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5 Things To Look Out For In Week 20 Of The SSE Airtricity League

John Dodge
By John Dodge
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It's a HUGE week in the League of Ireland. Here's the highlights to come;

1) The top 2 clash in Cork

Dundalk are generally regarded as the class of the league this season and they rightfully sit on top of the league standings. For months pundits have been predicting Cork City's team to run out of steam and fall away. While they lost last week away to Bohs, they know that if they win tonight these sides will enter the last 11 games of the season level on points.  The game is likely to be a sell out (or close to it) and Setanta Sports are broadcasting it live.  Can Dundalk's creative players such as the brilliant Richie Towell do enough to break down Cork's rugged defence?  A win leaves them 6 points clear and could anyone catch them from here?  it should be a cracker.

2) The bottom 2 meet in Bray

Athlone Town have been bottom of the table all season. They didn't pick up their first point until their 11th game of the season. That was against tonight's opponents Bray Wanderers.  Since that game Athlone have picked up 10 more points and Bray only 4 more.  While Athlone may still lie 6 points behind Bray, they know a win tonight and a continuation of both clubs' form will see Athlone overtake them pretty soon.  While Athlone have strengthened in the window (signing players like Eric Foley), Bray will once again rely on their young players to get them out of trouble. If they lose tonight,  it's hard to see them turning it around. UCD are level with Bray and they face Drogheda this evening.

3) Can Pats or Sligo make a move?


Pats go into the weekend in 3rd place but 9 points behind leaders Dundalk. They'll be hoping for a string finish to the season and hope that Dundalk and Cork lose their way.  Sligo are a further 11 points back and they're finsihed with the cups. When they lost players of the qualify of Ndo, Djilali and Gaynor this week, many thought it was merely a salary dump. Yesterday Aaron Greene left Sligo for Inchicore and those suspicions were looking good.  Late last night Sligo signed Eamon Zayed (on loan from Shamrock Rovers) and today they've signed Daryl Kavanagh (who effectively swaps with Aaron Greene). They may not have much to play for but they're not giving in yet.

4) New look Limerick host Shamrock Rovers


Limerick were the biggest players in this week's (busier-than-normal) transfer deadline fun. They added Lee Lynch (Pats), Kieran Djilali, Joseph Ndo (both Sligo) amongst others. They should be safe this year but these signings give new manager Martin Russell a chance to build towards next season already.  They'll face a Shamrock Rovers side that, depending on who you listen to, are either in a title race or in crisis.  Rovers assistant John Gill called Alan Cawley's criticism of Trevor Croly disgusting and they can point to Rovers superb away record as signs they're improving.  However Cawley, and many, many more, point to last week's insipid Rovers display and the fact they've scored in only 1 of their last 5 home games as proof Croly still isn't there yet. As ever results change moods and a win tonight should give him more breathing space.

5) Derry/Bohs and the improving managers


Derry City and Bohemians meet with both teams showing far better form in recent weeks. Having flirted with relegation, Bohs are now unbeaten in 6 while Derry have scored 11 goals in their last 2 league games. They've rewarded manager Peter Hutton with a new 2 year contract and if Bohs continue to improve, there's no doubt they'll look to keep Heary on board too. Neither side has much to play for in the league but both will hope for decent cup runs soon.

Whatever happens, enjoy the games!


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