Another weekend has entered the books and it was another win for rampant Cork City who came from behind to beat Derry at Maginn Park. It’s now 18 wins from 19 games, and they sit comfortably 15 points clear, with a game in hand. Dundalk are still doing what they must do in case the impossible happens to Cork, as the champions eased to a 4-0 win at home to Finn Harps; and they then beat Galway 2-0 last night too. It’s highly unlikely Cork will slip up, but Dundalk will keep fighting and have now scored 12 goals in their last 3 games. They are hitting form at the right time it seems with European games on the horizon against Rosenberg.
Bray retrieved their 2nd consecutive win as they beat relegation strugglers Galway; that seen Shane Keegan’s men go bottom. Bohemians kept their impressive run going as they moved into the top half of the table, with beating Sligo Rovers at Dalymount Park. Out of the bottom 5, only St Pats picked up points as they came from 2-0 down to draw away to Limerick which lifted the Saints off the bottom.
UCD condemned leaders Waterford to their first defeat in 16 games, as they won 3-2 at the Belfield Bowl to move them now into 2nd, just 4 points adrift. Cobh Ramblers couldn’t take advantage as they surprisingly lost 1-0 at home to Shelbourne. Roddy Collins is still without a win as his side could only manage a 2-2 daw in the midlands derby against Longford Town. There was a surprise for all of us when Wexford retrieved a win against Cabinteely, for only their 2nd win of the season.
So, what have we learned this week?
Can Cork go unbeaten?
This current run from the Rebel Army is quite extraordinary as they continue to go from strength to strength in search of a first league title since 2005. The voyage that John Caulfield’s men are on is coming to an end as they will finally get their hands on that league title, barring a monumental collapse. Sitting 15 points clear with 14 games left, Cork need just 8 wins to become champions, (if Dundalk also keep winning), if they don’t; they will be champions sooner.
This is truly amazing from the champions elect and with possibly being named champions in July, can they keep the hunger to go unbeaten all season? Time will tell. However, on Friday night, they trailed for all of 13 minutes and then went on to win with 10 men after Jimmy Keohane was sent off. They share a bond of belief, hunger and desire and that alone mixed with quality leads us to believe there is no reason why they shouldn’t stay unbeaten. Questions will be raised of how they will get on without Sean Maguire when he moves to England, and with the European games as they travel to Estonia; but make no mistake – there is something special happening at Turners Cross.
The battle for 3rd.
There is plenty of interesting battles going on throughout the league this season and there’s one that’s going relatively unnoticed – the fight for the European spot. Bray Wanderers are currently occupying 3rd after back to back wins, and they sit just 1 point above Shamrock Rovers. Derry City have lost 2 games in a row, having gone 10 games unbeaten, and are now 5th; 5 points adrift of Bray.
Derry however have a game in hand that will make it real tight, should the Candystripes pick up the 3 points. The Seagulls will see themselves as favourites to claim that 3rd place as both Rovers and Derry face European games that will test their squads. Harry Kenny’s men however will need to take advantage when the time comes, but face in form Dundalk this Friday in a massive game for both sides.
Stephen Bradley’s men are the form team with just 1 defeat in their last 5 games and meet relegation strugglers Sligo on Sunday. All 3 mangers will consider looking into the transfer market in July to add some strength that will help them get that 3rd place; but one thing is for sure, this will go right down to the wire.
Galway troubles continue.
After relegation to the first division with Wexford last season, the appointment of Shane Keegan to Galway was somewhat of a surprise. The pressure was immediately put on Keegan when the FAI had announced that 3 teams would go down, and he is yet to get the tribesmen out of the drop zone. Despite trying to play football the right way, Keegan is missing the quality of a goal scorer that can move them away from the drop zone.
Vinny Faherty has found the net only twice this season, while Ronan Murray is the top scorer on just 6 goals. Galway have won only 2 of in their 20 league games and are bottom on 15 points, which is largely thanks to having 9 draws; the highest in the league. Of the last 53 league games of which Shane Keegan has managed, he’s won just 8 times, so he is yet to get that winning feeling he had in 2015 when he guided Wexford to the first division title.
This Friday sees a massive game for Galway and their opponents St Pats at Richmond Park, where both teams need 3 points. With just 3 points separating 8th to 12th, any points are crucial but gain all 3 – and you are on the up.
Cobh losing grip.
For the first time this season, Cobh Ramblers lost 2 league games in a row and are 4 points adrift of Waterford. What will also worry manager Stephen Henderson is they have scored just 3 times in their last 5 games and will need to be more clinical if they are to get their promotion bid back on track.
It was their 1st defeat at home all season and only the 2nd time that they failed to score in front of their own crowd when Shelbourne won 1-0 on Saturday. After the game, Henderson issued an apology to the fans for a poor performance which shows you the level of where he expects his squad to be. Cobh are at home again this weekend against Athlone, who haven’t won in 6 games or kept a clean sheet since April 21st, so Henderson will certainly aim for 3 points.