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The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: Big Names Going/Gone

The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: Big Names Going/Gone
By John Dodge Updated

The problem with doing a midweek wrap up article is deciding when the week starts and ends. Shamrock Rovers' win in Donegal on Friday seems like an age away now but we had other brilliant LOI content on the site yesterday and we wanted to see how last night's Champions League qualifier went first. We can't wait for Thursday's games though, right? Luckily we don't profess to be breaking any news here, so on we go with week 22.

How comfortable did Rovers look in Europe?

Shamrock Rovers could not have asked for a better start to their European campaign than the easy 3-0 win over Hibernians of Malta in Tallaght Stadium.

It's true their opponents had a poor night, but Rovers were better in every area and deserved their three-goal first leg lead. Even in the heat of Malta next week, you'd expect them to qualify for the second round. If they finish off the tie, Rovers will play the winners of Ludogerets (Bulgaria) and Sutjeksa (Montenegro). Ludogerets won the first leg 2-0 at home.

Clubs which reach the second qualifying round in the Champions League have three chances to make group stage football now. Win and they're onto the third qualifying round of the Champions League, lose and they're onto the Europa League third qualifying round. If they lose in that round, they'll still have a Europa Conference League play off to fall back on.

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It sounds more complicated than it is. Just know that clinching the win next week gives Rovers at least six more games in Europe, and they'll only face other domestic champions in those games

Sligo and Derry warm up with wins

Our two Europa Conference League first round entrants warmed up with wins over Dublin clubs at the weekend.

Derry City showed a return to some form beating Bohs in Dalymount. In an entertaining game, both teams had chances but the Candystripes prevailed 3-2. They have a tricky tie against Riga FC and LOI clubs have a mixed record against Latvian opponents.

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We have a better record against Welsh opponents and Sligo Rovers warmed up for the clash with Bala Town with a controversial win over Shelbourne in the Showgrounds. They scored some brilliant goals but most observers believed Shelbourne were unlucky with some refereeing decisions that may have changed the outcome. Anything other than a Rovers win in Wales would be a disappointment.

Both Derry City v Riga FC and Bala Town v Sligo Rovers have streams available to purchase.

Top five beat the bottom five

We're just noting that last weekend the top five sides played the bottom five sides and all the top five won. The top two sides beat the bottom two; Dundalk at home to UCD, Shamrock Rover away to Finn Harps. Derry beat Bohs away, Pats beat Drogheda United at home and Sligo Rovers beat Shelbourne.

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It doesn't mean much, of course, it's just an unusual quirk of the fixtures list. No more, no less.

Some big names are gone/going

Darragh Burns leaving St Pats for MK Dons might have been the biggest name to leave the league so far while Pats also lost young keeper Josh Keeley to Spurs and centre back James Abankwah finalised his move to Udinese.

They've brought in some replacements from abroad and more are expected.  Since the FAI Cup final, players from the matchday squads of Pats and Bohs have left for Udinese, Sacremento Republic, Plymouth Argyle, MK Dons, North Colorado Hailstorm, Motherwell and Rotherham United. Add in the loanees returning home and that's a lot of talent to leave just two clubs.

The team with the most talent, Shamrock Rovers, are much older than the rest of the league. The average age of their starting XI on Tuesday night was over 30 but they're not immune to losing players to moves abroad.  Stephen Bradley confirmed on Monday that Lincoln City are to sign Danny Mandriou with a deal expected to be confirmed soon.

Derry City have reportedly refused a Bolton Wanderers offer for Eoin Toal. The next month will see talented players leave, and gambles come in. While Rovers look settled, most other clubs may take time to get to know each other again.

As you were in the First Division

Cork City did what they needed away to Bray Wanderers, winning 3-1 on Friday night. Galway United had a tougher game against the in-form Waterford but Killian Brouder's headed winner keeps them within touching distance.

Galway host Cobh Ramblers this weekend while Cork City have a rest week. The top two clash next week in Cork and with a huge crowd expected, fans of both clubs are lobbying for the game to be on national TV. With RTE showing the Woman's European Championships that night, let's see if someone else steps up.

The Women's League pops up for a minute

The Women's National League resumed* last weekend with draws for Peamount United and Wexford Youths allowing Shelbourne to increase their lead at the top of the table with a ten goal thumping of Treaty United.

Athlone Town are in third after beating Cork City. *Lots of national media are focusing on the Women's Euro 2022 tournament in England so it's probably a good thing that the WNL pauses for another two weeks now. They struggle for media space in the best of times.

This week's fixtures on the men's side are a little all over the place. We have the two European games on Thursday night while at the same time UCD host Bohs in a league game. Bohs then travel to play Union Berlin in a friendly on Saturday.

Friday has the four First Division ties but only two in the Premier with Shels hosting Harps and the Louth Derby happening in Drogheda.  Then next Tuesday Rovers are back in Champions League action but as discussed in the opening paragraph, we don't know if that's this week or next week...

See Also: Ranking Every Win By A LOI Club In European Cup & Champions League

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