The end is near friends, the end is near.
Last weekend Cork City clinched the First Division title, and that's the first thing settled this year. We now know the FAI Cup for men is going to Shelbourne or Derry City. We know the league title could be headed to Derry too, but Shamrock Rovers remain favourites. Any one of four clubs could become Campions of the WNL, with Athlone Town and Shelbourne being in the hunt for a double, but could win nothing.
The first "regular season" (or at least as regular as any football season can be here) to finish is the First Division with four games tonight setting up the play offs. Here's what you need to know about the week that was, and the weekend to come.
The title race is legit
🗣️ l "We know that there are only a few games left in the season. We will focus like we always do, prepare like we always do, and if we perform as we do more often than no the result will look after itself''
Stephen Bradley previews tomorrow's clash with St. Pat's in Tallaght 👇 pic.twitter.com/oSRa4yBCGU
— Shamrock Rovers FC ☘️ (@ShamrockRovers) October 20, 2022
Sure, we've said this a few times this year and within days, Shamrock Rovers have opened up a big gap. That could be the case this week too, but if Derry City win their final four games their worst case is losing the league on goal difference.
Rovers' 1-1 draw last Sunday in Drogheda leaves them with a six point lead but Derry have a game in hand and still have to travel to Tallaght. Tonight, Rovers host Pats who are chasing their own European goals while Derry host Shelbourne. That game is a preview of the FAI Cup final but Derry will concentrate on league matters for the moment. On Monday, Derry travel to Sligo.
An unlikely loss for the Hoops and two wins for the Candystripes will see the sides level on points with two games to go. Oh and they play each other next weekend. The Rovers v Pats game is on RTE TV and it looks like there's a sell out crowd.
Obviously Pats will hope to dent their rivals title ambitions, but it's over 6 years since they won a game in Tallaght. Rovers have some breathing room. Derry do not.
The Cup final is set
Shels lead in Waterford.
The crispest of strikes by Gavin Molloy as the Premier Division outfit go ahead.
Watch live now on @rte2: https://t.co/2W5kFtUgZE
Read: https://t.co/H3yaZzIb6A #rtesoccer pic.twitter.com/UszHzKfIok
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) October 16, 2022
Derry overcame Treaty United in the semi-final of the cup last week and, as expected, the result was never in doubt.
Treaty, in their second ever season it must be remembered, looked set for a long day after going down 2-0 early on but battled back bravely and hung on in there.
Shelbourne beat Waterford 1-0 away and, not expected really, the result was never in doubt. Gavin Molloy's excellent early goal may have been the only thing to separate the teams on the scoresheet but in truth, Waterford never really tested Shels all game.
Remarkably, Shelbourne haven't won a league game in three months but you won't find a single fan who doesn't believe Damien Duff is a brilliant manager. He claims leading the club out on Cup final day will be the pinnacle of his career.
We can only imagine how he'll react if they win it.
Congrats to Cork City, can anyone join them in promotion?
Tonight will see Cork City lift the trophy when they host Bray Wanderers in Turners Cross.
Bray were expected by many to challenge for promotion but their season has been a complete disaster. They lost 5-1 at home to bottom side Cobh Ramblers last week. Cobh are finished for the season but 3 other games remain. Only play-off positions are at stake and if Waterford beat an inform Athlone side, they clinch 2nd and a first play-off round tie with Treaty United. Galway United play Longford Town tonight and if they can't overhaul Waterford, they'll play Longford twice more in the play offs next week too.
A first division side needs to win three rounds of play offs to be promoted.
Buckle up for the WNL finale
As you were last week in the WNL with all four contenders winning. That can't happen this week. Leaders Wexford Youths (55 points) travel to Peamount United (52 points) for the live TG4 game. If the Peas lose, they're out.
Athlone Town (52 points) also need to win out and they host Galway United. They've had an amazing season and even being in contention this late is surely way above pre-season expectations for all involved. Shelbourne (54 points) have been leaders for most of the season and they'll win the league if they win their last two games. The first of those is at home to Sligo Rovers.
Two games to go, and four sides could win the league with the leaders having the hardest run in? It's set up perfectly.
Planning for 2023 and beyond has started in earnest
✍️Bohemian Football Club is delighted to confirm that Declan Devine’s first signing as manager will see Keith Buckley return to the club as captain on a three-year contract: https://t.co/6wrFssGm1j
❤️🖤 Welcome home, @bloodbuckley66. pic.twitter.com/5pxaaKjx8l
— Bohemian Football Club (@bfcdublin) October 20, 2022
Bohemians appointed Declan Devine last Friday just before they lost 3-1 away to Pats. They were very poor throughout but Devine knows the league and will surely look to clear out the dead wood there.
This week, his 2023 captain was announced with Keith Buckley returning from Australia next week. It's LOI rumour season but with clubs still involved in title, European and relegation-avoiding races, we'll have to wait 2 weeks for most of them.
It's a huge weekend in the Premier Division and the WNL and next week could have two title deciders...