Week 14 was a long one.
We all waited on Stephen Bradley to leave Shamrock Rovers so we could publish our (what surely would have been award winning) mini-biography on his time with Rovers ,only for him to ruin it all by remaining at the Tallaght Stadium.
And how was his selfishness rewarded? By Rovers going top for the first time in a couple of months. Won't somebody think of the part time LOI correspondents?!
Anyway, here's the week that was.
The best week in recent Shelbourne history
Late last week, news broke that Dublin City Council (DCC) were abandoning their plans to re-zone the land on which Tolka Park sits so they could sell it to developers. The full details haven't been released yet, but the land will continue to be used for sporting pursuits now.
Shels have a long way to go to securing Tolka Park but their owners have already submitted a proposal to DCC to buy it back. Where this leaves the redevelopment of Dalymount Park (to be funded by the sale of Tolka) is anyone's guess at this stage.
Either way, it's a victory for Shels fans who fought against the wishes of their own club (at least initially) to save Tolka Park.
— Shelbourne FC (@shelsfc) May 7, 2022
They followed that up with Joey O'Brien's men's team earning their first home win of the season by beating Sligo Rovers 2-1 on Friday with Damien Duff serving the first of his three game suspension in the stands.
The women's team took control of the WNL by beating closest rivals Peamount United 1-0 on the Saturday. They now have a five point lead at the top of the league.
It was a great week to be a Shels fan.
Shamrock Rovers ascend to the top of the league
⚽️ Burke 54'
⚽️ Burke 56'
⚽️ Burke 69'
All our goals from last night's 3-1 win v Sligo at Tallaght Stadium 👇 pic.twitter.com/xxyEQtJmZ2
— Shamrock Rovers FC ☘️ (@ShamrockRovers) May 10, 2022
With Stephen Bradley staying put, it was back to normal for Rovers with another two wins over the weekend. They've know won seven of the last eight with Finn Harps and Sligo Rovers succumbing to 3-1 defeats in Tallaght.
They raced to an early three-goal lead on Friday v Harps and coasted home without being threatened. Monday saw Sligo put up a sterner test but four half time subs did the trick for Bradley. One of them, Graham Burke, scored a hat-trick 25 minutes later.
If Rovers beat second place Derry City on Friday night, they'll follow that up with games against three of the bottom four teams. Friday night's top of the table clash is live on RTÉ 2 and should be a cracker.
Derry City have a little wobble
— Derry City FC (@derrycityfc) May 10, 2022
A weekend at home against a pair of inconsistent sides from Dublin saw the Foylesiders only earn 2 two points.
Bohemians left on Friday night feeling they deserved more with Derry's equaliser coming from a very soft penalty and the Dubliners having the better of the chances. St Pats' visit on Monday night saw Derry dominated, but an usually defensive Saints team (understandable seeing as Derry beat them 4-0 in Inchicore only ten days previously) worked hard to earn a point.
An injury to second half sub Patrick McEleney only compounded their frustration on the night. They're now without the two most high profile captures of the off season in McEleney and Michael Duffy. Friday night in Tallaght is the perfect game to bounce back in.
UCD enjoying the last of Colm Whelan
🎥 | GOAL
Game on? 😳
Lovely finish from @FAIreland under-21 Colm Whelan, as @UCDAFC pull one back against @DundalkFC
Watch live | https://t.co/cz590gbQQQ 📺#LOI | #LOITV pic.twitter.com/n2mUfWBpMi
— SSE Airtricity League (@SSEAirtricityLg) May 6, 2022
Colm Whelan has been attracting the attention of scouts since he burst into the UCD first team some years back. He's been a mainstay of the Ireland under-21 squad and is still excelling in a poor UCD side this year.
On Friday night he scored twice as Dundalk threw away a two goal to stay without a win away from home. Of course, the students still don't have a win at home or away, but it isn't down to Whelan. All reports indicate he'll be leaving the club this summer to progress his career.
They'll miss him and quality like his opening goal on Friday.
Cork City show resolve
— Cork City FC (@CorkCityFC) May 7, 2022
With Galway United winning easily in Cobh, Cork couldn't afford any slip-ups in Athlone. They were 1-0 down almost immediately and without playing well, clawed themselves back into the game in the second half.
Aaron Bolger left it late before scoring his brilliant winner but it gave City a chance to show another side of their game. They've only dropped two points in the last 11 games - a shocking 0-0 draw at home to struggling Bray.
Struggling Bray Wanderers
Never seen this in my life but just sums up the whole toxic environment at @BrayWanderers, surely this is the end for Pat Devlin now no way he can come back from this. Even went at fans with nothing to do with anything so sad to see things like this 😔 pic.twitter.com/SVxO3ZYBqX
— Owen (@Owene2220) May 2, 2022
Speaking of struggling Bray; last week we didn't mention the video of Pat Devlin arguing with Bray Wanderers fans in Wexford. It was a poor omission but luckily for us, there's been developments...
On the field, Bray are without a win since the 18th of March with Friday's 4-1 defeat at home to Waterford not even close to their worst result this season (6-0 loss to Cork City). Frustration has been growing off the field too, with Bray turning off replies on their social posts for a while now.
The Cabinteely takeover has been the source of much of the frustration among the supporters, although a struggling team is certainly not helping matters.
In a statement on Thursday, Bray backed their manager and hinted that ticket sales may now be routed through a membership scheme. A very odd situation for any club, never mind one that hasn't sold out a league game in their history. Their next home game is against Athlone at the end of the month and tickets aren't on sale on their website. We'll be keeping an eye on that.
As you can see, it was a busy week in the Greatest League in the World. This coming weekend is quiet by comparison but the headline game between the top two should be played before a capacity crowd in Tallaght and an RTE TV audience too.
A defeat for Sligo Rovers at home to St Pats could see the pressure on Liam Buckley amp up. In the Women's league, Shels travel to Dalymount Park safe in the knowledge it's unlikely to be their home ground in the future. An 11-goal win for Galway United over Wexford would see them leapfrog Cork City at the head of the First Division and ensure them top billing in this column next week.