Date Time League Season
20 March 2021 6:00 pm Premier Division 2021

Match Report

Sligo Denied at the Death

As far opening games of the season go this game had everything, chances aplenty, denials by the post and a late goal ruled out for offside. Sligo’s encounter with Dundalk saw the away side taking home a precious point while Sligo will rue chances they cultivated from a dominant second-half display.

The opening period was disjointed in its delivery with passes askew and tackles flying in with Greg Bolger and Chris Shields renewing acquaintances in their long associated battles of the pairing.

Dundalk was gifted an opening goal when a mix up in communication between Bolger and his goalkeeper Ed McGinty as they tried to play the ball out of the backline saw Greg Sloggett force pressure on the midfielder.

Sloggett forced an error from Bolger to steal the ball and with McGinty completely out of position he squared it to McEleney who curled the ball past McGinty to open his scoring account for Dundalk for the year. It marks a goal on the anniversary of his League of Ireland debut eleven years ago.

Sligo responded perfectly when Romeo Parkes got off the mark for the season with a trademark goal. A free-kick was sent into the direction of the striker and he headed it powerfully past Abibi in the Dundalk goal. While it’s not taking anything away from Parkes’ effort conceding a goal at the near post it’s not something that Dundalk usually do.

Sligo continued to dominate possession and chances and Jordon Gibson was denied by the butt of the post to give his side the lead. After a great phase of play that saw Parkes’ unleash Gibson on the right, his effort beat the onrushing Abibi and it looked as if it was going to nestle in the net, there was a collective sigh of relief from the Dundalk defenders as the post came to the rescue.

Patrick Hoban on another night could have had a hat-trick but on this occasion, it was a case of missed chances and just plain rotten luck that denied the striker. On the stroke of half time, McGinty once again out of place lost possession to his former teammate Junior, the winger sensing the opportunity better taken by his teammate squared it to Hoban whose effort flashed just wide. Looking up to the sky Hoban had the look of ‘It’s going to be one of those nights’

The second half saw Dundalk look to implement a strong start with Cameron Dummingan flashing his effort wide and Greg Sloggett testing the steady hands of McGinty before Hoban headed wide at the near post from a McEleney corner. Sligo continued to push forward but also to no avail but the best chance for Dundalk would fall midway through the half.

Daniel Cleary sent in a deft ball from the right, it had no pace to it, so Hoban had to add direction and power to his header, it looped over McGinty and it looked certain to be going in only for the post to deny the striker. Hoban has scored harder opportunities in his career and his reaction to this latest miss was telling.

One will expect a big season from him that will ignite soon.

In the dying embers of the game, Sligo could have snatched a deserved victory when Mark Byrne sent in an excellent ball that Dundalk failed to clear and Johnny Kenny the seventeen-year-old with the goal at his mercy could not make the right connection. Byrne would go from provider to almost scorer as David Cawley squared the ball into the player only for the ball to nestle in the net but the lineman to deny any kind of celebration.

Greg Bolger had a chance blocked by Abibi at the death but both sides will rue missed chances as Sligo are on the road to Waterford next week and Dundalk entertain Finn Harps at Oriel Park.

Three points a must for both clubs.

  • 90'

    FULL TIME: Sligo Rovers 1-1 Dundalk FC And that is that. A very entertaining match between the two sides and either side could have won it. Sligo dominated for long periods but could not capitalise on the ample possession they had. Both sides could see this as points dropped. Thanks for tuning in this evening, Ciaran Callan logging off with a match report to follow.

  • 90'

    What a save from Abibi to deny Bolger who lets one fly from the edge of the area, it was an excellent lay off by Cawley to set up the Sligo captain.

  • 90'

    Dummigan lets one fly from range but it flashes past McGinty's post.

  • 90'

    Three added minutes here at the Showgrounds.

  • 87'

    David Cawley squared the ball to Mark Byrne and it is in the back of the net BUT the linesman has the flag up!

  • 85'

    What a chance for Kenny, David Cawley lets him free and despite the attention, he gets his shot away and it's well saved by Abibi.

  • 84'

    Chris Shields captains Dundalk this season. It’s league game number 325 of his career tonight at the ground where he made his first for Bray Wanderers as a sub for Sligo native Alan Cawley on November 14th 2008. Mauro Almeida & Conor O'Grady goals won the game for Sligo that night

  • 81'

    Mark Byrne sends the excellent ball in and Johnny Kenny at the back post just misses it at the back post. Could that be the chance that could have won it for Sligo? We have less than ten minutes to play here and it's anyones game.

  • 79'

    Sonni Nattestad is the first Faroese player to play in the League of Ireland

  • 76'

    Garry Buckley also enters the referee's book.

