FLASHBACK - Opening weekend of 2009 League of Ireland Season

Thu, Feb 14 2019

Joseph Ndo grabbed the winner for current champions Bohs in their opening game against Dundalk Credit: Stephen Burke

At the start of last season, we looked back on the opening day of the 2008 season, which was the first season of Extratime.ie. Once again, Tom Clancy rewinds a decade to see what happened on the opening weekend of the 2009 season.

Bohemians dethroned Drogheda United and arrived into 2009 as Champions. Pat Fenlon’s men would be up against Michael O’Neill at Shamrock Rovers as well as Stephen Kenny at Derry City. The division welcomed Dundalk as the League was restructured from 12 to 10 sides. Drogheda had returned from a bleak winter of near financial ruin while Jeff Kenna swapped Galway for Inchicore after a close call with relegation in 2008.

Dundalk 0-1 Bohemians
Goal: Joey N’Do (71)

The defending champions kick started 2009 with a narrow win in Oriel Park. Joey N’Do notched the winner with his head on his debut, while Pat Fenlon saw his opposite number Sean Connor sent to the stands late on. Graeme McQueen reported that “Cameroonian international Ndo rose highest to send a delightful header into the top corner. The move came just minutes after Fenlon had withdrew the ineffectual Glen Crowe and put Ndo through the middle”.

Full report can be found here.

St Patrick’s Athletic 0-3 Galway United

Goals: Derek O’Brien (18, 53), Vinny Faherty (50)

Having switched Galway for Inchicore in the winter of 2008, Jeff Kenna can be forgiven for pulling his hair out after United inflicted a 3-0 thumping on the Saints in the season opener. Derek O’Brien left St. Patrick’s Athletic to return to Galway and immediately notched a brace and set up Vinny Faherty for the other. Bobby Ryan, John Lester and Gary Rogers were unable to stop a Tribesmen outfit which also contained Jay O’Shea as well as former Arsenal reserve Sean Kelly. Eoin Manning described the action, read more here.


Sligo Rovers 1-1 Cork City

Goals: Sligo: Stephen Parkhouse (89); Cork City: Billy Dennehy (86)

When Billy Dennehy put the Rebels ahead with just four minutes to go Paul Doolin could have been  forgiven for thinking his side would mark his debut in the Cork dugout with a win. But Stephen Parkhouse replied and Sligo Rovers took a point. Cork had Irish internationals Joe Gamble and Colin Healy, while Romauld Boco, capped for Benin featured for the Bit o’ Red.  Raff Cretaro, Dan Murray, Alan Keane and Pat Sullivan all featured, while current Cork keeper Mark McNulty was on the bench,

Christopher Davey’s match report can be found here.

Derry City 1-0 Drogheda United

Goal: Mark Farren (10)

An estimated 3,100 paid into Brandywell for Derry City and Drogheda United. Stephen Kenny had City icon Mark Farren to thank for an opening day win, with Ger O’Brien making his debut for Derry. Drogheda United had Alan Mathews in the dugout after parting ways with Paul Doolin. The Drogheda squad was words of Ciaran Duffy “a hastily put together Drogheda team who only came out of examinership a number of weeks ago, but with so many players from last year’s First Division winning Dundalk team there will still be questions of whether they can cope with the step up in standard.”

A young James McClean didn’t appear from the bench, while Conor Kenna featured for United.

Read on here.


Bray 0-0 Shamrock Rovers

Despite the result, Finbarr O’Sullivan described this as “an entertaining match at Carlisle Grounds”. Stephen Bradley, Gary Twigg and Dessie Baker were unable to unlock a Wanderers side featuring Dane Massey, Gary McCabe and the evergreen Dave Mulcahy.

Daire Doyle hit the post for Eddie Gormley’s Bray, while the tie was Michael O’Neill’s first in the League of Ireland. An estimate of 2,500 people were on-hand to watch the beginning of a rather successful managerial appointment for the Hoops.

Read more here.



The First Division kicked off on the same night as the Premier Division. Twelve teams would compete with Finn Harps dropping down with UCD. Cobh Ramblers were also relegated but the Rams wouldn’t take their place in the second tier, instead dropping to the A Championship, as they failed to get a licence. Shelbourne were favourites for the division, however Liam Buckley had assembled a strong squad which included 2007 Premier Division top scorer Eamon Zayed. Mervue United took Cobh’s place while Limerick FC, not 37, were patiently waiting for some financial help which arrived during the season.

