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The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: Ruthless Rovers And Athlone Town Women Rising

The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: Ruthless Rovers And Athlone Town Women Rising
By John Dodge
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Week 15 saw the men’s and women’s champions tighten their grip on the trophies, more news on stadiums and one of the three divisions is now without a winless team. Let’s get you up to date.

Rovers beat Derry and get little credit

Friday night saw the top two clash in a highly anticipated clash in Tallaght Stadium with Shamrock Rovers prevailing thanks to another big Danny Mandroiu goal. The game didn’t really live up to the billing but Derry City did enough to impress a raft of journalists and pundits with most talk after the game of how hard Derry pushed Rovers.  Meanwhile Rovers soaked up the pressure without too much discomfort and did what they’ve done for two years now: punish mistakes by the opposition. Andy Lyons got a shot off but Brian Maher’s save left Mandroiu with a tap in to see Rovers go four points clear.  That’s 8 wins in 9 for Rovers and they’re unbeaten in 12. Three of their next four games are against 3 of the bottom 4 sides.


So about Derry…

As we mentioned above, Derry City got plenty of praise for how they played in Tallaght and there’s no doubt they gave Rovers a tough time but was some of the praise misplaced? The challengers have won only twice in their last 7 games and their only home win since mid-March was against UCD. They did thump UCD 7-1 and followed that up with a 4-0 win in Inchicore against St Pats but they’re the only 2 wins in recent times. Now, Ruaidhri Higgins was quick to dampen expectations as they rose in pre-season and point out that Rovers took a few years to build up their title winning squad while he was only in the job a matter of months. Their summer window will be interesting to watch


The Dalymount project is gone

Thursday seems to be the day we get news on stadiums this year and last week was no different. Paul Lennon in the Star/ Mirror started the day with news that previously announced plans for Dalymount were to be revised. Dalymount’s owners (Dublin City Council)  put out a statement stating the reports were inaccurate. Bohs put out their own statement shortly after (labelling DCC's removal of the shed roof as “the physical infrastructure of the stadium changed for the first time in decades” being a particular highlight) but the underlying news was clear: Paul Lennon was right and the expansive remodel that Bohs and Shels were to share won’t be proceeding.

The statements both mentioned that when upcoming engineer reports are examined, they’ll be examined and a course of action will be decided but it’s no coincidence that increasing costs were mentioned. The DCC statement mentions that negotiations are underway to sell Tolka Park back to Shelbourne “on a cost recovery basis”. All along, the sale of Tolka Park (rezoned, not at cost recovery) was to help pay for the Dalymount development. That funding is gone.


So we’re left with Bohs needing DCC to develop Dalymount and we could be left waiting a while for that. The project was initially announced in 2015 and 7 years later, the only material change is a roof being removed. DCC are said to be still committed to developing Dalymount but what shape that development takes is up for discussion. Some Bohs fans welcomed the report last week that a more basic stadium that would hold 8,500 for their sole use. It could work out in their favour, but it’s been a glacial pace to get here and we still have Tolka Park and Richmond Park in the DCC mix.


Hurray for UCD


A huge win for UCD away to Finn Harps on Friday night saw them move within 2 points of the Donegal side. They’re still set to lose their brightest stars in the summer but that win keeps them in touching distance at the bottom. Joey O’Brien’s Shelbourne won back-to-back games and they’re now clear of the bottom sides and looking upwards again. Their win over Drogheda United was the fourth in a row for the Co Louth side. They host Harps on Friday night and a fifth defeat will see them in the bottom two for the first time since February.  In games between the bottom 3, Harps are the only side yet to win. Maybe UCD aren’t relegated yet.

Let’s hear it for Athlone Town Women

They started the season with one win in three, but the Midlanders have won 6 of the last 7 to leave them only behind the mighty Peamount United on goal difference in fourth. Peamount hosted Athlone at the weekend but a goal from the league’s top scorer Emily Corbet was enough for Tommy Hewitt’s side to leave with all three points. Corbet could become the poster child for the WNL. From the vaunted football hotbed of Clonaslee, Co Laois, she rose through the ranks with Athlone and is now an underage international and tops the scoring charts for the senior league. Before the WNL expansion, she might not have found an outlet for her undoubted talents. Further evidence of Athlone’s fine form was captain Laurie Ryan being voted the WNL Player of the Month. They’re unlikely to trouble leader Shels at the top of the table yet, but they’re a team on the rise and that’s great to see.

The Galway United march continues

Galway joined Cork City on 35 points at the weekend with a 4-0 win away to Wexford and we’re only a couple of weeks from the big two meeting again. Galway won the opener in Cork, and there’s no doubt City will be looking for payback in Eamon Deacy Park at the end of the month. The games between the sides may decide automatic promotion. Unlike their women’s team, Athlone Town’s men are still without a win. They don’t have a manager yet either.


Some random facts to show you how the mid-tier premier division sides are all average

Dundalk in third are yet to win away. St Pats in fourth have only scored 7 goals in 7 games at home. Sligo Rovers in 5th have as many wins as defeats (5). Bohs in 6th also have as many wins as defeats (4). Bohs haven’t won 2 games in a row yet either. Shelbourne in 7th have a goal difference of minus 7. Two of these clubs will likely qualify for Europe. All of them have areas where they can (vastly) improve.

Next weekend is another bumper weekend in the Premier Division with another set of Friday-Monday double headers (or Thursday-Monday in the case of UCD and Rovers thanks to UCD moving the game as it clashed with a fundraiser…).  Lots of interesting ties without any real stand outs. Pats host Shels and Bohs over the weekend so their fans have the highest happy variance.

SEE ALSO: The Greatest LOI Recap In The World: Rovers Push, Derry Woes, And Bray Turmoil



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