A huge weekend in the Airtricity League. Here's our take-aways.
1) Dundalk continue to surprise pundits and bookmakers
Dundalk have won 10 of their last 12 Airtricity League ties and have now beaten Sligo and leaders St Pats twice each. Despite being only a point behind Pats, and 6 points ahead of Sligo (albeit with Dundalk playing a game more), bookmakers odds suggest Sligo have a better chance of winning the title. Stephen Kenny, and the huge Dundalk crowd that the team have awakened believe otherwise. Dundalk's 2 goal win over Sligo on Friday was again set up by a Pa Hoban goal. Sligo Rovers were approaching even money as favourites for this game.
2) Pats still the favourites. Just
Pats huffed and puffed against a well organised Shels team but a goal by Stephen Maher was enough to keep Pats top for another week. If Pats do win the title, it may well be their ability to beat the strugglers in this division. Their record against teams from the bottom 7 is 15 wins and 2 draws in 17 games. Pats have 5 of those games left in their remaining 9. For now, all eyes on 20 September when Dundalk travel to inchicore.
3) Trevor Croly is under pressure.
He might not be sacked yet, but Trevor Croly is under pressure at Shamrock Rovers. Rovers are 16 points off the bottom of the league and 17 off the top. For a club with the resources of Shamrock Rovers, that can't be acceptable. Croly's recent interviews have pointed to success in the minor cup competitions where Rovers abundance of good players can overcome most other teams squads. In the league however it's a different story as his tinkering has yet to bring sustained success. As pointed out by the excellent Shamrock Rovers website, last Friday's 1-0 defeat to Bohemians was the 36th consecutive changed line up for Rovers. They have the FAI Cup against Sheriff to distract them this week.
4) Derry may be slipping out of the title race
4 defeats in 6 games, and indeed 4 defeats in the last 6 home games have seen Derry city slip away behind the leaders. They're now 8 behind St Pats but they do have to play each other twice in the last 9 games. If the Candystripes are to have any chance of winning the league, they must be the Dubliners when they meet in the re-arranged game on September 3rd. Their 2-0 defeat at home to Drogheda meant Mick Cooke's side are now 6 unbeaten. They play Sligo and Dundalk in the next 3 weeks or so and they could have a big part to play in the title race.
5) Relegation will go to the final day.
Bohs huge win over cross-city rivals Shamrock Rovers delighted their fans (and their twitter account) for many reasons.
— Bohemian FC (@bfcdublin) August 16, 2013
Apart from the nice dig at their rivals, the important bit is the believe that they can stay up. Shels fans have the same believe after their recent good form despite back-to-back losses to the top 2. UCD fans should be feeling somewhat confident too. They had a superb 3-1 in Thomond Park against Limerick to leap 5 points clear of the relegation places. With only 8 games left for all the times, that gap could be crucial. So it's left to Bray Wanderers to feel disheartened this week as they slump to the bottom. But Bray have been bottom of the table plenty of times in recent years and they never, ever go down. We'll see how it pans out soon enough.