by Ed Leahy
Jason Byrne continues to display his prolific goalscoring talent and chipped in with another four league goals on Saturday in Bray Wanderers’ 5-4 victory over UCD.
Byrne has now passed the 200-league-goal mark and only one person stands in his way of becoming the all-time leading goalscorer in the League of Ireland.
Brendan Bradley scored 235, so a few more weekend’s like the one just passed and Byrne could well be making his way to the top of that particular table before retirement sets in.
St Pat’s have continued their remarkable run in their push for the title with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Limerick on Saturday at Richmond Park. Saints are now seven points clear of the champions, six in front of Derry and a long way ahead of the rest.
Shamrock Rovers form, however, continues to improve and the Hoops recorded a very impressive victory over Cork City at Turner’s Cross on Sunday afternoon. That’s four wins in their last four matches in all competitions for Trevor Croly’s side.
Owen Heary returned to the Bohs side to face champions Sligo Rovers and the experienced defender helped the Gypsies to their first clean sheet in 14, while Ian Baraclough’s Sligo have now gone four games without a goal. Has second-season syndrome kicked in at The Showgrounds?
Derry, on the other hand, are keeping their title chase right on track and edged out struggling Shelbourne at Tolka Park.
The final game of the international weekend saw Louth’s finest come face-to-face at Hunky Dorys Park and Patrick Hoban’s goal settled the contest as Dundalk took the bragging rights home on Monday evening.
Team of the Week
Peter Cherrie (Dundalk)
Another clean sheet for the Lilywhites on Monday night as Dundalk won again on the road. Before Patrick Hoban scored the winner, Cherrie produced an outstanding reaction save to block Gary O’Neill’s overhead effort to keep the game scoreless. Cherrie has been one of the most consistent keepers this season and is a very valuable asset for Stephen Kenny’s side as they push for European football next season.
Simon Madden (Derry City)
One of the best attacking full backs in the League Madden was bright at Tolka Park for Derry City on Saturday. Delivered some testing crosses too during a dynamic display.
Ian Bermingham (St Patrick’s Athletic)
Solid at left full since the start if the season Bermingham is a key player for the Saints. Like Ger O'Brien on the right Bermingham always wants to push on from the left and was effective against Limerick.
Ryan McBride (Derry City)
Derry boss Declan Devine was thrilled with McBride's bustling contribution in the win over Shelbourne. McBride made a vital goal-line clearance to deny Dean Kelly late on.
Killian Brennan (St Patrick’s Athletic)
Revelling in a central midfield role and becoming a regular in our team of the week, Killian Brennan grabbed the first goal during of Saturday's win over Limerick. Brennan was immense alongside Greg Bolger and Chris Forrester in the centre of the park.
James Chambers (Shamrock Rovers)
James Chambers was part of a midfield trio that controlled the game for Shamrock Rovers. He scored a volley, after it appeared that the Hoops would not be rewarded for their first-half dominance and was instrumental in the build-up to Ronan Finn’s strike that sealed the three points.
Karl Moore (Bohemians) Although his side didn't create many clear goal-scoring chances on Saturday night against Sligo Rovers, the former Shamrock Rovers winger was involved in every Bohs attack with his quick passing and good movement throughout midfield.
Switching from the wing to the middle of the park constantly, Moore showed some good touches and was the Gypsies' best player going forward.
Karl Sheppard (Shamrock Rovers) Sheppard didn't score, although he twice came very close, but he caused trouble for Cork City's centre-backs throughout.
The on-loan Reading man’s excellent performance lead to one of them being substituted early in the second half and he led the line well until he left the action after 81 minutes.
Kieran Djilali (Sligo Rovers) The former Crystal Palace man has bags of ability, but still seems to be finding his feet in the League of Ireland.
Djilali gave the Bit o'Red faithful a glimpse of what he can do as he put in a fantastic first-half effort, coming close to scoring straight from kick-off and linking up well with fellow midfielders Aaron Greene and Joseph Ndo. A lack of match fitness put an end to his game seven minutes from time when he was substituted.
Ismahil Akinade (Bray Wanderers) Akinade can be infuriatingly inconsistent but he gave an exceptional performance against UCD, starting with a third-minute shot that was narrowly wide before he produced a contender for Goal of the Month with a stunning strike from twenty yards.
His pace, control and aerial ability caused numerous problems for the home defence and the Ireland Under-19 international could well have bagged a hat-trick but for the heroics of Mark McGinley in the home goal.
Jason Byrne (Bray Wanderers) Byrne’s four goals reflected the talent and finishing ability that he has possessed throughout his career as he notched his 72nd competitive goal for Bray to confirm the three points.
All his four finishes showed the striker at his best, finding space and unerring accuracy to confirm his side’s dominance at Belfield, in what was an exceptional attacking display from the visitors.