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

Cork City recorded their 22nd league win of the season as they moved a set closer to the league title. They took all 3 points at United Park, thanks to Stephen Dooley’s 54th minute goal which now leaves them 17 points clear; with a game in hand. Reigning champions Dundalk condemned more misery on Limerick as they eased to a 3-0 win at Oriel Park.

Derry City have taken full control of the 3rd spot after beating Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght on Friday. The Hoops now trail behind Derry by 8 points but have a game in hand. Shiels men are in excellent form and have won 4 straight games without conceding a goal; and face Dundalk in their next 2 games in the league and the FAI Cup.

Bray Wanderers had suffered 4 straight defeats heading into Friday’s game against Bohemians, but they stopped the rot with a 0-0 draw. That result keeps the Seagulls just 1 point above their opponents in 5th, but a place in the top 3 looks over for Harry Kenny’s side as they are 9 points back from Derry.

St Pats switched places with Finn Harps after they picked up a point on Saturday night against Sligo Rovers. Liam Buckley has turned things right around and Pats now go unbeaten in 4 games for the 2nd time this season. Finn Harps suffered a 3-1 defeat to a resurgent Galway in Ballybofey, that now leaves Ollie Horgan’s side in 9th; but they do have a game in hand over their relegation rivals.

Galway’s 5th win of the season helped them jump over Sligo into 10th and just 2 points from safety. The Tribesmen entertain Shamrock Rovers next, while Drogheda travel to Bray; and there will be a massive 6 pointer in Inchicore when St Pats host Finn Harps when the league resumes after the cup games this weekend. Sligo face Bray, and then travel to Cork in the space of 3 days; which will all but define their season.

Cobh Ramblers where the only side to pick up 3 points in the first division this weekend as they beat Longford at St Colman’s Park. Waterford drew away at Cabinteely that seen their lead cut to 7 points, with just 5 games to go. The point for Pat Devlin’s side keeps them in 4th, but also extended their unbeaten run to 5 games; which is their best ever since becoming a league of Ireland club.

Georgie Kelly got his 14th league goal of the season that grabbed a point for UCD in the Dublin Derby against Shelbourne. The Students are now 5 points adrift of Cobh in 2nd having only won just once of their last 5 games. Athlone Town and manager Roddy Collins wait for a league win stretches to 12 games as they were held 1-1 at basement side, Wexford.

So, what have we learned this week?

Drogheda need a miracle.

It was April 21st that Drogheda United last tasted victory, a run of 15 games without a win, that now sees them 9 points from safety. Pete Mahon side now look like they will be going straight back down to the first division at the first time of asking. In those 15 winless games, Drogs have kept just 3 clean sheets and scored just 6 goals.

They have the worse attack with only 16 goals scored, and the worst defence with 49 conceded in just 25 games. Their top scorer is Adam Wixted with 3 goals in 18 games, but he hasn’t scored since his brace against Galway at the beginning of May. Pete Mahon will know that his side is all but gone and must use the remainder of the season to try something different with an eye on next year. The Drogs can take their eye off the league this weekend when they face non-league Evergreen in the FAI Cup, where they will hope to end this dismal winless run.

Ronan Murray’s quality sparks the Galway revival.

So much was expected from the exciting winger when he signed on the dotted line for Shane Keegan at the beginning of the season. The manager knew exactly what he was getting himself in for when agreeing a deal with the former Notts County and Ipswich Town man. The 25-year-old has played more this season than in the last 2 years and the Tribesmen are reaping the rewards.

It was a must win for Galway on Friday night and thanks to yet another sumptuous free kick from Murray, they got just that. He would finish the game with a brace having rounded Finn Harps keeper- Ciaran Gallagher and finished coolly for a 3-1 win. Technically excellent, superb over the dead ball and good in 1v1 situations, he sends all his opponents home with headaches

Galway face Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians and Derry City over their next 3 league games and they will need all of Murray’s skill and talent if they are to get anything and stay in the premier division.

McEleney magic in routine win for the outgoing champions.

So often this season, Patrick McEleney has entertained league of Ireland fans up and down the country. This past Friday night he was at it again with a superbly taking free kick from the right side of the box, he stepped up and found the top corner of the opposite side of the goal. He’s been rumoured to have interest from some clubs in England and a move certainly awaits with his current form.

He has already reached the same amount of goals he got in 2010 with Derry City (9) in 21 appearances. Stephen Kenny is yet again getting the best out of his magician but with the league title heading to Cork, Kenny will still hope to hold onto McEleney. With the FAI Cup and the league cup still on offer, the manager won’t want any damage done to his squad, if they are to make this season successful.

Cobh to fall short.

When Stephen Henderson was appointed manager last year, he would have targeted a possible playoff spot to get his side back into the premier division. However, that was taking away from his side as the ridiculous idea from the FAI to have two 10 team leagues for the 2018 season. This mean’t that only the champions of the first division would be promoted and the rest left waiting.

The job Henderson has done since returning to the dugout has been remarkable, and he has Cobh sitting in 2nd. Although there is still 15 points left to play for and are currently 7 points adrift, Waterford have too much quality to let that lead slip. They missed out on the playoff spots last season by just 2 points, and finished 3rd, but the progression is there to see as they are sitting comfortably in 2nd.

With 10 teams making up the second-tier next season, it will become that much more difficult to get out of. The manager knows that if he can keep his current squad and add a bit more quality, then they will certainly put up a fight for promotion in 2019.

Image Credit: RTE

Aaron Doherty

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