The week leading up to this past weekend’s fixtures was met with Limerick and Sligo Rovers both sacking their manager after just 6 and 7 games respectively.
The players in both camps responded well, when they picked up 3 points each at the weekend which gave the caretakers the perfect start. Across the 10 games this weekend, fans seen 22 goals, 1 scoreless draw; and 8 teams failing to find the target.
Drogheda ended their 5-match winless run with a stoppage time victory over Shamrock Rovers at home. Limerick’s 3rd league win condemned their opponents – St Pats to the bottom 2, while pushing themselves into 5th.
Gary McCabe’s excellent start to the season continued when he scored the only goal to move Bray into 3rd which left Galway United winless. Cork and Dundalk continued to open a gap up over everyone else.
The 1st series of games is already over in the first divison and Waterford lead the way by 1 point after beating Cobh Ramblers. UCD move into 2nd after scoring 4 times against generous Athlone; while Owen Heary’s Shelbourne beat Cabinteely to stretch their unbeaten run to 5 games. Wexford remain bottom without a win, while Longford pick up their 3rd goalless draw of the season.
So, what have we learned this week.
Cork City not slowing down
The last time Cork City tasted defeat was in the final game of last season when Bray beat them 4-1. Since then they have won 11 straight games in all competitions, scoring 30 goals and only conceding 5 times.
John Caulfield has his side playing at the height of their powers, which seen them dispatch Derry City 3-0 on Friday night.
That result observed by over 5 thousand fans at Turners Cross as it seems it’s full speed ahead at Leeside.
They have won their 8 league games to date, playing a brand of football that is so easy on the eye. Key midfielder Greg Bolger has not played since the win over Sligo in March; and Cork have barely missed his presence as we see the squad go from strength to strength. The manager has the perfect balance right across the pitch, and with the current form of Sean Maguire; it’s no surprise they are top. Over the next 2 weeks Cork travel to Dublin to take on Bohemians; and then St Pats; before finishing up at home to Bray. Can they win all their 1st round of games? Time will tell.
Derry City stuck
What was turning into a promising season for the Candystripes, turned into despair with the shock passing of Captain Ryan McBride. This gent was not only a true pillar in his community, but a colossal centre back that played an integral part in the Derry side.
Since they have returned to action, you can see how much he is missed. On the field they have shipped 6 goals and only scored twice in their last 2 games, but for the team to recover from what has happened it will take some time as they continue to solider on without their main man.
Kenny Shiels has the toughest job he has ever faced and will need to give his young squad some confidence in going forward. They host Finn Harps in the derby this weekend, before travelling to Galway in the cup; and then onto Sligo. These could be the perfect games for Derry City to get back up and running; but they will need key players such as Aaron McEneff, Rory Patterson and Barry McNamee to be all on their game if success is to happen.
The sack race has started
After last week’s sackings of Martin Russell at Limerick and Dave Robertson at Sligo; the managerial merry-go-round is starting up again. Like most leagues around the world – slow starts from any clubs normally ends with the sacking of the manager.
Although from Martin Russell’s point of view it may be a bit harsh given the success of last season; which included guiding Limerick to a cup final appearance and the first division league title; all in all, the sacking is rather somewhat of a surprise.
Sligo have had a terrible start, so the dismissal of Robertson was inevitable and the Bit O ’Red may have to look across the water again for their next manager. After the weekend results, more mangers are hovering under the sack radar, including Shane Keegan.
The former Wexford boss has had only 1 victory since taking the reigns with the Tribesmen, which was against Mayo League in the cup. They sit bottom on just 3 points, but have played a game less. This weekend they host St Pats who sit above them in the bottom 3 in what’s a real 6 pointer.
The Saints have had 2 excellent wins against Shamrock Rovers and the Bohemians, but they came unstuck in their defeat at the weekend. The pressure is now back on boss Liam Buckley to get the 2013 champions out of the relegation battle and up in the table. The pressure mounts also for Stephen Bradley as he suffers defeat for the 5th time in 8 league games. They host Sligo this weekend in which both sides are in dire need of 3 points, as another slip up for the hoops could see them fall into the relegation zone.
The battle for promotion gets stronger
Consistency always wins and that is no different for the first division sides as they look to get back to the big time. With only 1 going up this season, the battles on the pitch have become more intense; with every game important as the last. Waterford who are everyone’s favourites, sit top; but they are just 1 point clear of UCD. They are dependent on the goals of David McDaid, but he has scored just 3 goals so far and will need to be more ruthless to stay top.
After a slow start, Shelbourne have come into the promotion race with an unbeaten run of 5 games. Owen Heary’s men jumped into 3rd after beaten Cabinteely on Friday night and travel to a struggling Longford on Saturday, expecting another 3 points. They will need more goals from their attacking players as defender Derek Prendergast is their current top scorer.
Cobh Ramblers and Cabinteely make up the rest of the battle for promotion, but its expected the Dublin side will slowly ease off despite their excellent start. For Cobh, their manager Stephen Henderson is going to need to resolve their away day crisis as they have lost 2 of their 3 games; and if they are to have a say in promotion, they will need to pick up points everywhere.