Dundalk extend their lead. Limerick continue to lose ground. Let's have a look at the State of the League of Ireland in Week 12.
The Big Story
League of Ireland clubs will do all they can to project themselves as being far bigger they really are. Clubs will refuse to correct inflated crowd estimates, use facebook fans as evidence of latent support and generally use any link to their former players to give the pretense that they are very, very important.
Until we get to financial affairs when suddenly every manager (and most fans) become experts on the budget of all clubs and the wages of all players. John Caulfield this week stated that his budget was 80% less than Dundalk, St Pats and Shamrock Rovers. Cork may indeed have the 4th highest budget in the league (the hometown discount works better in Cork than anywhere else), but does anyone really believe him?
The Team Of The Week
It's Dundalk. It could be Dundalk most weeks. They extended their lead at the top of the league to 6 points (with a game in hand) and are now 16 points ahead of the team they beat on Friday; St Pats. They were never really under pressure in Inchicore as their superior fitness and power gave the Saints no room to play the football they like to do. It was 2-0 before Dundalk eased off and allowed St Pats a couple of good chances late on. There's already talk in Louth of them going the season unbeaten.
The GIF of the Week
In a disappointing season so far for Pats, they do at least have some bright spots with their under 19s becoming League champions and centre halves Lee Desmond and Sean Hoare being called up by the Ireland under 21 side. Amongst those under 19s no one has impressed as much as attacker Jamie McGrath and his run on Friday night really deserved more than Aaron Greene's weak finish.
Your Off Field "Chest Thumper" of the Week
Monday night's Soccer Republic included this wonderful ode to the League by writer, activist and Shamrock Rovers fan Eoghan Rice who paraphrases Oscar Wilde;
This League is made to be loved, not understood
The Sportsfile Picture of the Week
Your Greatest League In The World™ Pic of the Week
— Rachel (@rachelblah) May 23, 2015
Taken at Longford v Limerick on Saturday.
Your Greatest League In The World™ Club Tweet of the Week
Spare a thought tonight to the Dublin based Dundalk fan who travelled to Oriel Park for tonight's match! — Dundalk FC (@DundalkFC) May 22, 2015
Stat of the Week
— Dodge (@seidodge) May 27, 2015
They meet on Friday in the FAI Cup. They were drawn together today in the EA Sports Cup semi final (which is scheduled 4 days before their next league fixture). Pats and Rovers are sick of playing each other at this stage.
Respite from the league as the SSE Airtricity League clubs join the FAI Cup for the first time this weekend. Pick of the games is clearly holders St Pats against former cup specialists Shamrock Rovers. A win for Rovers could effectively end Pats season.
Tolka Rovers (home to Waterford) and Killester United (home to Cobh Ramblers) look to have the best chance among the non-LOI sides of a cup upset. All conquering Dundalk start their campaign at home to Shelbourne. Cabinteely's first game in the Cup is away to Drogheda. in all there are 16 games down for decision over the bank holiday weekend.