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The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: Moral Victories And WNL Intrigue

The Greatest LOI Wrap Up In The World: Moral Victories And WNL Intrigue
John Dodge
By John Dodge
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Week 25 in the League of Ireland was a quick one. We've managed to go five days without losing a player to League One in England and everyone who started the week in Europe, is still in Europe.

We've a legitimate relegation fight in the Premier Division and the story of the year in the women's league made a bit of a breakthrough. So a short week, but a busy week. Here's what you need to know.

A moral victory for Shamrock Rovers

We must praise Shamrock Rovers for a terrific performance at home to Ludogerets on Tuesday.

They were "on it" from thee outset and deserved their lead when it came through Aaron Greene. When The Bulgarians went a man down, the atmosphere intensified in Tallaght and an 88th minute goal by Aidomo Emakhu had fans believing the miracle comeback was possible.


Three minutes later Ludogerets scored and the tie was over. Rovers will welcome Shkupi of North Macedonia in Tallaght next Thursday after they lost 0-1 to Dinamo Zagreb in their own Champions League qualifier. A win in that tie guarantees Rovers group stage football. If they can match Tuesday's performance, they'll really fancy their chances.

Relegation is going to be tight

Losses for Harps (to Dundalk) and UCD (to Shels) last weekend mean that with exactly a third of the season left, only goal difference separates the two bottom sides.

Since Harps beat Shels in April, they've earned two points from 11 games. In the same timeframe, UCD have earned eight with three of them coming from a win away to Harps in May. The sides meet in three weeks and you get the feeling that Harps will need to, at the very least, avoid defeat in Belfield to have any hope of staying up.


One of these sides will be relegated automatically and the other won't fancy their chances against Galway or Cork in the playoffs. Their combined points total of 24 is fewer than the team who sits above them in the table - Drogheda United with 26.

Huge night of Conference League action on Thursday


Sligo Rovers host Motherwell leading 1-0 from last week's endeavours in Scotland and John Russell's charges know that €300,000 and a place in Rovers' folklore awaits. A sell out Showgrounds should provide the backing they'll need.

While Scottish press called Sligo "minnows" last week, it was the opposition management that seem to have irked the St Patrick's Athletic group. Manager Tim Clancy and goalscorer Chris Forrester both spoke about a lack of respect after Thursday's 1-1 draw in Inchicore.


The Saints will need to be even better on Thursday in the town of Murska Sobota in north-eastern Slovenia. The Inchicore club report good away ticket sales for a venue that is over three hours from their nearest commercial airport. Saints fans are travelling to the game through myriad routes and airlines hoping to see something special in Europe. On offer is a trip to Bulgaria or North Macedonia the week after.

Sligo could follow their two British trips with a game in Prague. Oh how Pats fans look on those draws in envy...

As you were in the First Division

You wouldn't have to be a superfan of this column to know that we've used that heading before but the reality is that from early on, it's been the Cork City and Galway United show. Most weeks they both win, therefore it's as you were. This week City won away to the improving Wexford while United eventually overcame Athlone Town.  In two weeks, those opponents split. Don't be surprised if we say "as you were" again.


Athlone Town nearly stun Shelbourne


Earlier in the Women's National League season, we rejoiced at the form of Athlone Town and to their credit, they've continued to grow. On Saturday, they came within seconds of beating the champions and league leaders, Shelbourne, and earning what would have been a statement win.

The draw is still a breakthrough (of sorts) and shows how far they've come this season. Wexford beat Bohs to leap over Athlone and there's a real chance two non-Dublin sides will finish in the top three for the first time. With TG4 on board for more live coverage, the league is expanding all over the country.

The FAI Cup is back!

The FAI Cup first round takes place over the weekend with games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There are four all non-LOI clashes with only one all Premier Division tie.

The aforementioned hapless Finn Harps team will be hoping to shock Bohemians and their new signings. You'd wonder if their new loanee from Union Berlin, Laurenz Dehl, saw Ballybofey as Bohs tried to sell the club to him and his people.

Holders St Pats get home from Slovenia on Friday evening and will hope there's no European hangover as they host Waterford on Sunday. There's always unexpected stories from the FAI Cup and we'll bring you the best of them next week.

See Also: The Best Current Footballer From Each Of The 32 Counties

best player from every county in ireland


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