  • 76'

    Daniel Cleary is booked for an incident in the box.

  • 72'

    Michael Duffy replaces Junior.

  • 72'

    Patrick McEleney comes off the game and he is replaced by Stanton.

  • 72'

    Sam Stanton arrives on his his league debut for Dundalk.

  • 72'

    Michael Duffy enters the game for his 170th Dundalk appearance but just his 11th off the bench.

  • 72'

    Romero Parks also comes off from tonights proceedings.

  • 72'

    Walter Figueira is coming off and his game is done for today.

  • 72'

    Mark Byrne also enters the game.

  • 72'

    Cawley comes on for the latter stages of the game

  • 66'

    That was so unlucky! A fantastic ball sent into the area by Daniel Cleary was met by Hoban who added pace and power to it, McGinty is left clutching the air but the post denies him!

  • 62'

    Alessio Abibi inclusion in today's game means he is just the second Albanian to play in the league after Marlon Marishta, who played a handful of times for Bray Wanderers last season.

  • 59'

    A great header from Patrick Hoban following an excellent corner from Patrick McEleney that just goes wide of the post. This followed some excellent build-up play with Chris Shields and Daniel Cleary involved before the ball was put out for a corner.

  • 56'

    An excellent opportunity for Sloggett on the edge of the area and he lets one fly but the shot is blocked by Mahon and takes the sting out of the patch of the ball and McGinty saves with ease.

  • 51'

    Figueira picks up the ball from Sloggett who was under pressure from Abibi's poor distribution and he hits a snapshot that could have caught out Abibi at this near post. It just goes wide of the near post.

  • 48'

    Big chance for Dundalk as Cameron Dummigan is fed the ball to the wing-back but his effort blazes over the bar. Dundalk looking to reset and hoping to restore their lead early in the second half.

  • 46'

    SECOND HALF: Sligo Rovers get us back underway here in the Showgrounds.

  • 45'

    HALF TIME: Sligo Rovers 1-1 Dundalk Dundalk got off to the perfect start with a goal from McEleney but was pegged back with a great goal from Romeo Parkes. A great half of football which saw both sides having chances with Jordon Gibson and Patrick Hoban with the pick of the chances for either side.

  • 45'

    What a chance! Junior steals the ball of McGinty on the edge of the area and he squares it to Hoban but his side just flashes wide of the post. What an opportunity for the Dundalk striker.

  • 44'

    The former Sligo player is down with a head injury but he looks ok to continue.

  • 41'

    Patrick McEleney is not the loudest of characters. But he has just let his feelings known to Abibi in relation to his kick-outs.

  • 37'

    Aint no body! It was 11 years ago tonight since Patrick McEleney made his League of Ireland debut for Derry away to Waterford Utd. A Liam Kearney goal on 12 minutes won it for the RSC men that night. McEleney marks the decade-plus one occasion with a goal himself.

  • 34'

    What a chance for Jordon Gibson, Romeo Parks does excellent to let the winger free and his effort beats Abibi but the butt of the post denies the home side to take the lead. Dundalk really has not composed themselves since they conceded the goal as the home side has been excellent in their attacking play.

  • 30'

    That is an excellent run and chance for Johnny Kenny, he knicked the ball off Andy Boyle and bore down on Abibi however his shot was well blocked and cleared. There is a break in play as in reality the tails are up with the home side.

  • 29'

    That is Romeo Parkes' second goal against Dundalk. The forward also scored here in the 2-1 win for Sligo in April 2019

  • 23'

    And Sligo are level! An excellent ball sent into the area from a free-kick and Romeo Parkes did excellently to head it powerfully past Abibi at the near post. The perfect response from the home side.

  • 22'

    John Kenny has a chance to bear down on Abibi but his effort goes wide of the mark, the seventeen-year-old is a bright prospect for the home side and has had an impress pre season.

  • 21'

    Sligo has a chance to equalise from a corner from Robbie McCourt however the sheer presence and height in Dundalk's defence clears the danger. Parkes did have a second bit of the cherry but its cleared again.

  • 16'

    And Dundalk take the lead! A mix up from a phase of play from the back as McGinty and Greg Bolger are under massive pressure from Greg Sloggett and the ball is gifted to Patrick McEleney and he does excellent to curl it past McGinty. The perfect start of the away side.

  • 6'

    150 not out. It’s league appearance number 150 in Dundalk colours tonight for Andy Boyle. He made his debut for the club in 2013 when he arrived in Stephen Kenny's first season. He did move to Preston North End in 2016 and returned to the club in the summer of 2019.

