Five League of Ireland talking points this weekend

15th November 2023

Who can lay claim to be the main contenders to Shamrock Rovers crown?

Who can lay claim to be the main contenders to Shamrock Rovers crown?

As Declan Devine welcomes his former side to Dalymount this Friday in a battle of the two contenders to Shamrock Rovers’ crown, there’s a few subplots to gain the attention of supporters.

Though Dean Williams’ penalty in The Ryan McBride Brandywell earlier this season gained Bohs the three points, the league leaders advantage at the top of the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division has now been whittled down to one point. 

After the disappointment of their Dublin Derby defeat on Friday, Bohs now have the perfect opportunity to back up their title credentials with a statement win over Derry City who have re-found their form in recent weeks. 

With Shamrock Rovers facing UCD on Friday, both sides will not want to drop points but the effect of a win could create a great sense of momentum for either side at another sold out Dalymount Park. 

Ruaihdri Higgins has been delighted to start to welcome back some of his injured players with the likes of Michael Duffy enjoying a run back in the team and having gotten through the injury hit phase just two points behind Shamrock Rovers, they will feel they are very much in this title race. 

Bohs will also be delighted to have reached Round 14 one point ahead of the rest and the chance to do the double over Derry City will show they’re the main contenders to the crown this year. 

They’ll be hoping their home crowd can help send them into the summer with a big season ahead. 

Who can lead the way for the European spots this season?

The battle for Europe is intensifying once more after Dundalk’s resurgent form in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division and Shelbourne will be hoping their unbeaten run can be extended in a massive game at The Showground on Saturday night. 

The two sides were evenly matched in their first clash at Tolka Park with the Reds edging a 2-1 win against a Sligo Rovers side who have the top scorer in the Division and a side playing some of the most free flowing football this season. 

Despite their attacking prowess from the likes of Max Mata and Fabrice Hartmann, Sligo will have liked to show a little more resilience at the back and fell to a home loss late on against Dundalk last Saturday and will be hoping to avoid a similar fate this time around. 

Shels have gone unbeaten in seven games now and have been slowly going through the gears but a win away from home in Sligo would be a real signifier in their hunt for Europe. 

They will need the likes of Jack Moylan and Matty Smith to produce with Sean Boyd still missing though they will have been encouraged by Boyd’s return to running in training after a while off through injury. 

What they, or any club for that matter, would give for Max Mata who has been in sensational form this season and he will look to provide a crucial part of Sligo’s push up the table. 

Can Cobh Ramblers continue their fine form into a clash of 2nd v 3rd in the SSE Airtricity Men's First Division?

The attention last week in the SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division was all on Galway United’s win over Waterford but Shane Keegan’s Cobh Ramblers is slowly becoming a significant story in the 2023 season so far. 

Their rise up the table season has been brilliant and their visit to the RSC this week sees second play third in the table with now just five points between the Munster rivals. 

It’s clear that Keegan has recruited well with the likes of Jack Doherty and Wilson Waweru proving a success thus far. 

Their hopes will now be firmly in getting into the Play-Offs given their excellent start to the season and they’ll travel to RSC full of confidence. 

With the loss against Galway United, Keith Long will be looking to bounce back straight away and Club Chairman Andy Piley issued a rallying cry this week to get the support behind the Blues for a big match this Friday night. 

With the gap to Galway United now at 10 points, Long can’t afford to lose any more ground if they maintain any hope of reeling in the leaders. 

Cobh Ramblers will look to make a statement of their own, however, in this eagerly anticipated Munster Derby. 

Can Dundalk make it four in a row or will Cork City stop the rot?

Dundalk v Cork City brings back many memories of huge clashes in the title races and FAI Cup Finals and Dundalk’s recent form has also rekindled some of those fine Dundalk teams. 

Having gone through somewhat of a sticky spot and a massive injury list, Dundalk have now won three in a row with five games unbeaten. 

Their last loss though was away to Cork City which also happened to be Cork’s last win in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division. 

Since then, Cork City have now lost five in a row and have subsequently begun the search for a new Manager to replace Colin Healy. 

Liam Buckley has come in as Sporting Director and knows as well as anyone that they will need to start picking up points quickly if they want to avoid a relegation battle in 2023. 

They will need a return to form of Ruairi Keating if that is to happen and also to shore it up a leaky defence which saw three goals conceded at home to St Pat’s last weekend. 

Cork will have to do without Ally Gilchrist again however as he serves a red card suspension. 

Dundalk will this game as a perfect opportunity to gain an impressive fourth win in a row. 

Will Shamrock Rovers extend their unbeaten run in their debut season?

The top of the SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division is showing no sign of anyone breaking away as teams continue to take points off each other. 

Athlone Town will have come into 2023 filled with hope of going one better in the league after their impressive second place finish but last week’s late loss to Shelbourne was another bump in the road. 

They have the perfect opportunity this week against an impressive Shamrock Rovers side who sit just one point off the top of the League.

Collie O’Neill’s side is so far unbeaten having only dropped points in draws so far this season and with a side filled with World Cup hopefuls, sights of the FIFA Women’s World Cup this week will be driving the likes of Abbie Larkin on again further.

Just five points separate the top five in Division and at this stage its anyone’s guess as to who will end up at the top of the tree come November. 

If Shamrock Rovers can maintain their unbeaten run they could slowly ascend to the top while the others take points off himself. 

With Athlone Town facing Shamrock Rovers, Shels will now see an opportunity to close the gap at the top when they face DLR Waves on Saturday at Tolka Park. 

Full fixtures

SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday, 12 May, 19:45

Bohemians v Derry City
Dundalk v Cork City
St Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United 
UCD v Shamrock Rovers

Saturday, 13 May, 19:45

Sligo Rovers v Shelbourne 

SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division 
Friday, 12 May, 19:45

Athlone Town v Kerry
Bray Wanderers v Finn Harps
Galway United v Wexford 
Waterford v Cobh Ramblers

Saturday, 13 May 19:45

Longford Town v Treaty United 

SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division

Friday, 12 May, 19:45

Shelbourne v DLR Waves, 14:00
Cork City v Sligo Rovers, 17:00
Treaty United v Peamount United, 17:00
Wexford Youths v Bohemians, 18:00
Athlone Town v Shamrock Rovers, 19:00