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LOI : Sligo Aim To Close In On Table Topping Saints

Roddy Collins and The Athlone team celebrate in the dressing room after the game 27/9/2013

There’s a full card of League Of Ireland action this evening with league leaders St Patrick’s Athletic and struggling UCD the only sides not in action.

This past Friday proved to be a crucial night in the League Of Ireland. Pats are now five points clear of nearest challengers Sligo Rovers , who leapfrog Dundalk into second place after the lilywhites lost to Limerick and witnessed their title ambitions go up in smoke. The Saints welcome Sligo to Inchicore next week in what looks like the title decider.

At the other end of the table Bohemians all but secured their top flight status for another year with a comprehensive 2-0 win over Derry City.

Athlone Town were crowned First Division champions last Friday after beating Waterford United 1-0. Roddy Collins’ side now return to the top flight after nearly two decades in the wilderness. Dundalk –v- Derry City    7:45       

Third versus fourth here as title chasing Dundalk take on Derry City at Oriel Park.

Dundalk will be incredibly disappointed with their form recently. Two defeats in a row, most recently the 2-1 home defeat against Limerick has left the Louth side six points off the top with four games to go. Stephen Kenny and his players know that they cannot afford to drop any more points if they are to keep alive the small chance they have of winning the league. This game is a must win.

Derry’s 2-0 defeat against Bohemians has ended their European chances this season, and effectively brought their season to a premature end. The Candystripes will now play out the season and prepare for what they will hope is a much better challenge for trophies next year.

Prediction: Home win

Limerick –v- Bohemians    7:45

Seventh placed Limerick take on ninth placed Bohemians at Thomond Park.

A brace from Rory Gaffney gave Limerick an impressive 2-1 away win over Dundalk last week. That win cements Limerick’s place in Ireland’s top division next season. The Munster side must now prepare for their second season in the premier division, which will undoubtedly be much tougher than their first.

A brace from Ryan McEvoy gave Bohemians all three points over Derry City and all but assured their survival for another season. Currently in ninth position, eight points clear of bottom side Shelbourne, the Dublin side will be determined to get the three points that will guarantee their place in the league next season.

Prediction: Away win

Sligo Rovers –v- Cork City    7:45

Title chasing Sligo Rovers take on sixth placed Cork City at the Showgrounds looking to close the gap on Pats to just two points.

Goals from Danny Ventre and Iarfhlaith Davoren gave Sligo Rovers a 2-0 victory over Shelbourne and lifted them to second place, five points behind league leaders St Patrick’s Athletic. Manager Ian Baraclough knows that they cannot afford to drop any points in their remaining four fixtures if they are to stand any chance of retaining the league.

A brace from Ian Turner gave Cork City a 2-0 victory over UCD last week. That win leaves them in sixth position with nothing to play for with four games left. Caretaker manager Stuart Ashton will hope to use these games to put him in pole position to take over the reins full time, heading into next season.

Prediction: Home win

Shamrock Rovers –v- Bray Wanderers    8:00

Fifth placed Shamrock Rovers take on relegation battling Bray Wanderers at Tallaght Stadium.

A goal from Gary McCabe and a brace from Thomas Stewart gave Shamrock Rovers a 3-1 home win over Drogheda United last time out. The Dublin side have established their final position in the league standings and their players are now using these games to fight for places in the FAI Cup where they hope to gain a place in the final.

The 3-1 home defeat against St Patrick’s Athletic will have been disappointing for Bray but not unsurprising. With only a point separating them and bottom side Shelbourne, the Wicklow side will be determined to stay above them , even if it means they will face a relegation play-off.

Prediction: Draw

Shelbourne –v- Drogheda United    8:00

Bottom side Shelbourne take on eight placed Drogheda United at Tolka Park.

The 2-0 defeat last week against Sligo Rovers has left Shelbourne rooted at the bottom of the table. The Dublin side are now six points from safety and it would seem that the most they can hope for now is a relegation play-off. Johnny McDonnell and his side need a big performance here and most importantly a win, if they produce neither then it’s only a matter of time until relegation is confirmed.

Like their opponents Drogheda United will also be disappointed with their showing last week. The Louth side were soundly beaten 3-1 by Shamrock Rovers. The league is now finished for them and they can now set their sights on the semi-final of the FAI Cup , where they will face fierce rivals Dundalk in a Louth derby.

Prediction: Draw

Image courtesy of Joe.ie

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