  • 6'

    From the corner, the ball from McEleney was swung in and met on the head by Junior but it curls over Ed McGinty's bar at the near post.

  • 5'

    Both sides are just feeling each other out and there has been a lot of mislaid passes and balls going awry but I suspect that both sides will settle as the half progresses. Greg Bolger imposing his stature in the game in the opening minutes,.

  • 1'

    KICK OFF! We are underway at the Showgrounds with Patrick Hoban kicks us off here in Sligo.

  • And here come the teams. Greg Bolger will lead out the Sligo Rovers side and Chris Shields will lead out Dundalk. The action will be underway soon.

  • We are just over ten minutes left to kick-off, the players are in the final preparations for tonight's match. They will then head into the changing rooms and get their final instructions from Shane Keegan and Liam Buckley respectively.

  • There are four league debutants tonight for Dundalk tonight with Sonni Nattestad, Alessio Abibi, Raivis Jurkovskis & Junior making their league competitive debuts. However its an opening league night for the former three as Junior faces his old club tonight having moved in the off season.

  • There is only one former Dundalk player in the Sligo line up - Greg Bolger spent a season at Dundalk in 2011. The 32 year reached a Setanta Cup Final with the side that lost to Shamrock Rovers.

  • The game tonight is only the fourth time that Dundalk FC will have opened their League of Ireland season in Sligo. Dundalk lost 4-2 in their last opening-night visit in 1976. That was after a 2-2 draw in 1952 and a 4-3 win in 1954. Will 2021 be a different tale? Only time will tell.

  • There are three changes to the side that won the Presidents Cup last weekend. Greg Sloggett, Cameron Dummigan and Patrick Hoban come into the side. Sam Stanton, Darragh Leahy and David McMillan drop to the bench while there is a welcome return for Michael Duffy. The Derry native is back on the Lilywhite match day squad following injury.

  • You have to look back to 2019 and the FAI Cup Final to Dundalk's last win in the Showgrounds. However the statistics overall tip in the Lilywhites favour. The previous twenty-six matches between the side have seen seventeen wins for Dundalk, five for Sligo and four draws.

  • Good Evening and you are very welcome to tonight's coverage of Sligo Rovers and Dundalk from the Showgrounds. I'm Ciaran Callan reporting the action as it happens as Dundalk with a new-look side looks to capitalise on Shamrock Rovers dropping points by claiming three points out west. Easier said than done as Dundalk's last two matches against the bit of red have come with defeat.

Sligo Rovers

1Ed McGinty Goalkeeper
3Colm Horgan Defender
5Robbie McCourt Defender
6Greg Bolger Midfielder
7Jordan Gibson Forward
8Niall Morahan Midfielder
10Walter Figueira 12 Forward
21John Mahon Defender
24Johnny Kenny Forward
26Garry Buckley Midfielder 76'
27Romeo Parkes 22 Forward 23'
30Richard Brush Goalkeeper
2Lewis Banks Defender
4Danny Kane Defender
9Ryan DeVries Forward
12Mark Byrne (Sligo) 10 Midfielder
14Shane Blaney Defender
18John Russell Midfielder
19Regan Donelon Defender
22David Cawley 27 Midfielder


1Alessio Abibi Goalkeeper
4Andy Boyle Defender
5Chris Shields Midfielder
6Sonni Nattestad Defender
9Patrick Hoban Forward
10Greg Sloggett Midfielder
11Patrick McEleney 8 Midfielder 16'
13Raivis Jurkovskis Defender
20Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe 7 Forward
21Dan Cleary Defender 76'
23Cameron Dummigan Midfielder
14Peter Cherrie Goalkeeper
7Michael Duffy 20 Midfielder
8Sam Stanton 11 Midfielder
15Darragh Leahy Defender
28Ryan O’Kane Forward
29David McMillan Forward
90Jesus Perez Midfielder

Past Meetings

(Series 18)
Premier Division
Oriel Park

(Series 9)
Premier Division
The Showgrounds


RefereeAssistantsFourth Official
Neil DoyleDarren Carey
Shane O’Brien
John McLoughlin


The Showgrounds
The Showgrounds - Sligo Rovers F.C., Magheraboy Road, Knappagh Beg, Sligo, Sligo Municipal Borough District, County Sligo, Connacht, F91 P523, Ireland

Ciaran Callan is a part-time sports journalist based in Dundalk, Co. Louth. He has more than 10 year’s experience working with media companies including both extensive radio broadcasting experience along with print and digital media reporting for the SSE Airtricity League as well digital media work with the national sports company eirSport. He joined FinalWhistle in February 2021 as is their main correspondent for Dundalk Football Club.