The 2019 SSE Airtricity League season has reached Easter, a major milestone. Did you predict that the top two at this stage would be Shamrock Rovers and Derry – rather than Cork and Dundalk? There’s a long way to go yet, but based on performances so far Rovers deserve to be way out in front.
Dundalk are back in fourth, nicely posed to reel in those above them, and Monday night’s win over Bohemians moved them closer to the DalymountPark outfit in the table. They have a game in hand over Rovers which could reel in the Tallaght outfit a bit more if it is converted into a win.
As for Cork, who’d have predicted that they would be mired in the bottom half of the table at this juncture, essentially involved in a scrap to avoid the relegation play-off spot?
Cork aside, the relegation battle is settling out along the lines I’d have expected. No disrespect to Finn Harps, but it was always going to be a tough ask for them to avoid bottom spot in such a tough division. Having won last season’s First Division, UCD were perhaps better equipped to potentially stay up and as things stand after Monday night’s fine win over Cork they have pulled right up behind the Leesiders and Sligo and Waterford [who drew with each other].
Overall the 51 games so far played in the Premier Division have yielded 115 goals, an average of 2.3 per game.
Down in the First Division things are even more interesting, and a mighty battle for automatic promotion and the play-off spots is brewing up. Longford are leading the way and have been the best team in the division that I have seen.
Cabinteely are just behind, the surprise package of this year and their fine season is great to see and thoroughly deserved. Limerick, Drogheda, Shelbourne and Bray Wanderers were always going to be in the mix for a top-four finish too and this is proving to be the case.
Having come down after a 14-season run in the top flight Bray are finding it tough going in the lower division; consistency is hard to find. As a Wanderers fan I wouldn’t be too disappointed if we don’t come straight back up; my personal opinion is that we need a couple of seasons out of the top division to find ourselves again.
With 103 goals in the 39 games so far for an average of 2.6 per game, the First Division is out-striking the Premier Division. Between the two divisions there have been 218 goals in 90 games for an average of 2.4 per game. Good value for money for sure and the increased crowds would seem to agree.
Hopefully the gates won’t be affected by the goings on at Abbotstown; I promised myself I wouldn’t get into that so I’ll sign off now.
Happy Easter to all.