By Ed Leahy
St Patrick’s Athletic and Derry City took full advantage of league leaders Sligo Rovers’ postponed fixture and now only one point separates the top three sides.
The Bit O’Red are now only leading on goal-difference and know that they are in a proper title race facing a tricky trip to Limerick on Friday night.
Bray Wanderers also enjoyed a rare away win in Cork, while Shamrock Rovers added another draw to their season’s tally following Bohemians’ injury-time equaliser at Tallaght Stadium.
UCD also continued their recent good form with a well-earned draw with Limerick.
Team of the Week
Conor O'Donnell (UCD) The College custodian certainly had a busy night. While he could do little about Limerick's opener he made three big saves before the break to keep his side in touch.
Ger O'Brien (St Patrick’s Athletic) The Saints skipper led by example at Tolka Park on Friday night. Always willing to get forward and influence the play, O'Brien hurt Shelbourne constantly and nearly bagged a glorious first-half goal. An excellent full back, O'Brien is classy and consistent.
Simon Madden (Derry City) The right-back’s tussle with Drogheda’s Gavin Brennan was a key aspect of the game and the Candystripes defender won it hands down. The older of the Brennan siblings didn’t make his usual impact on the game and was booked for his troubles, while Madden was a steadying influence throughout in an otherwise shaky Derry defence.
Conor Kenna (St Patrick’s Athletic) The Saints centre-half is back to his best form and is a major factor in Liam Buckley’s side’s title challenge this year. Kenna was excellent against Shamrock Rovers in midweek and has struck up a fine partnership with the solid Kenny Browne in the middle of defence.
Kenna and the Saints defence enjoyed another flawless performance, keeping a clean sheet in Friday’s victory over Shelbourne.
Jason McGuinness (Shamrock Rovers) Back from fitness and very commanding in the centre of the Rovers defence. McGuinness has established a superb understanding with fellow centre-half Derek Foran and while Rovers are drawing lots of games, the strong defensive unit has ensured that they were not defeats. One thing that Trevor Croly has got right this season is his back five. And that is at least something that the Hoops can build on.
Ryan McEvoy (Bohemians) In an era of slim-pickings down Dalymount way, Ryan McEvoy always brings a spot of sunshine to every Bohemians performance. A cultured left-foot, McEvoy can pick a pass and is always dangerous from a set-piece. And the 22-year-old showed great composure to crash home the equaliser against rivals Rovers on Friday night to guarantee the point and cult-hero status amongst the Bohs faithful.
Kieran Waters (Bray Wanderers) Bray Wanderers’ flying wide attacker Marty Waters continually ran at the Cork defence, causing problems with his speed and scored two brilliant goals. Both in the second half, the goals were brilliantly finished. His first in the 67th minute, he ran at the home defence and fired a powerful shot to the Cork net. In the 90th minute, he attacked Cork from the other flank, before sending a well struck low shot past Mark McNulty from 15 yards.
Andy Mulligan (Bohemians) Caused plenty of problems down the left flank for the Rovers defence on Friday night, setting up several chances and working hard in a well-organised midfield. Mulligan should consider himself very unlucky to be penalised for giving away a penalty that has proved to be a very poor refereeing decision. Keith Buckley, Kevin Devaney and Shane Murray also impressed in the Bohs midfield.
Craig Curran (Limerick) The Limerick striker worked his socks off up top against UCD. Curran set up Axel Bossekota who should have scored just before half-time. The only blot on Curran's book was a late miss that would have given Limerick the points.
Christy Fagan (St Patrick’s Athletic) Two smashing goals in the third quarter from Fagan inspired St Patrick's Athletic to victory at Tolka Park. The first was a smashing header, the second was an opportunistic finish, and it was a real return to form for Fagan. The Saints need goals and Fagan is ready to provide them. The lively centre-forward also impressed in the midweek clash with Shamrock Rovers causing problems for the Hoops defence all evening.
Rory Patterson (Derry City) Drogheda’s Declan O’Brien looked set to be the hero of this match as he struck twice in a minute to draw his side level, but he was eclipsed on the night by two classy finishes from Patterson who was a constant danger to the uncertain Drogheda defence. Indeed, he could have had a hat-trick but fired wide in the dying moments of the game.