No game for leaders Dundalk this week as they rest up prior to the 2nd leg of their Europa League tie. PLety of stuff to keep you interested in week 16 though.
1) Can Cork City go top?
Cork travel to Sligo Rovers on Sunday knowing a win will send them top after 18 games played. They'll be hoping Sligo haven't recovered from last night's exertions in the Europa League in Lithuania. Cork added 2 strikers on the first day of the transfer window as Cillian Morrison joined from UCD and John O'Flynn returns after 6 seasons in England. If O'Flynn is 75% of the player he was during his first spell in Cork, he could fire them all the way to the title. Recent years have seen the goals dry up for him though with only 23 in the last 4 seasons.
2) Will one of the Dublin contenders step up?
Only 2 points separate champions St Pats and 4th placed Shamrock Rovers (Rovers with a game in hand) as they prepare to do battle in Tallaght Stadium on Saturday. Pats are 4 points behind Dundalk but both sides know that they really can't afford to lose this game. Managers Buckley and Croly clearly haven't got on since the end of the 2012 season and they've both had bragging rights in the games since. Last season Rovers thunped Pats 3-0 and knocked them out of the FAI Cup. Pats won the last game in Tallaght 4-0 and won 1-0 earlier this season. Rovers have had trouble scoring goals while Pats' defensive worries are well documented. Whoever wins this game may go on to be top Dublin club this season.
3) Can Athlone Town make up more ground?
Athlone picked up their first way point last week and they've won 2 of their last 3 at home. On Sunday they face a Derry City fresh from their big win over Aberystwyth in the Europa League last night hoping to make even more ground on the sides above them. 2nd bottom UCD are idle so a win for Keith Long's men would bring them to within 3 points. Considering they lost their first 10 games, that's pretty astounding.
4) Can Drogheda stop the slump in Bray?
11 defeats in 12 games has seen Drogheda plummet down the table and another loss tonight in Bray would see them in further trouble. New manager Darius Kierans had a tought start last week at home to Sligo but Drogheda showed some fighting spirit after going 2 down early on and despite losing Paul Andrews before half time could have sneaked a point late on. Bray scored more last week than in their previous 8 games combined and the return of Jake Kelly from injury is a godsend to Alan Mathews. Kelly should have enough firepower to make sure bray are safe this season.
5) Can Longford Town topple Shelbourne in the First Division?
Shels young team have been top of the first division all season but their win at home to Wexford last week was their first in 4 games. They now lead pre-season favourites Longford Town by only 2 points and travel to play them on Saturday. Longford have finally sorted out their team and with Davy O'Sullivan again topping the scoring charts, Longford are the form team in the division. If they win tomorrow they'll lead Shels by a point and still have a game in hand. Surely even Tony Cousins couldn't throw that away?
Whatever happens, enjoy the games!