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What have we learned in the League of Ireland this week?

Aaron Doherty

The domination from Cork City continues after this weekend’s games as they win for the 9th straight time at the expense of Bohemians. John Caulfield’s men are in frightening form and they now lead the way by 9 points from Dundalk and Bray, who are level on 18 points. These two share 2nd thanks to a surprise Bray win at the home of the champions on Friday night. Finn Harps picked up all 3 points in the derby at Maginn Park, to leave Derry without a league win in 3 games.

Limerick continue their good start under caretaker manager Willie Boland when they blew Drogheda away 3-0 at Markets Field; while Shane Keegan remains without a league win after his side scored a late penalty to draw at home to a struggling St Pats. Shamrock Rovers took the points at home to 10 man team Sligo which eased the pressure on Stephen Bradley for another week.

In the first division Waterford showed their consistency with a win at home to Athlone. Cobh win on the road for the second time this season, as they heaped more misery up on winless Wexford. Shelbourne’s good run of form ended when Longford scored 3 times to get their second win of the campaign, while UCD and Cabinteely shared the spoils in the Dublin derby.

What have we learned this week?

Gary McCabe, the signing of the season.

After dishing out plenty of money, contracts and promises in the off season; Bray raised a few eyebrows. As we reflect on another weekend of action, the Seagulls are delivering on the pitch and are now looking to break up the 3-year relationship between Dundalk and Cork. On Friday night, Bray shocked the champions thanks to 2 penalties from Gary McCabe. The former Shamrock Rovers midfielder is in exceptional form since returning to Bray and is loving life back on the seaside.

Playing in the number 10 role this season, McCabe is the league’s current top scorer with 9 goals in 9 games. His ability on the ball to find that killer pass is excellent, while his set pieces this season have been outstanding. Bray have scored 20 goals so far which is the 2nd highest, and are currently 5 points clear of 4th place Limerick. Their next 2 games are at home to Shamrock Rovers and then they travel to Cork; which will indeed test Harry Kenny’s flying Seagulls.

Limerick in the European places.

After Saturday night’s win over Drogheda; caretaker manager Willie Boland made it 2 wins from 2, and moved Limerick into 4th. The players have shown to be coping well with the sacking of Martin Russell, as the Shannon-siders push on to move to within 5 points of 3rd place Bray; with a game in hand. There seems to be a good balance in this Limerick side, that Boland will need to get the best out of.

There was plenty of talk of Rodrigo Tosi when he signed in the off season, and so far, the Brazilian has delivered with 5 goals. A midfield with the experience of Paul O’Connor and Shane Duggan added with the energy and skill of Ian Turner and Lee J Lynch; will indeed give many oppositions problems that they will need to face. Shaun Kelly and Robbie Williams bring the organisation at the back, which gives this Limerick side a look of a well-oiled machine.

A top 6 finish would be an excellent return, but a big 7 days are coming up; where they face Galway at home before trips to Derry and Shamrock Rovers, to test this squad.

Relegation battle continues to change.

The announcement of 3 teams going down this season sparked all kinds of debate; but with Cork running away with the league, the excitement at the other end is extraordinary. Galway United are probably the only team unlikely to escape the danger, as they are yet to win from their opening 8 games. But there is still plenty of time to go and as they say “it’s not over until the fat lady sings”.

Sligo Rovers and St Pats make up the bottom 3 and nobody would have thought they would be there at this stage.
Drogheda United and Finn Harps were tipped to go down, but have so far surprised a few team’s expectations. Pete Mahon’s side picked up wins over St Pats and Shamrock Rovers, while Finn Harps picked up wins over St Pats and Derry City on the road. Bohemians are also in the relegation picture with just 3 wins from 9, as manager Keith Long is having a striker issue with Ismael Akinade and Dinny Corcoran out injured. There are just 5 points separating 4th to 10th so anybody can be pulled in at any stage of the season.

Only St Pats, Finn Harps and Sligo are at home this weekend from the bottom 6, where points are an absolute necessity; and come full time there will be more movement at the bottom.

Waterford in control.

With UCD drawing at home to Cabinteely, Pat Fenlon’s chargers had the chance to take full control of the first division, and thanks to Mark O’Sullivan’s brace; they have done just that. They now move 3 points clear of UCD and Cobh who sit on 14 points apiece in a promotion race, that will go right down to the wire.

We now enter the 2nd series of games and thanks to Waterford’s win, they managed to get some revenge on Athlone after they beat them on the opening day of the season. There is no doubting the quality in the Blues side with players like Patrick McClean, Kenny Browne, David McDaid and the aforementioned O’Sullivan, that they should go all the way. The leaders travel to Dublin to face Cabinteely this weekend in hope they can repeat their 3-0 score line from earlier in the season.

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