Tag Archives: irish football

First Division Run-In Guide

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

Remaining Fixtures

Round 17

Friday 16th

Drogheda United v Wexford

UCD v Cabinteely

Saturday 17th

Shamrock Rovers II v Athlone Town

Longford Town v Cobh Ramblers

Round 16

Tuesday 20th

Galway United v Drogheda United

Round 17

Saturday 24th

Bray Wanderers v Galway United

Round 18

Tuesday 27th

Athlone Town v Bray Wanderers

Cabinteely v Drogheda United

Cobh Ramblers v Shamrock Rovers II

Galway United v UCD

Wexford v Longford Town

Automatic Promotion

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.

Play-Offs

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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Premier Division Reaches Business End

The League of Ireland Premier Division is nearing it’s conclusion, let’s see how things are shaping up.

Title Race Run

At the risk of sounding like many pundits early last season when Shamrock Rovers had a 13-point lead and still finished 2nd, surely, SURELY, this Rovers team are too good to let this slip. They’ve played immaculate football, and recovered well from a blip of two consecutive 0 – 0 draws in Dublin derbies, their only dropped points of the season. The Hoops matched up well with Milan in Europe, and now have only the league to focus on with the cup not resuming until after the league finishes. Winning last season FAI Cup seemed to have removed the mental block Shamrock Rovers had, and the shortened season has meant their quick start (both pre and post LockDown) has allowed them to take momentum into the final part of the season. That’s that… probably.

We have to mention the nearest title challengers this season, Bohemians. They’ve conceded the join-lowest amount of league goals this season, and have kept up the pressure on their rivals. This title challenge is ahead of schedule for the young team, Keith Long has done a fantastic job building this team into what looks like an outfit that will consistently challenge for Europe.

European Push

Bohs look likely to be playing in Europe next season, sitting 7 points clear of 4th place. Dundalk sit 3rd, the only other guaranteed European place in the league. They are level on points with Waterford, but have two games in hand, against Derry and Cork respectively. Fixture overload could be a problem as they are still in the Europa League qualifiers. New manager Filippo Giovagnoli will be under serious pressure if his side fail to get into Europe next season.

If the FAI Cup winners finish in the top 3, 4th spot will be a European place. Waterford currently sit a point ahead of Sligo. Depending on who comes in Waterford could see themselves get a new manager bounce, but it will have to come quickly as they take on Sligo this Saturday.

Derry, Shelbourne, and St. Patrick’s Athletic all sit on 13 points. It will likely be a battle to finish best of the rest between them, however a good run of form would take them into the European places.

While Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians, and Dundalk all sit in the top 3 and are still in the cup, if any of Athlone, Finn Harps, Derry, Shelbourne, or Sligo win the Cup, they will get the final European spot regardless of where they finish.

Relegation Dog Fight

For some time now it’s looked likely that the bottom two spots will be contested between Finn Harps and Cork. Cork sit bottom, a point behind Harps with a game in hand. It will likely come down to the clash between those two teams on Sunday. A Harps win could be enough to stay up. Both sides have conceded league highs of 19 goals this season, Cork have scored 6, Harps have scored 8.

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