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5 Things We Learned From Week 16 Of The SSE Airtricity League

5 Things We Learned From Week 16 Of The SSE Airtricity League
By John Dodge

We've had League of Ireland teams in action for the past 4 days.  Time for a little re-cap of what happened.

1) A great weekend for Shamrock Rovers

Rovers beat local rivals St Pats 2-1 to leapfrog them in the table (and have a game in hand too) and they're now only 3 points behind leaders Dundalk.  Next Sunday the sides meet in Tallaght and a win there would see Rovers level on points with all to play for. Rovers took a very early lead but were quickley pegged back and rode their luck in the first half to go in level. After going ahead early in the second half, they were the better team as Pats struggled to create anything, even with a man adantage for 15 minutes.  Stephen McPhail and Keith Fahey may have Ireland caps and Wembley finals under their belt but you'll be doing well to see two more stupid red cards than Saturday evening.  It leaves Pats in 4th and needing a lot of thigns to go their way to have any hope of retaining their title.

2) Cork missed a chance to go top

John Coleman has been Sligo Rovers boss for 2 games and both have ended scoreless. After Thursday's exploits in Lithuania, a point at home to high-flying Cork City is a pretty decent result. Cork were looking for a win to take them top of the league but couldn't get past Gary Rogers in goal for Sligo. Cork's 2 new strikers each played a half with John O'Flynn replacing Cillian Morrison.  It leaves Cork with the league's best defensive record and they now haven't conceded in 6 league and cup games. Sligo will be hoping to finish off Bangu on Thursday night in the Showgrounds for their first European win in 20 years.

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3) Signs of recovery for Derry City

A good weekend for Derry City started on Thursday night with a record home win in Europe as they thrashed Aberystwyth 4-0 to set up a probable 2nd round trip to Belarus.  On Sunday they kept another clean sheet and picked up their first away win of the season, beating Athlone Town 1-0 with a Patrick McEleneny free-kick. It hasn't been easy for new (-old?) boss Peter Hutton but 3 unbeaten in the league shows they're clearly going to be OK this season. Derry's next 4 league games are against teams in the bottom six so who knows where they'll be for the final run in.

4) The middle pack just keep beating each other

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With Athlone losing and UCD idle, it was a chance for some teams to make a move. After a recent good run, Limerick fell to their 2nd straight defeat (this time to Bohs). Bray lost at home to Drogheda to give them their 2nd win in 13 games. It leaves the bottom two as Athlone (8 points) and UCD (14 points). After that 4 points separate Derry (21) in 6th place and Bray (17) in 1oth. Remarkably given Drogheda's run of defeats, they still have more points (6) in the 2nd series of games than Bray (4) and UCD (3).

5) Longford Town will be hard to beat for the First Division title now

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The wheels have come off Shelbourne's tital challenge in the first division a little and on Saturday they lost 3-0 away to the new leaders Longford Town. Longford's last 7 games have seen 6 wins and a draw and 6 clean sheets. They have the division's top scorer in Davy O'Sullivan and they finally seem to have got their experienced players performing.  Of course they've been leading this division at various stages for the past 3/4 seasons so they know only too well it can all change but given the disparity in squads, surely Tony Cousins can't throw this one away?

Back to European action on Thursday with all 3 LOI sides in good stead in the Europa League.

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