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Dodge's League of Ireland Recap Week 6: Winning The International Break

Dodge's League of Ireland Recap Week 6: Winning The International Break
John Dodge
By John Dodge
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Where did week five go?, nobody was heard asking. It's been a strange couple of weeks since our last recap. The international break saw things quieten down in the Premier Division, until ramping up this week with some huge news. The women's division had a very strange double series of games (and now they're on their own break).   So let's get everybody caught up before we look at a very interesting week ahead

League of Ireland recap: Week Six

The Big Talking Point: When will Shamrock Rovers come good?

If you ask Stephen Bradley this question, he'll answer that they are playing well. He'll argue that Rovers could have won every game they've played so far. He's probably right, and yet they remain winless. They still have exceptional players everywhere but it is in defence that they appear to be struggling most. Sure they had some suspensions to deal with, but they've been finished a few weeks now. Last year Rovers conceded only ten times in the whole league season in Tallaght. This year, they've conceded eight in three games. Last time out Pats came into the game with three goals in five games, and scored twice against the Champions.

Rovers are ten points behind Bohemians and 7 points behind new title favourites Derry City. Dundalk sit a point behind Derry in third and host the Champions tonight in Oriel Park. The Lilywhites have only lost once at home since Stephen O'Donnell took over ahead of the 2022 season, with Rovers failing to score there last season. It's a very tough game for Rovers, and they'll follow that up with a trip to league leaders Bohemians next week. It seemed unimaginable that they would start the season without a win in eight games but here we are, discussing that every possibility.

The Moment Of The Week

Last weekend's games in the LOI Women's Division saw two big shocks. Treaty United ended a run of 41 losses and 4 defeats to pick up their first win since June 2021 when they beat Sligo Rovers 2-1 away. While still a shock, Sligo Rovers remain pointless so I'd argue that Galway United's win away to champions Shelbourne was even bigger. It was looking like they were set to fall even further behind on Wednesday when they went a goal down early to Peamount United before storming back to win 4-1 and keep themselves in the title race.


The only side to win twice over the two series (Cork City v Wexford was postponed to keep the Turners Cross pitch nice for the Ireland men's under 21 team) was Galway United. Peamount still lead the league on 12 points but there's five teams within 3 points of them; Shelbourne, Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians and Galway. Rovers have played one less than the rest, while Wexford on six points have played two less than the majority. The league is on an international break now and the World Cup looms large, but we realistically have 5/6 teams who could challenge for the title this year.

The Happiness Index


Oh man. It might be easier to make an unhapppiness index, but here's the five happiest fan bases across the leagues this week across the international break

  1. Galway United – Aside from the women's team shocking Shelbourne, the men's team have won their opening six games. Most pundits expect that to be seven-in-a-row tonight away to Athlone
  2. Bohemians – Top of the table for the men. Women's team in the mix. Big 7 days for the men with a trip to Sligo tomorrow and a derby with Rovers next Friday
  3. Kerry FC – They've only one point so far but they've sold out their opening three games. It really is an encouraging start for the club.
  4. Dundalk – A big game tonight with Shamrock Rovers in Oriel, but Dundalk have won three in the last four, and the game they didn't win was a draw in Derry.
  5. Shelbourne – A draw with Shamrock Rovers was followed by a win in Cork.

Media Spotlight of the Week: Welcome Virgin Media

Virgin Media announced this week that they're showing Easter Friday's game between Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers live on VM2. It's the first live game under the Virgin banner and the first in nearly 20 years if you include it's predecessor TV3.  All parties were keen to stress this is a one off, but credit must be paid to the league's administration for getting one of our show piece games on TV. They'll mention that the TG4 deal with WNL/WLOI has grown from 4 games to 12 in a couple of years and they'll hope that Virgin can come on board more regularly.


Ironically enough, it comes at a time when RTE's coverage of live games is pretty regular. Between the broadcasters, we have a game every Friday between St Patrick's Day and the 28th April. That weekend is free so maybe Virgin will show one of the Louth Derby, the battle of the Rovers or Derry v St Pats. The week after that has live games on Monday and Friday. It remains to be seen if TV crowds can watch those attending the games.

Kenny Cunningham’s Eyebrow Raise of the Week

Last weekend, Waterford's game against Treaty was postponed. The pre-season favourites for promotions already sit 10 points behind leaders Galway United. The extra weekend without a game was obviously used for contemplation by the Fleetwood Town owned club and manager Danny Searle was sacked.  Within 48 hours, Keith Long was announced as his replacement.  Long, of course, brings a wealth of experience from his time with Bohemians. He's the eight permanent manager since Alan Reynolds left in 2020.

Reynolds was hugely popular with the fan base and he's widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the country. It had been reported that his role with the Ireland Under 21s was the primary reason he was unwilling to take up the manager's role. It is now being reported that Reynolds wants to be back in Waterford for family reasons and he is set to leave Derry City and join Long's staff in Waterford. It's quite the coaching turnaround for Waterford. After years of experiments with English based coaches, they will now have two of the most respected names in Irish football. Catching Galway is a huge challenge.


Predicting the Game of the Week

Shelbourne v Derry City is the live RTE 2 game this weekend and St Pats have a must win game against UCD at home, but the Game of the Week is undoubtedly in Oriel Park with Dundalk v Shamrock Rovers. Waterford v Finn Harps is the pick of the First Division ties.


Ticketing issues continue to hole the clubs back with the majority of clubs now selling all their home tickets. Away tickets for some games are like gold dust with St Pats and Shamrock Rovers both selling out their Dalymount allocation in minutes. On Leeside, a debut has sprung on how to improve the atmosphere. Owner Dermot Usher spoke to fans last week and they'll issue wristbands for a singing section in the Shed in Turners Cross. Hard to see how that'll be implemented without any issues so we might come back to it next week.




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