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Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: Shamrock Rovers Fate All But Sealed & European Race Heats Up

Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: Shamrock Rovers Fate All But Sealed & European Race Heats Up
By John Dodge Updated

This week's is closer to a preview than a review but we've plenty to talk about. We're starting to move away from European games so next week should see us back on schedule. except for Shamrock Rovers of course. They're on a Thursday-Sunday schedule for most of the rest of the season and their squad isn't looking as invincible as it once was.

Could we have a title race? This week might tell us. Anyway, lets get you up to speed for week 28.

Europa Conference League for Rovers, what about next year?

Rovers were well beaten in Hungary last night and won't qualify for the Europa League. As literally every single report on the game will tell you though, they will play in the Europa Conference League groups.

It's a lot of money for Rovers and they've achieved it by beating teams from Malta and North Macedonia. This isn't a knock on Rovers, it just shows the value of seeding in the Champions League. If Rovers win the league this year, they'll be favoured to reach the group stages again thanks to their seeding. Dundalk would be seeded similarly.

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Which leads us to Sunday's big game in Tallaght Stadium. Rovers weren't happy with having to play Derry City last weekend so soon after their game in Macedonia. They've even less time to prepare for the visit of Dundalk this weekend.

If Dundalk were to win, they'd only be a point behind Rovers (albeit with a game more played). A win for Derry over Drogheda would ensure they were still in the race too.

Last night in Hungary Rovers were down to the bare bones and unable to fill their bench. They may get some players back for this weekend but, from a position of dominance quite recently, cracks have appeared in their squad.

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A win for Rovers on Sunday, and they're still favourites for the game, would seem them seven points clear with a game in hand and only ten to play.

 

Big win for Shelbourne in the UEFA Women's Champions League

World Cup winner Heather O'Reilly was the centre of attention all week as Shelbourne prepared for the Champion's League mini qualifying tournament in Slovenia and she didn't disappoint in the first game last night.

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Shels beat Slovenian champs Pomurje and will play Valur of Iceland in the second game on Sunday. The winners of that will go on to the second qualifying round along with ten other winners and the champions of Czechia, Denmark and Sweden.

It won't be easy for Shelbourne but if keeper Amanda Budden can continue her excellent form, O'Reilly may get her Champions League wish yet.

 

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The race for Europe...

We're not totally done with Europe yet but with Sligo Rovers and St Pats both being knocked out last Thursday, they had to pick themselves up quickly for a Sunday clash last weekend.

The Saints won 1-0 but had to dig in deep as Rovers pressed forward after Mark Doyle's sending off for the Inchicore side. It gives Pats a  four-point cushion on Sligo with Bohemians and Shelbourne even further back. The two northside Dublin clubs meet tonight and anything other than a win probably means both sides will be out of contention for that fourth spot.

Pats play UCD and despite UCD's lowly position, Pats know they've been lucky in all games between the sides so far this year. Sligo Rovers travel to Finn Harps hoping to stay in touch.

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What's up First Division?

After writing about how we expect Cork City and Galway United to effectively win out, they both lost last week presumably to make us look like fools!

While Galway had a tricky tie away to Waterford, City's loss at home to Treaty was truly shocking. They followed that up with a scoreless draw with Waterford on Monday evening.

There probably isn't enough time for Waterford to get back into the frame (nine points behind, nine games to go) but they may play a big part in the play-offs. Galway host the hapless Bray Wanderers tonight while Cork City make the short trip to Cobh Ramblers.

 

The LOI is nothing without volunteers

The LOI has made huge strides in recent years with many clubs employing full and part time employees in a variety of roles. While this is obviously good news, it's important to highlight that games simply wouldn't happen if it weren't for scores of volunteers at every single club.

From operating turnstiles and selling programmes all the way up to effectively running some clubs, volunteers put in huge time and effort just because they love their club. Even when some of those volunteers move into a paid role, we all know they're only there because they love the club.

This week Bohemians lost their "bar manager" Derek "Mono" Monaghan, Mono's title may have been bar manager but a quick scan of social media this week will show that he performed hundreds of different roles  and there wasn't a Bohs fan unaware of the massive impact he had on the club. People like Mono are the heartbeat of the league and we send our condolences to his family and friends. RIP Mono.

SEE ALSO: Heather O'Reilly's Champions League Debut With Shels Was Glorious


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