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The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: European Realisations & A Possible Title Race?

The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: European Realisations & A Possible Title Race?
By John Dodge Updated

This week saw the Premier Division title race tightened up slightly, the Women's National League get new leaders and this weekend we may have a winner in the First Division.  Some clubs are in the middle of a two week break, others are up to their eyes in games.

Let's get you up to speed.

There are levels to European football

Shamrock Rovers suffered a three-goal defeat away to KAA Gent last night in the Europa Conference League. It's the third time Rovers have faced a team from a league ranked ahead of the LOI away from home and they've lost all three by a combined 0-10 score line.

Mistakes like the slip by Daniel Cleary probably aren't punished by clubs here.  Rovers reacted well in the second half and they'll be delighted to see Jack Byrne getting back to full fitness ahead of their busy end to the season.

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Rovers have four domestic games before their next European game, away to Molde.

Derry vs Rovers is ramping up

Two 1-0 home wins this week for Derry City saw the Candystripes move to within a point of Shamrock Rovers at the top of the table.

Rovers, of course, have two games in hand and are still clear favourites but it seems Derry have recovered from their mid-season wobble. On Sunday, the sides meet in an FAI Cup quarter final in the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium that could have sold out two or three times over according to reports.

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A win for the home side will see their confidence soar and maybe, just maybe, they'll believe they can catch the Hoops in the league too.  If the visitors win, they'll believe the double is on.

Cork City can clinch the First Division tonight

Since July, Galway United have played four league games and have two points to show for their endeavours.

Tonight, they host Cork City and a win for the Leesiders will see them clinch the First Division title and the sole automatic promotion spot. They've had a couple of stumbles along the way but City have been the class of the division throughout and if they don't clinch promotion tonight, it won't be long before it follows.

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Galway, on the other hand, will need to vastly improve on recent efforts if they're to challenge for promotion through the play offs.

Wexford Youths are the new WNL leaders

For the first time this season, Shelbourne are off the top of the WNL. The champions lost last week to Peamount United and Wexford Youths beat Cork City 5-1 to leap frog them.

Tomorrow sees Wexford host winless Treaty United while Shelbourne travel to Athlone Town for a tricky tie. That game will be live on TG4 as they continue their excellent coverage of the WNL.

Dundalk's sticky spell continues

Dundalk lost 3-2 last week at UCD to fall into striking range for St Pats in the hunt for European spots. It was the fourth time in five games that Dundalk have conceded at least twice.

The Sligo Rovers game may have been changed to a 3-0 victory but the creaky Dundalk defence was there to see for all. They have really missed Mark Connolly since his loan end/switch to Derry - see also Derry's upturn in form.

This weekend they'll travel to Waterford for an FAI Cup quarter final that looked easier when the draw was made. The Blues deservedly beat St Pats in the previous round and have quick forwards that can exploit some of the slower Dundalk defenders. Last year Stephen O'Donnell's St Pats team tailed off in the league too before winning the FAI Cup.

You suspect Dundalk fans would happily accept a Cup win over a third place finish this year.

Cup semi spots on the line

For Shelbourne and Bohemians, the rest of the season rests of Sunday's FAI Cup quarter final. Safe in mid table, only one of the two Northside clubs will have anything to play for after the Cup game. Shels have won 2 league games since May - against Finn Harps and UCD - while Bohs form was enough to see Keith Long mutually consented. The sides met only a month ago with Shelbourne fighting back from a goal and a man down to earn a point in a 1-1 draw. The game is most remembered for Damien Duff's chest thumping celebration. He might run around stark naked if they get the win on Sunday.

In the other tie - the forgotten tie - Treaty United host UCD.  It's a game between two clubs with the smallest fan bases but a cup semi final in Limerick may be the spark needed to get things going there. Some from the area may have taken interest in three more arrests this week in the alleged match fixing focused Operation Brookweed. We can't say much else on that topic for obvious reasons...

SEE ALSO: Swansea Manager 'Disappointed' With Stephen Kenny Comments On Michael Obafemi


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