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

Aaron Doherty

It was another goal hungry, action packed weekend in the league of Ireland that seen 30 goals in 10 games, 3 scoreless draws, 2 hat tricks and 4 red cards. Sean Maguire took his former club Dundalk to the cleaners with a superb hat trick that gave Cork City another 3 points. Bray Wanderers fail to win again, and in the process shipped 5 goals as Limerick take a much-needed win. The Seagulls drop to 4th and have now the second worst defensive record in the league with 31 goals conceded.

Derry City pick up another win after 2 goals inside the 1st 10 minutes, which was enough to beat Galway and move them into 3rd. Shamrock Rovers could only manage 1 point at home against St Pats as Graham Burke was sent off for the second time this season. The point has left Rovers in 5th while it moves St Pats off the bottom.

Bohemians could only manage 1 point at home against Drogheda, which was only their 8th point at Dalymount Park out of 27. The result keeps them 4 points above the relegation spots, while Drogheda sits just 1 point above the drop in 9th. Sligo Rovers could not break down Finn Harps at home as they also drew 0-0 that keeps the Bit O ’Red in the bottom 3 and leaves Harps 2 points above the bottom 3.

An action-packed first division have seen a 6-goal thriller on Thursday night as UCD came from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 against Cabinteely in Stradbrook. The result gave “Cabo” their best scoring season since becoming a member of the league of Ireland, while it also slowed the Students’ progress towards promotion. Waterford turned it on against Athlone on Friday night as a John Martin’s hat trick helped them to a resounding 6-1 win. It was the first time in 6 league games that Waterford scored more than once as they remain 2 points clear.

Manager-less Longford Town could only pick up a point at Tolka Park on Friday that seen Shelbourne reduced to 9 men in a game that seen no goals. Both sides have only 1 win each in their last 5 games and it is highly unlikely that either of them will break into the top 4. Cobh Ramblers stretch their unbeaten run to 4 games now as they beat Wexford 1-0 to keep the pressure on Waterford. It was a 4th clean sheet in a row for Stephen Henderson’s men as they look to try and get promotion back to the premier division.

So, what have we learned this week?

Maguire too hot for the champions.

The league title all but belongs to Cork City after they eased past Dundalk in their own back yard. This was largely thanks to the in-form and clinical Sean Maguire who scored a hat trick against his former side. The Champions couldn’t deal with the movement and energy of Maguire who has now confirmed a move to Preston North End in July. The talented striker has 16 league goals in 17 matches which is an exceptional return for the 23-year-old.

The Rebel Army go into the mid-season break a massive 18 points clear, having failed to win just once this season. John Caulfield is doing an incredible job that has seen him finish 2nd twice and lift the FAI Cup last season; and with the league title all but in the bag, can they go unbeaten all season? Time will tell; but the way in which they are going about their business is an eye opener to everybody in the league.

Drogheda struggling to find the net.

Every point is crucial when you’re in a race to beat the drop, and that is no different for Drogheda United when they managed a point in Dalymount Park on Friday night. The result was Pete Mahon’s sides 3rd consecutive 0-0 draw and the 5th game in a row in which his side has failed to score. Drogheda United last goal came back at the start of May in a 2-2 draw with Galway but since that Adam Wixted strike, the 2007 champions have come unstuck.

Drogheda started the season well with back to back victories, but have only won 2 of their next 15 games since which is form that could see you relegated. Miraculously however, they sit 1 point above the relegation places despite this form; but goals really need to start flowing if they are to avoid the drop. They have only found the net 13 times so far, which is the lowest of any club; and Pete Mahon will welcome this mid-season break.

Big win for Limerick.

Limerick have been finding it tough since returning to the premier division this year after easing to the first division title last season. Although they sit in 6th place and look rather comfortable, had they lost to Bray on Friday it could have been worse for new manager Neil McDonald. The big win however was McDonald’s 2nd since been appointed manager, and things are slowly looking up for Limerick fans.

A defeat would have left them in 6th place even with Bohemians and just 4 points from the drop zone. Thanks however to a very generous Bray backline and the extremely talented Chiedozie Ogbene 2 goals, Limerick can relax going into the break. For the new manager however, he will look at the results and performances and see that it isn’t good enough. He will need to address the back line that hasn’t kept a clean sheet since April; a run of 11 games in all competitions. They have only failed to score in 5 league games so attacking doesn’t seem a problem, it’s the other end that McDonald will have to fix.

Big problems for Roddy Collins.

3 games in and 3 defeats for Roddy Collins since his return to Athlone Town as he faces a massive job to turn things around. In these 3 games, they have conceded 10 times including the 6 this past weekend and sit in 7th position. With the match fixing scandal been dealt with, Roddy needs to get the players to focus on winning and it might take a couple of months to really steady the ship. He will look to bring in his own players when the window is open and will use this break to try to convince the calibre of player he needs.

Athlone have lost 4 straight games and have only 2 wins in their last 7. They have the worst defence in the league with 36 goals conceded in just 15 games, and have only managed to keep 2 clean sheets all season. When they return from the break they will face rock bottom Wexford and then Longford, and Roddy will feel he can take maximum points from them 2 fixtures.

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