, but Roma, 2nd in our group, demolish Liverpool!
And to finish up the 1st legs Arsenal get a good win versus Barcelona with a 92nd minute winner, and Inter also win late at the the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon versus Benfica.
St. Pat’s maintain their perfect start to the season versus a Waterford side, who play us next, with Zero points.
More IPD matches – Cobh get another point, but again have a player sent off, and Shelbourne get a really good 3 points versus Derry.
Our U19’s beat Waterford Hibs 3-1, goals from Kieron Hillman and Barry O’Leary (2).
28th February 2027 – Waterford (A) – Irish Premier Division
FT Waterford 0 Dundalk 6 (Behrenbeck 3, 19, 42, McGarvey 7, 53, O’Malley 56) Att 1,452 (342 Away)
Waterford have had a shocker of a start to the season and will be without 5 of their best players as they are all Dundalk loanees (Jim Collins, Dom Halford, Martin Kenny, Brian Stapleton & Aidan Hamilton). It’s raining again today – Don’t think we’ve had a dry game yet this season. We have the ball in the net in the first minute, but Dave Behrenbeck was offside. We do go 1-0 up soon after – a superb break by Big Col, blasting down the right wing, pass to O’Malley, whose cross finds Dave Behrenbeck in acres, and he volleys home beautifully, leaving a smoking hole in the roof of the net. And Waterford’s season gets worse, just 7 gone, 2-0, Mcgarvey with an unmarked low-volley from 6 yards from an un-intercepted O’Malley corner. A great start. 3-0 in the 19th minute, Dave Behrenbeck with his 6th of the season, and his 50th league goal of his career! Hanna with a great ball to Mcgarvey, and his pass to Behrenbeck gives him a tap-in from 10 yards. And Dave get’s his hat-trick just before the break – a header from an o’Malley cross saved really well, but straight back into his path for a tap-in. 4-0 Dundalk at the break. Big Col makes it 5 8 minutes into the second half – finishing after a long Neco Williams bomb set him free. Steven O’Malley makes it 6 3 minutes later, a direct free kick from 20 yards. A demolition job. It finishes 6-0, the last 30 passed by without much of note.
A good start to the season!
Next month we have 6 games in 16 days until 19th March (And then an international break I should imagine) – 5 league games and the Leinster QF versus Shamrock. See you then!