The Business End - Three key things to be decided this weekend

17th October 2023

Shamrock Rovers fans are no doubt dreaming of the holy grail heading into Friday night’s clash with Drogheda United.

The Title Race 


Shamrock Rovers fans are no doubt dreaming of the holy grail heading into Friday night’s clash with Drogheda United. One more win will see them within touching distance of the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division title and that magic four-in-a-row. 

Hoops fans will look back to that great team that won the title every year between 1984 and 1987 and see a team filled with new heroes in 2023. 

A win on Friday will see them at least go into Monday’s game live on RTÉ2 in Cork with a four point advantage and with Derry City having just two games remaining at that stage as well as St Patrick’s Athletic playing the same night, it means Rovers can wrap up the title on Monday night in Turner’s Cross depending on results this Friday and Monday. 

Of course, if they slip up and Derry City win against Shelbourne, just one point will separate them heading into Monday’s showdown with Cork City. 

Stephen Bradley’s men have struggled against Drogheda United this year - most notably in Tallaght earlier this year when a cracking Dayle Rooney goal sealed a memorable win for Kevin Doherty’s team. 

The task is clear for the Hoops but it is by no means easy having failed to beat Drogheda United this season so far. 


The Race for Europe


This is a complicated race but one that could become a hell of a lot clearer on Friday night as four of the top five meet in season defining clashes. 

Derry City host Damien Duff’s Shelbourne knowing a win will keep pressure on the top but a loss will see them dragged into an almighty battle for the European places. 

Shels have done remarkably well to stay in the hunt and know if they can come through the trip to the Brandywell with all three points, their European dream will become a serious reality. 

While second play fifth, it’s third v fourth in Dalymount Park as Bohemians welcome St Patrick’s Athletic in a dress rehearsal of the 2023 Sports Direct Men’s FAI Cup Final. Both sides will not want to be depending on a Cup win for Europe so will know that a win on Friday can give them one foot on the plane. 

Bohs beat Pat’s in the first outing this year before the Saints won a thriller in Dalymount and the last clash resulted in a 0-0 draw so this is literally too close to call but with a draw maybe not suiting either side at this point of the season depending on the result of Derry City and Shels - we could be in for a classic.

With the top three guaranteed a place in Europe and fourth position getting a European place if one of the top three win the Cup (Bohs or Pat's win the Cup and finish second or third), all four sides will be hoping to finish in the top three and not relying on a Cup Final result to get them there. 


The Final Play-Off Spot 


Though Athlone Town might have felt comfortable a few weeks ago in the Play-Off spots, they most certainly are looking over the shoulder now heading into the final day of the season as Treaty United travel to the RSC looking for a win to try and leapfrog the Midlanders at the final hurdle. 

Athlone Town face the task of the Midlands Derby and Longford Town will relish the opportunity to put an end to their arch rivals season in one foul swoop. 

Longford almost certainly put an end to Bray Wanderers’ hopes on Saturday night as a late, late equaliser killed the Seasiders dream barring a wild swing in the goal difference on Friday night. 

Athlone Town have lost their last four games and are in somewhat of a freefall but still remain two points clear of Treaty.

A draw for Athlone should be enough unless Treaty produce a multiple goal win over Waterford but one thing is for certain - this one is going right down to the wire.