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The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: Title Races Real & Imagined Set To Dominate The Weeks Ahead

The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: Title Races Real & Imagined Set To Dominate The Weeks Ahead
By John Dodge Updated
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When we last spoke, Shamrock Rovers were wobbling and everyone else was on a break on the men's side. Shelbourne women were wobbling and Wexford Youths were surging.

Let's see how things went, and get you set for a huge weekend ahead. It's week 34 of the football season here and, unlike the weather, things are heating up.

Shamrock Rovers' path to the title

Rovers are five points ahead and have six games to play.

After defeating UCD in midweek, they'll face Sligo Rovers away on Saturday evening. The Rovers from Sligo always seem to give the Shamrock version a tough game in Sligo but they haven't beaten them since 2019 at home.

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Next week Rovers will host a Shelbourne side they failed to beat last week. After that Rovers have an away game against Drogheda (who seem to have some Indian sign over Rovers).

That's three games that don't look too difficult on paper, but Rovers (Shamrock) will have to improve on recent tired looking performances to win all 3. If they don't, Derry City are waiting in the wings.

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In-form Pats host in-form Derry

St Patrick's Athletic have won their last five league games. Derry City have won their last four games.ย  They both have claims to be the form team in the league.

Derry haven't conceded a league goal in those four games and they're unbeaten in 12 league games. Pats' 19 goals in their last ten games is more than any other club.ย  It's a remarkable turnaround for the Tim Clancy's side since they were beaten 4-0 by Derry in the first game between the clubs in Inchicore earlier this year.

While Derry are chasing a title, Pats are chasing Europe. The next eight days are huge for them. After tonight's big game with Derry, they have two games that will be billed as grudge matches; Monday v Shelbourne in Tolka Park and Friday in Oriel Park against Stephen O'Donnell's Dundalk.

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It's a tough ask but if the Saints can get seven points from those games, they'll be favourites for third place and that European spot.

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The Louth Derby

We've mentioned Dundalk's iffy recent form, but the good news for the Lilywhite is that most of those performances were away from home. They've only "won" four of their away games this year and one of them was the overturned 2-0 win for Sligo Rovers who played Adam McDonnell when he was suspended.

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It's a different story at home. Still unbeaten, they've won ten of 14 and tonight host Drogheda United looking to get back on track. Four of Dundalk's next five games are in Oriel Park and with the other away to Harps, Dundalk will believe they can pull away from Pats in fourth.

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Drogheda don't have much to play for but it's a huge game for their fans and the team have turned up for big games this year so far.

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The Relegation Dogfight

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Six games left for the bottom two and UCD lead Finn Harps by a point. Harps have been here before though and know what it takes to ease away from the bottom in the final month of the season. They host Shelbourne tonight while UCD travel across Dublin to face Bohemians.

The bottom two meet in Ballybofey on October 28th, the penultimate game of the season, and every point earned until then will be crucial. It wouldn't be that big of a surprise if neither side picked up anything before then.

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The Promotion Battle

Cork City may be stumbling over the line but they're still seven points clear of Galway with three games left to play (Galway have four to play). City are on their bye this weekend while Galway travel to Treaty United.

They'll obviously play until they're mathematically out but the play offs are looming. At the moment, these sides are scheduled to meet there too.

Treaty and Waterford are both play off bound but will have an eye on the upcoming FAI Cup semi final too. Waterford have sold out of home tickets for the visit of Shelbourne in what should be a cracker.

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A Legit Title Race

While we may be trying to hype the men's title race a little, nearly everybody outside of Derry thinks Shamrock Rovers will have the title wrapped up soon.

That isn't the case in the Women's National League.

Wexford Youths were surging and had opened up a four point lead over Shelbourne.ย  There's only four games left. The worry for Wexford is that the first of those games is against Athlone Town who thumped them in the FAI Cup semi final last week.

The last game is at home to Shelbourne. Shels should beat Cork City this weekend but they'll be hoping Wexford drop points to keep that last day decider still relevant.ย  They beat Bohs last week to reach the cup final again.

The Athlone Town v Wexford youths game is live on TG4 tomorrow. All the other games are on LOI TV.

We're at a critical juncture of the season. If there's a winner between Derry and Pats, that team will be confident they'll reach their goal for the season. A draw sees Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers happy. Rovers are the only team that can afford a slip up. A very interesting weekend awaits.

SEE ALSO: Former Ireland Midfielder Says Kenny's Team Are 'Sleepwalking' Into Euro Qualifiers

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