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The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: Bray Trouble, Shels Blip, & European Draws

The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: Bray Trouble, Shels Blip, & European Draws
John Dodge
By John Dodge
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Week 19 saw the First Division grab some headlines for the wrong reason (they never seem to grab them for the right reasons), Shelbourne women stumble and our European representatives find out their opponents.

We've more football to come this weekend, but first here's the news you need to know.

Bray's dopes

With only three games in the men's leagues this week, and with arguably the 3 worst supported teams at home, stories from the football were always going to be hard to find.

Up stepped some dopes from Bray to provide some content for us all.


Maybe it was because there was so little football on, but the acts of a couple of dopes from Bray (and it's important to remember it is only a couple of dopes) really caught the LOI public's attention. For the first time this year, the league issued a statement through their online channels so you know it was serious. Not serious enough for them to put on their website though where the three last posts are about postponed fixtures and TV selection from May. There hasn't been a post this month so far.

Bray have promised to deal with the dopes after the Garda have, if the Garda do...

Hurray for Athlone

For the first time this season, and the first time since 1st October 2021, Athlone Town have won a league game. T


he Midlanders had 14 defeats and two draws in their 16 league games before Friday night's visit of Cobh Ramblers but they ended the run in style, winning 5-2.  Surprisingly enough, the two Dutch players who signed in pre-season are still there even though Athlone still haven't replaced Martin Russell as manager.

Still, they're the only club in the whole league to win a game in the last fortnight. so they're the form team in the league.

Shelbourne women open the door slightly

After last week's draw with Galway, the runaway leaders Shels surprisingly lost at home to Wexford Youths on Saturday. Before last week, they'd only conceded one goal but a point from two games sees them wobble for the first time.


Shels still lead the pack, led by Wexford, by 5 point so they won't be panicking yet. The WNL is on a summer break until the start of July now. By then Shels will know their European opponents for their Champions League ties in August.

Speaking of European opponents

This week saw the draws made for the first and second qualifying rounds in the Champions League and the Europa Conference League.

In the Champions League, Shamrock Rovers made use of their seeding and drew Hibernians of Malta. In a pot containing the champions of Poland, Georgia and more, this was the best outcome possible for Stephen Bradley's charges. If they win that, they'll play the winner of Ludogerets (Bulgaria) v Sutjeska Nikšić (Montenegro). Ludgorets are regular group stage qualifiers.

If Rovers lose to Hibs, they'll play the losers of Levadia Tallinn (Estonia) and Vikingur (Iceland) in the Conference League.

Sligo Rovers will face Bala Town of Wales in the 1st round in the ECL. If they beat the Welsh side, and they should, they'll play Motherwell of Scotland in the second round. Sligo travelled to Motherwell to play their under 21 side in the 2018-19 Irn Bru Cup. That'd be a pretty unique double.

Derry City will face Riga FC in the first round. Derry knocked out Skonto Riga in 2009 in their only previous visit to Latvia but will need to improve on their domestic form to win through this year. If they do they'll face the winner of Ruzomberek (Slovakia) and Kauno Zalgiris (Lithuania). A tough tie either way.

The final LOI team to learn their fate was St Patrick's Athletic who enter at the second qualifying round stage thanks to their FAI Cup win last year (and Russia's invasion of Ukraine).  The Saints will play either Mura of Slovenia (who beat Spurs in the ECL group stage last year) or Sfîntul Gheorghe of Moldova. The Moldovan angle triggered painful memories for Pats fans of a certain age when Zimbru Chisnau beat the then-champions 10-0 in 1999. A tough draw in footballing terms, and a tough draw for fans too.


Transfer season is nearly here

The transfer window officially opens on July 1st but Bohs have already kicked things off by announcing three signings and a bus inspired kit so far. They added centre half Josh Kerr from Airdrie to returning Dubs Ryan Burke (Mansfield) and John O'Sullivan (Accrington Stanley).

Some clubs played friendlies last weekend with several (secret) trialists popping up. Most clubs, except Shamrock Rovers, have holes to fill so it's going to be an interesting time.

There'll  be some players leaving too. Many of the loanees will return to their English clubs but others will move permanently. James Abankwah, for example, will complete his move from St Pats to Udinese in Italy. Pats will hopefully have inserted some of the clauses that Shamrock Rovers had when they sold Gavin Bazunu to Manchester City. His transfer to Southampton from Man City is set to earn the Hoops close to €2 million (in addition to fee already received). It's huge money in LOI terms.

On the men's side we're back to a full schedule this week with some intriguing ties on the docket. Dundalk hosting Shamrock Rovers is the pick of the bunch with a win for Stephen O'Donnell's side opening the door for a league title race. In the First Division, both the top two are away and there's sure to be a few extra eyeballs on Bray v Galway to see if anything happens off the field. There's a lot of football to come in the next month or so.

SEE ALSO: Eamon Dunphy & Liam Brady Disagree On Ireland's Progress Under Stephen Kenny

stephen kenny


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