A week is a long time in a non-existing title race. Not for the first time this year, women's football provided more excitement than their male counterparts, but here we are with two weeks left and European and relegation spots still up for grabs. Oh and the play offs have started. They're always good fun (for people who don't care about the teams involved). Let's wrap up the week in LOI and see what the weekend has in store for us.
LOI Wrap Up: Titles secured, as relegation looms
Rovers win the title. Again.
So that’s that end, the title race we all wanted never materialized and Derry’s two draws over the weekend handed the league title to Shamrock Rovers for the third successive season. Stephen Bradley spoke this week about his team not getting enough respect. He might have a point. They’ve been the best team in the league since beating Derry in April (when most pundits praised Derry for the style in which the lost) but the relative ease at which they’ve clinched the title sees more focus on the faults in their challengers, then in Rovers strengths. It’s natural enough though. Only so many times you can say the biggest club with the biggest budget (and this best players) with the most stable management team (now proven winners) are clearly the best team in the country. We’ll have more on this in our end of year wrap up too but Rovers fans can enjoy Sunday night's trophy presentation regardless of what anyone else thinks.
More Rovers? Yeah, more Rovers…
Another look at that Rory Gaffney goal after just three minutes in Tallaght 🍀💪pic.twitter.com/mYK1POj2UR
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) October 27, 2022
They scored their first goal in the Group stages last night and earned another €166,000 for their 1-1 draw at home to KAA Gent. It’s an old LOI fan trope but that’s more than €50k more than they’ll get for winning the league championship. Rovers played well too. Seeing as we mentioned their budget helping them dominate at home, we should mention that one of the centre backs who struggled to mark Rory Gaffney last night cost Ghent €3.5 million last year. While still near impossible for Irish clubs to get to the Champions League groups, Rovers will expect to get to the ECL groups again next year (at a minimum). They know the level they need to reach to be competitive now. It’ll be interesting to see who they bring in.
Harps v UCD will be nervy
Since the sides last met in August, UCD have lost 5 of their 8 games so it seems a little weird to call them the form team. So with that caveat, UCD are the form team coming into tonight’s massive relegation battle in Donegal. Last weekend saw the Students beat Drogheda on Friday before picking up a point away to Shels on Monday. They now lead Harps by 3 points.
Bohs equaliser on Friday. pic.twitter.com/zFapI5MaXl
— KillianM2 TV Archive (@KillianM2) October 23, 2022
Harps have 2 points from their last 7 games but should have taken 2 more away to Bohs last Friday before a howler from keeper James McKeown allowed David McDaid to equalise in injury time. Tonight is a big night for the club off the field with their new stadium draw taking place too. If they don’t win tonight, they’ll be doing next year’s fundraising in the relative darkness of the first division
— SSE Airtricity League (@SSEAirtricityLg) October 21, 2022
Pats were thumped by Rovers last week and must have felt relieved to see that Dundalk had dropped points at home to Sligo Rovers. The relief probably didn’t last long when they realised they had to travel to Sligo tonight. It would have been easy for Sligo to give up on the season but they seem to still be fighting. A good sign for rookie manager John Russell. The same probably can’t be said for Bohs players but tonight they travel to Dundalk. Maybe they’ll be hoping to impress new boss Declan Devine and try a little.
As expected, Waterford steamrolled Treaty United in the first league of their tie. The Waterford attack is better than some Premier Division clubs when all 3 big names play together and they scored 4 to ensure the second leg will be a kick about. The other tie is more evenly balanced with Galway United coming back twice to earn a 2-2 draw in Longford. Remarkably, Galway ended the season with only one win in their last 10 league games before the play offs kicked off. They’re still favourites to advance past Longford but Waterford will be much tougher opposition in the first division final.
LOI Wrap up
Only two weeks left for the men. It’s the final week for the women, but that’s covered elsewhere this week. The long winter without football is approaching fast, so enjoy it while you can!