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LOI takeaways: Shamrock Rovers close in on title after dramatic night

League of Ireland

The Hoops are closing in on the title.

Shamrock Rovers closed in on their third Premier Division league title on the spin, as Stephen Bradley’s side shook off their recent malaise in style at Tallaght Stadium.

Seeing off St Patrick’s Athletic with a 4-1 win, Rovers need just one more point to claim the title following Derry City’s slip-up at home to Shelbourne.

Meanwhile, the European chase also heated up, as Dundalk failed to win against Sligo Rovers at Casey’s Field.

Here are our League of Ireland takeaways from Friday night’s league action.

Shamrock Rovers close in on the title.

Despite falling behind to St Patrick’s Athletic, Rovers came back with a bang to ensure that they would not leave Tallaght Stadium with the title race wide open.

Roaring back to win the contest 4-1, the Hoops ultimately eased past the Saints who finished the game with 10-men following Anto Breslin’s red card.

Serge Atakayi gave the visitors a 1-0 lead inside the opening five minutes of the game, before Graham Burke and Daniel Cleary gave Rovers a 2-1 lead at the break.

Sean Hoare then made it 3-1, before Tunde Owolabi missed from the spot for Tim Clancy’s side as the game slipped away from them.

Breslin was then sent off for a handball offence, with Burke slamming home the resulting penalty. The result now means that Rovers could claim the league title as early as Monday night, if Derry City fail to defeat Sligo Rovers in their game in hand.

If the Candystripes win that, Rovers will then have the opportunity to win the league at home on Sunday week against Ruaidhri Higgins’ side – if they avoid defeat.

If a defeat comes there, the Hoops will be able to win the league away to UCD, once they avoid a loss at the Belfield Bowl.

Dundalk fail to make the most of European chase opening.

While St Patrick’s Athletic failed to fire at Tallaght Stadium, Dundalk were also unable to make the most of their chance to all but end the race for third-place.

Winning 2-1 heading into the last 15 minutes of their game against Sligo Rovers, the Lilywhites were forced into scoring a late leveller against the Bit O’ Red as they slumped to a 3-2 deficit.

However, Keith Ward was on hand to score a dramatic equaliser for Stephen O’Donnell’s side.

As it stands, it now means that Dundalk can wrap up third-place as early as next week. That is if they win against Bohemians next weekend, and if St Patrick’s Athletic fail to defeat Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.

UCD steal a march on Finn Harps with huge win.

In the relegation battle, UCD claimed what may prove to be the most important win of their season against Drogheda United.

Dara Keane’s stunning winner sealed the deal for Andy Myler’s side, after Drogheda took an early lead through Darragh Nugent’s opener in Dublin 4.

Jack Keaney levelled matters in the first-half after Drogheda took the lead, although a win for them gained significance following Bohemians late equaliser against Finn Harps at Dalymount Park.

Drawing 2-2, Harps have now slipped back to two points behind UCD in the league standings. The Students also have a game more to play than Ollie Horgan’s side – with their game in hand coming against Shelbourne on Monday night.

Should they win that, UCD could ensure their safety from automatic relegation as early as next weekend – when the pair meet at Finn Park.

Cork City round off their campaign in style.

In the First Division, Cork City rounded off their season in style with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Bray Wanderers at Turner’s Cross.

Barry Coffey and Ruairi Keating netted for Colin Healy’s side as they finished the league season with 68 points to their name.

Elsewhere, Waterford saw off Athlone Town with a 3-2 win – while play-off foes Longford Town and Galway United played out a thrilling 3-3 draw.

Ian Ryan’s Wexford also defeated Treaty United at the Market’s Field, with a 2-0 win.

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