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The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World : Fixtures Chaos Is Coming

The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World : Fixtures Chaos Is Coming
By John Dodge

When we last spoke, titles races were bubbling up in both divisions. They're both back down to simmering (at most). A quiet week off the field (thankfully!), but let's get you up to speed from Week 21 of the Greatest League In The World.

Shamrock Rovers doing their thing again

Rovers played their two biggest Dublin rivals this weekend and won both comfortably in the end. Both Bohs and Pats started brightly and had their chances but when they stepped up a gear, Rovers deservedly won both games and the six points on offer.

Rory Gaffney scored the winner on Friday against Bohs and was clear Man of the Match on Monday in Inchicore. The big striker provides them with a focal point that no one else in the squad can.  His strike partner Aaron Greene scored a cracker against Pats too (with a little help from the Saints defence).

Rovers extended their lead at the top of the table to 10 points with Dundalk only drawing in Tolka Park. They have games in hand but Rovers will be happy to have the points on the board ahead of their European adventures.

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Pressure starting to mount on Tim Clancy

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When Stephen O'Donnell upped sticks at the end of last season, St Pats moved quick to bring in Tim Clancy from Drogheda United as the new manager. It's a first full-time role for Clancy, but he was highly regarded in LOI circles and most expected him to make the step-up quite easily.

It hasn't been easy. The high profile signing of Eoin Doyle hasn't been a roaring success (his only goals from open play have been scored against UCD, Harps and Drogheda) but Pats have been unlucky with long-term injuries to Paddy Barrett, Jamie Lennon, Ronan Coughlan and rising star Adam Murphy.

James Abankwah is off to Udinese this week, and he may be joined in moves abroad by Sam Curtis and Darragh Burns. It's a lot of change for any club to deal with and Clancy's Pats have never really got in a rhythm this season.

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Frustration boiled over online on Friday when they threw away a two-goal lead against Harps in the final two minutes plus injury time, and the mood wasn't lifted by defeat to Rovers on Monday night.

Friday sees the transfer window open and Pats will add players, but if they don't win at home to Drogheda on Friday night, there will be plenty of calls for a new manager to be brought in to manage that transfer window.  Owner Garrett Kelleher resisted fans calls to get rid of Stephen O'Donnell when he had a sticky spell at the start of his Pats tenure, and it worked out. We'll see if his attitude to managers and coaches has changed.

Galway fluff their lines

Last week, Cork City unexpectedly dropped points, Galway United went top of the First Division, and their fans got giddy. The double weekend has killed any momentum that was building.

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While Cork beat Cobh Ramblers 1-0 on Friday, Galway drew 0-0 with Treaty United at home. Cork beat that same Treaty side 5-0 away on Monday, while Galway lost 2-0 away to Longford. A five-point swing to the Leesiders in the space of four days!

With City having a bye next week, Galway have the opportunity of winning their next two games and still heading into the big game in Turners Cross in mid-July knowing a win will put them ahead of Cork. They'll need to improve on this weekend's performances though.

Here comes the fixtures mess

This weekend will be the last 'normal' weekend for a while with four games on Friday, and Sligo Rovers hosting Shelbourne at their traditional Saturday evening kick off time. Then things get complicated.

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On Tuesday, July 5th, the first club into European action is Shamrock Rovers. They're followed on Thursday by Sligo Rovers and Derry City. We also have a UCD v Bohemians league game set for next Thursday leaving only two Premier Division games for next Friday. 

There will be postponements for the following two weeks too, but we're yet to hear from the League on them. None of the clubs have particularly onerous travels this year so perhaps we'll see some games moved to Sunday.

9 April 2022; Cameron McJannet of Derry City celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Finn Harps and Derry City at Finn Park in Ballybofey, Donegal. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

But, for example, if Derry progress against Riga, will they look for a week's preparation for the second round as has become custom in recent years?  Is it fair that Finn Harps have no idea when one of their biggest games, home to Derry, will be played when it's scheduled for only two weeks away?

There's still four games postponed from June 10th that have to be re-fixed too. It's clearly a tough juggling act for the league, but we've had years of European clashes, surely they'd learn how to deal with it by now?

The most interesting tie in the Premier Division this week is probably Derry City travelling to Dalymount to face Bohs. Derry broke their winless streak on Friday but didn't impress in their 1-0 win against bottom side UCD and Bohs will be a sterner test.

A win for Damien Duff's Shelbourne away to John Russell's Sligo Rovers would bring them back into European contention.  In the First Division, Galway United against Waterford is the pick of the ties. The Women's National League returns on Saturday. After their recent wobble, Shelbourne have the perfect get-right game away to Treaty.

See Also: Ex-England U21 Captain 'Open' To Making Ireland Switch

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