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

Aaron Doherty

The first series of games ended on Friday night with Cork City continuing their dominant run with their 11th win in a row, at the expense of Bray Wanderers. The Leesiders have also made the best start to a top-flight campaign for 51 years and have extended their lead at the top, to 12 points. Bohemians ended their 4-match losing streak with a win over Finn Harps, while St Pats could only manage a point in Derry. There were 25 goals this weekend across the 10 games, with only 2 teams failing to score.

It was also a weekend of firsts, as Cobh Ramblers moved top of the first division after a win over Shelbourne. Galway United got their first league win of the season as they shocked the champions Dundalk; while Shamrock Rovers got booed off at full time as they picked up their first draw of the season against Limerick.

Longford took bragging rights in the derby against Athlone, while Wexford are still to register a win, as they could only manage a draw at home to Cabinteely. Shelbourne’s defeat to Cobh is their 3rd on the bounce, and have fallen into 6th place. They will need to build a run of games without defeat before any promotion bid fails.

So, what have we learned this week?

Galway notch their first win.

Manager Shane Keegan has been going on the last few weeks about his side not getting the rub of the green, and on Friday night they got their awards. With the champions Dundalk coming to town, nobody gave the Tribesmen a hope; but thanks to an inspired performance from Conor Wynn, Keegan’s men got that elusive first win.

Galway had 2 chances on Friday night and took them both. The first, an excellent move down the left-hand side and when the ball found its way into the box; Vinny Faherty headed easily into the bottom corner. Gary Shanahan got the winner in added time as his drive from 25 yards deflected off Brian Gartland and into the net, the rub of the green that Keegan was talking about.

With that surprise win, Galway have suffered defeat just once in their last 5 games and have still one game in hand. Should they win that, they will jump out of the relegation spots and into 9th place. We start again this weekend with the fixtures, which means Galway travel to Drogheda, then play Derry in their game in hand; before hosting run away leaders Cork. The upcoming week is massive for Galway United and they will look to build on their current form.

Trouble continues in Tallaght

It took just 11 games for the fans of Shamrock Rovers to boo their team off the pitch as they yet again failed to win. Every season the expectations grow for the Hoops despite not achieving any silverware since the league cup win over Drogheda United in 2013. They have won 17 league titles in their history, but they are miles away from ever getting to that 18th.

Stephen Bradley has signed some really good players – Graham Burke, Ronan Finn, Ryan Connolly and David McAllister and so far; they have flattered to deceive. They sit in 6th with just 4 wins from 11 and 20 points off leaders Cork. In the off season, Bradley said they could certainly challenge but he couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Hoops lack a leader and a consistent goal threat on the pitch that would enable them to get up the table. Dundalk travel to Tallaght this week who will look to get back to winning ways and open a 11-point gap over their rivals. For Stephen Bradley, a defeat and wins for the sides underneath them, could spell trouble for the former midfielder as they sit just 3 points off 10th.

Good start for Gerard Lyttle

Sligo Rovers appointed the former Cliftonville manager last week to try and steer them away from the bottom 3 and into the top half the table. He led the Irish club to Europa League qualification and won the league cup, so you could say the board of Sligo were more than impressed with his CV. He faces a hard job at the showgrounds as the league of Ireland is much tougher than the Irish league.

He got off to a decent start on Friday with a point away to Drogheda, and he will look to build on that in the coming weeks with games against Limerick and Dundalk. Gerard has a good squad of players at his disposal with the likes of Jonny Russell, Kieran Sadlier (orchestrating the midfield) , Raff Cretaro (with his big goals) and Jonah Ayunga (now finding his feet) . The coach will want to bring in his own players, but until then he should have enough to get them away from the drop.

Cobh keep impressing

Both Cork sides are sitting pretty at the top of their respective leagues, but for Cobh Ramblers it’s quite special. You can’t go a week without mentioning the job Stephen Henderson has done since taking over at St Colemans Park in March 2015. He is building an excellent squad as he looks to gain promotion back to the premier division like he did with Cobh in 2007.

With just one side going up this season, promotion is much tougher than in recent years when the playoff was used; but Henderson will need to focus solely on his sides performances. After their excellent win in Dublin on Friday, they find themselves on the road again this week with a trip to Athlone who are in a right mess at the moment. They will look to get a 4th away win of the season and consolidate their place at the top of the first division.

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