UCD 2-1 Limerick

Goals: UCD: Ciaran Kilduff (57), Chris Mulhall (74); Limerick: Paul Cummins (89)

UCD, unsurprisingly had a number of players who’d feature heavily in the Premier Division as the season went on. Ciaran Kilduff and future Limerick player Chris Mulhall un-done the Blues who had a squad featuring local talent, with former Cork City defender Brian O’Callaghan arguably the stand out name. Martin Russells side would have a fantastic season, aided in no small part to their defence which featured Andy Boyle and Michael Leahy.

Full report from Llyod Murphy can be read here.


Shelbourne 2-1 Wexford

Goals: Shelbourne: Paddy Madden (25), Anthony Flood (70) Gavin Doyle (42)

Paddy Madden marked his loan-debut with a goal against a Wexford side featuring in their third league season. Ultimately it was Bisto – Anthony Flood – who would find the winner after Gavin Doyle had equalised. Shels, who’d been kept in the first division thanks to a Limerick goal in the final minute of 2008 season, were determined to get back to the Premier Division. David Cassidy remained at the heart of the team, though Richie Baker provided both assists in this game. 17-year-old Jimmy Keohane made his debut late on as Youths looked to improve upon seventh place from the previous season.

Gordon Hunt was in Tolka Park for Extraime.ie, read on here.


Kildare County 1-1 Finn Harps

Goals David O’Riordan 48 David McDaid 84

Graeme McQueen was in Dundalk on Friday and moved to Kildare on Saturday, as Finn Harps visited Newbridge. It was honours even at full-time as David O’Riordan 48th minute strike was cancelled out by David McDaid late on. Neither side would have had realistic promotion ambitions, however, Kildare were likely to be happier to start 2009 with a point, having been the whipping boys of the Division in previous seasons.

The report for this match played in front of just 353 spectators, can be found here.


Waterford United 1-1 Sporting Fingal

Goals: Waterford United: Gary Dunphy (86) Sporting Fingal: Phillip Byrne (88)

Having been emphatically thumped on their national debut 12 months earlier, Sporting Fingal applied themselves much better to earn what proved to be a crucial point away to Waterford United. Fingal would finish three points ahead of Waterford and gain promotion via the play-offs. So, while Phillip Byrne may not have thought too much about his 88th minute leveller, it proved  somewhat significant as Fingal joined the top table. Gary Dunphy, Kenny Browne and Graham Cummins all featured for the Blues, while future internationals Eamon Zayed and Shaun Williams along with Alan Kirby and Conan Byrne lined out for the Dubliners.

An interesting pair of line-ups can be seen here, as Stephen Henderson and Liam Buckley were in opposition in the dugouts.


Longford Town 3-3 Monaghan United

Goals: Longford Town: Colm Jinks (10), Jason McCartney (11), Derek Glynn (13) Monaghan United: Karl Bermingham (21), Sean Brennan (35) Barry Clancy (50)

The manner of this 3-3 draw arguably makes it the game of the weekend. Denise O’Flaherty was treated to five first half goals as Longford Town let an early 3-0 lead slip to Monaghan United. Town shot out of the blocks with goals from Colm Jinks, Jason McCartney, Derek Glynn. Those three goals came in just over two minutes and though it seemed a long way back, Mick Cooke’s Monaghan were level with 40 minutes remaining. Barry Clancy fired them level and the majority of the estimated 600 at Flancare Park had to be happy with just a point. Monaghan featured current Dundalk skipper Brian Gartland, Alan Byrne and Sean Brennan, while the hosts had Stephen Gough, Derek Glynn and Brian McCarthy, who was sent off.

Denise O’Flaherty described the action.


Mervue United 0-1 Athlone Town 

Goal: Noel McGee (12)

Mervue United were introduced to the League of Ireland with a defeat to their nearest neighbours. Noel McGee was on hand to notch the winner as a bizarre few years for Galway football began. Current Salford City striker Rory Gaffney lined out for United, while Dave Goldbey let the line. Athlone were able to call upon long time servant Des Hope. Hope would spend a decade with the Club, leaving in late 2010.  

Alan Dooley was on hand for Extratime.ie, as Galway had its second League of Ireland team, after Mervue won the “A” Championship in 2008


2009 would ultimately end up as a traumatic year in the League of Ireland, with third placed Cork City and fourth placed Derry City demoted to the first Division, with bottom side Bray Wanderers using one of their many Premier Division lives to stay in the top flight once more. Kildare County crashed out at the end of another poor season.