In a truncated season like this, there have been very few games if any without any significance in the League of Ireland. Even more so that’s the case in the First Division with an automatic promotion place and 5 play-off places. It’s going down to the wire despite looking like a one-horse race for early parts of the season. There are 11 games remaining, 10 of which involve a team in contention for a play-off place.
The Promotion Race
Drogheda United v Wexford
UCD v Cabinteely
Shamrock Rovers II v Athlone Town
Longford Town v Cobh Ramblers
Galway United v Drogheda United
Bray Wanderers v Galway United
Athlone Town v Bray Wanderers
Cabinteely v Drogheda United
Cobh Ramblers v Shamrock Rovers II
Galway United v UCD
Wexford v Longford Town
While Longford Town can mathematically still get top spot it looks unlikely. They would need Bray to fail to take anything from their remaining two games, and would require Drogheda to take no more than 5 points from their remaining 3 games. Furthermore there would need to be a goal difference swing of 12 goals in their favor.
More likely it’s between Bray Wanderers and Drogheda United. Drogheda have a game in hand but have the more difficult turnaround. having to go to Galway just 4 days after hosting Wexford. That will be Galway’s first game back. Bray may benefit from having their rearanged fixture afterwards, they host Galway that Saturday. Although Galway are one of the form teams in the division having won 4 of the last 5. They’ve been on super form since John Caulfield took over. They will offer a stern test for both of the sides chasing automatic promotion. Bray will need just 2 points from their remaining games to seal the title if Drogheda lose one of their remaining games. They have only conceded two league goals at home this season, and have a preferable final day game against 8th placed Athlone, who may have an eye on the cup. However if Drogheda win all 3 of their remaining games and Bray lose one they will be champions.
Only Bray Wanderers are mathematically guaranteed at least a play-off place. That being said it’s unlikely Drogheda and Longford will fall out at this stage. The final two spots will likely come down to UCD, Cabinteely, Galway, and Cobh. Cabinteely looked to be running away with the league until they fell into an abysmal run of form, which now means they could drop out of the play-off places this weekend if they lose. Galway have an extra game to play over their rivals, if they win next Tuesday they will find their way into the play-offs. Goal difference could factor in with 4 teams within 3 points of eachother. UCD and Galway are best placed in that respect to gain a chance at promotion.
Update: Wexford have been found guilty of fielding an ineligible player. Cabinteely and Longford will likely be awarded 3 points.
The team that wins the play-offs will have to face the 9th placed team in the Premier Division, which is likely to be either Finn Harps, Cork City, or Shelbourne.
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