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5 Things We've Learned From Week 3 Of The Airtricity League

5 Things We've Learned From Week 3 Of The Airtricity League
By John Dodge Updated

It was a long week in the Irish football with 9 Premier Division games and 4 First Division games played over 7 days with 4 further games postponed.  So what are the most important take-aways from Week 3 of the Airtricity League?

1) Sligo Rovers are now favourites for the League

Sligo fans never believed otherwise but until this weekend Shamrock Rovers were still the bookmakers favourites. Not now. Sligo scored a late winner through English centre half Jeff Henderson on Saturday night at home to Limerick and earlier in the week won 3-1 away to Dundalk.  The outstanding goalscoring form of Anthony Elding (scored in each of the 4 wins so far) has banished any thoughts that Sligo would struggle for goals without Mark Quigley or the injured Danny North this season. Sligo travel to Dalymount Park next week to play Bohemians (in front of RTE cameras) looking to better their start of 4 wins and a draw from last season.

2) Shamrock Rovers need to start scoring goals

2 Dublin derbies for Rovers this week and both ended scoreless. Apart from the 3 goals Pats gifted them last week, that means Rovers have failed to score in 3 of 4 so far. As assistant to Liam Buckley last year, Trevor Croly will be all too aware of how costly lack of goals and an abundance of draws can be. Mark Quigley returned from injury this week and a lot will be expected of him.

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3) League of Ireland clubs have 99 problems and a pitch is one of them

Dalymount (above) got the go ahead for the Bohs/Rovers game last monday. Tallaght Stadium (below) was deemed unplayable for the Drogheda/Trabzonspor friendly on Thursday and the Ireland u21 game tonight. Pats v Shels was called off late on Tuesday evening and Richmond Park was again unplayable on Saturday for the visit of Bohs. Bray Cork also fell foul of the horrendous weather that hit South Dublin and surrounds.  The vast majority of LOI premier division sides try to play attractive football.  For that to happen, pitches need to get a lot better (and pretty quickly too!).

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Tallaght Stadium on Thursday before Drogheda's proposed friendly

4) The First Division is wide open.

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With Mervue Uniited stunning pre-season favourites Waterford United and Finn Harps earning a win over current favourites Longford Town, the First Division really is wide open.  Next weekend sees Mervue hosting Finn Harps in an unlikely top of the table clash while Waterford and Longford face tricky away ties.  Another defeat for Waterford could spell trouble for manager Paul O'Brien.

5)  The League of Ireland is becoming a breeding ground for Irish international players

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Not technically from the LOI but of the 10 Irish-born players (north & south) to play for Giovanni Trapatonni's Republic of Ireland side on Friday, 6 of them played in the League of Ireland.  Others in recent squads include Doyle, Ward and Fahey.  David Forde's reaction to his clean sheet  and the embrace by Seamus Coleman shows how much playing for their country means to them and the rest of the ex-LOI lads. Nothing has come easy to them. There's no doubt that people watching today's League of Ireland players are watching the Irish footballing stars of tomorrow.

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