State of play - The LOI run-in

31st August 2023

Though fans may prefer to have their Clubs go under the radar, there’s no doubt that St Patrick’s Athletic, Derry City and Bohemians are within striking range of the leaders Shamrock Rovers in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division.

The title race


Though fans may prefer to have their Clubs go under the radar, there’s no doubt that St Patrick’s Athletic, Derry City and Bohemians are within striking range of the leaders Shamrock Rovers in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division. 

Hoops fans will be dreaming of four-in-a-row but there’s no doubt that the next two games will go a long way to decide where we will end up. 

First up is the small matter of the Derby with Bohemians in Tallaght before they travel to Derry City with both games live on Virgin Media Two giving us the games that the audience deserve. 

Bohs have yet to beat their South Dublin neighbours and if they were to manage a famous win tomorrow, they would be within just four points of Stephen Bradley’s men going into the run-in. 

Though Europe was the aim for the Dublin 7 outfit, a repeat of some of the famous nights with Darragh Leahy in the 99th minute in Tallaght will see them looking up. 

Derry City came away from Phibsborough with a point last week and knows in reality that only three will do as they face another tough trip to Oriel Park this week.

The last outing there was a wild and frantic 2-2 draw and this is what Ruaihdri Higgins will look to avoid as his side looks to get the crucial three points needed before their next showdown with Rovers in the Brandywell. 

The other character in this tantalising title race is the Saints. Jon Daly’s men will be hoping to complete a clean sweep over their arch-rivals on Dublin’s northside in Shelbourne to stay in the hunt after they laboured to a 1-0 win over UCD last week.

Perhaps the close call with the Students will act as a slight wake-up call after escaping the Bowl with all three points but they know that a big win over Damien Duff’s men will give them the energy needed for a massive run-in where they face Shamrock Rovers on the second last day in Inchicore. 

The search for Europe


While Derry City and St Pat’s will be focusing on silverware, their opponents will be hoping to benefit from any slip-ups as they stay alive in the race for Europe. 

Shels, unbeaten in seven, have jumped ahead of Dundalk on goal difference after their win in Sligo last weekend and have gone under the radar for a lot of this season. 

With the best defence in the league, they will be hoping that the addition of UEFA Europa Conference League goalscorer, Euclides Cabal, to their ranks may help at the other end where Harry Wood has added new impetus to the Red's attack. 

Unlike Shels, Dundalk still have the FAI Cup route back to the continent and while they will persevere in the League race for third and fourth, they know that defeat tomorrow will be a blow to their hopes through the League. 

With Rovers and Derry City out of the Cup as well, Shels’ best hope may be for St Pat’s or Bohs to finish in the top three and win the Cup while they continue their good form into fourth late on. 

What they would give though to secure a huge Derby win at Tolka Park tomorrow to deal a hammer blow to St Pat’s title ambitions and bolster their European ambitions. 


A date of destiny for Galway


While the top flight has many twists and turns ahead, we are now in the phase of when and not if Galway United return to the promised land as Champions. 

Mapping out their next five games and depending on Waterford’s results, the Tribesmen could be celebrating away to Kerry on Friday, 22 September or at home to Finn Harps the following Monday. 

With a restricted away end in Mounthawk Park, it may prove most exciting for the Galwegians to celebrate at home but chances are they won’t care too much once they can put both hands on the SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division trophy. 

Less likely, but still possible if Waterford slip up in their next two games, is Galway United winning the Division away to Bray Wanderers on Friday, 8 September and could also win it by not playing when Waterford face Cobh Ramblers on Friday, 15 September. 

Regardless, Galway United fans are already planning their routes around the top flight next year.  


The Hunt for the Play-Offs 


With Waterford, Cobh Ramblers and Athlone Town looking likely to be in the Play-Off series, the eyes are on who will join them. 

Wexford’s recent form has put them in pole position as Longford Town and Treaty United continue fighting to stay alive in the hunt. 

Treaty will be hoping Wexford can slip up tomorrow at home to Finn Harps before they face each other next week and hope for a win away to Cobh Ramblers to keep the pressure on. 

Longford Town, meanwhile, will face both Galway United and Waterford in two of their next three hoping for an upset to keep their chances alive. 

Wexford know that a win tomorrow will give them a massive boost as they look to put one foot in the playoffs to give them a shot a return to the top flight to top an impressive Cup run too. 


The SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division title race


The SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division returns this week with eyes on the chasing pack as Peamount United’s late dramatic winner over Bohs last week keeps their lead at the top to six points. 

Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers remain in the hunt with Rovers further bolstered again by new signings including Teigan Ruddy from FC Sion. 

Shels welcome former men’s striker Ciaran Kilduff back to Tolka Park whose assistant Ken Kiernan is also no stranger to Tolka Park having managed their WU17 side and Athlone will be hoping to cause an upset after their fine penalties win over Galway United in the Sports Direct Women’s FAI Cup last week. 

The Reds know any slip-up will deal a death knell to their hopes of reclaiming their title while Rovers travel to Turner’s Cross looking for an essential three points in their hunt for a debut title win. 

Meanwhile, Sligo Rovers host Wexford Youths live on TG4 on Saturday night looking to build on their 11-0 win in the Cup last week over Bonagee United. Both them and Wexford Youths will be disappointed by their campaigns so far this season but Saturday offers them a chance of revival.