Week 18 was seen by many as a critical weekend in the 2013 Airtricity League title race. How critical remains to be seen, but here's our take-aways.
1) Pats are just about favourites.
For a half yesterday an under strength Pats side were in control away to champions Sligo. Ian Baraclough must've fired up his team as Sligo pressed for most of the second in search of an equaliser that arrived in the 82nd minute through Pats old boy Evan McMillan. The draw leaves Pats with a 4 point lead over the chasing pack with 13 games left. The fact that Pats could manage without 4 key players through injuries and suspension will please Liam Buckley. Sligo have now won only 3 of their last 12 league games. If they're to defend their title, they'll need to pick up wins fast.
2) Dundalk are clearly in the race for honours
Dundalk brushed aside a poor Bohs side and moved level on points with Sligo and Derry behind leaders St Pats. With no game for Pats, Derry or Sligo next week, Dundalk can move to within a point of the lead by winning down in Cork. Of all the teams involved in the title race, Dundalk have fewest games against fellow top 5 opponents and if their excellent away form continues, they'll have every chance
3) Shamrock Rovers continue to improve results-wise
In the 9 game of the second series so far, no team has won more points than Rovers.with 21 from a possible 27. They continue to be the only club with an unbeaten record at home. They beat Derry City 2-1 with Sean O'Connor's eye for the spectacular making up for lack of production from Rovers' strikers. After they play UCD next week, Rovers face Sligo, Dundalk and Pats in consecutive weeks. If they can win 7-9 points in those three games, they'll have to be considered contenders again
4) Bohs are in huge trouble.
Bohs now sit in 11th place only a point ahead of a revived Shels team. Bohs have won only 3 points from last 10 games and have scored only once in their last 6 games. If Aaron Callaghan can't put a stop to this, Bohs will be relegated for the first time in their history. Next week Bohs travel to free-scoring Bray (recently anyway...) while Shels host Limerick. With Shels holding the better goal difference, there's every chance Bohs will be bottom on Friday night
5) League of Ireland clubs are a far better twitter follow than most clubs world wide.
Man Utd made news last week for finally entering the twittersphere. They definitely won't be as entertaining as LOI clubs. Not only did you have the Shels tweet about Sligo's treatment of ExtraTime.ie but you also have brutally honest live updates like this from Drogheda United
Sava inexplicably handles outside the box under no pressure. UCD score from the free-kick. Unbelievable. 2-1 UCD.
— Drogheda United F.C. (@DroghedaUnited) July 14, 2013
Not to mention this bit of late night weirdness from Dundalk (since deleted);