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5 Things To Look Out For In Week 22 Of The Airtricity League

By John Dodge
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10 or less games left for most teams in the Airtricity League and every slip up could be crucial. Here's what we're looking forward to this weekend.

1) Who will win the real 'Dublin Decider'?

Richie Ryan signed for Shamrock Rovers midweek, right from under the nose of his previous club Sligo Rovers - pic; Shamrock Rovers

Leaders St Patrick's Athletic travel up the Luas line to pay Shamrock Rovers in what Rovers are selling as the real 'Dublin Decider'.  Rovers come into the game on the back of a 3-1 defeat away to Dundalk and are down to the bare bones in defence due to injuries and suspension.  Pats despite being top, will never feel comfortable travelling to Tallaght as their record there is horrendous. In 8 league games since it opened, Pats have won 1 and drawn 1 from 8 games. Last time Rovers won 3-0 comfortably and had some pundits extolling the virtues of Trevor Croly as manager.  Things have change quite a bit since then and Rovers are in 5th, 11 points behind Pats.  Pats have only one win against top 5 opposition this season though and if they've to press on with their title ambition, you feel this has to change.

2) Will Dundalk go top tonight?

Patrick Hoban won the Airtricity League POTM for Jully as Dundalk surged into title contention - Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

4 wins and a draw in their last 5 have seen Dundalk move to within a point of Pats.  With the Saints having a tricky looking tie in Tallaght, a Dundalk win away to Shelbourne could see them go top for the first time in over a decade. We mentioned last week that Dundalk were flying slightly under the radar but they've rightly been lauded this past week. They face the other in-form side in the league in Shelbourne. The 10 points earned from their last 4 games equals the tally earned in the previous 19 games as John McDonnell continues to stamp his authority on the team. Shels aren't safe but they've given themselves a great chance now when things look dire 2 months ago. Bottom side Bohs are the only member of the bottom 4 not to be playing a top 4 side though.


3) Can Derry City stop the rot away to UCD?

Derry lost at home to Drogheda in the EA Sports Cup semi on Monday. It's always a shock when Derry lose in that competition. - Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Derry City have lost 6 of their last 7 games in all competitions (including Europa League). They travel to UCD knowing that anything other than a win could see them lose touch in the title race. Top scorer Rory Patterson won't get a better chance to get out of his mini-drought than against a UCD side that has conceded a league high 52 goals this season.  That includes a 6-0 Derry win from the first series of games. UCD can score goals too though (their 35 this season is the same as fellow strugglers Bohs and Shels combined).  Their meeting in Derry saw a 4-2 win for UCD so could we see 6 goals again?


4) Can Sligo Rovers continue their fight back?

A fit & healthy Danny North could be the difference for Sligo as they look to retain the title - Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Last week's win in Derry was huge for the champions. A defeat would have seen them in 4th and 7 points behind. Tomorrow they'll host Bray Wanderers knowing they could be within a point of the lead if results go their way. It stopped a run of 5 games without a win, and now they're looking for only their 2nd home win in 6 league games.  Danny North scoring the winner last week will be a huge boost for them though as it was hist first league goal since returning from his year-long injury absence.


5) The Midlands Clasico Could go a long way to deciding the first division title

[Watch Video]

Over the last 6 games Athlone Town have gained more than 8 points on Longford Town and now lead the division by 2. The video above shows Longford's call to arms and they'll need all the help they can get to stop Roddy Collins' march towards promotion. An incredible turnaround as Longford were 6 points clear of the pack a month ago.


Whatever happens, enjoy the games!

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