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Dundalk & Cork City: League Of Ireland Run In

As the League of Ireland Premier Division title race hots up, Rob Lyons discusses the intricacies of the remaining fixtures that Cork City and Dundalk must contend with going into the home straight, including a potential league title showdown between the two sides at Oriel Park on the last day of the season.

As the situation stands Dundalk are on 63 points with 28 games played. Cork City have 60 points with the same amount of games played, however Dundalk’s goal difference is far superior at +42, whilst Cork City’s is +21.

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Gameweek 29 

UCD vs. Dundalk

Cork City vs. Sligo Rovers

Tonight sees the meeting of UCD and Dundalk. On paper this should be an easy win for Dundalk as they face a UCD side just two points from the foot of the table. Going on the two previous meetings between these sides one has to come to the conclusion that Dundalk will be victorious. They beat UCD 4-1 away from home and at Oriel Park they won 5-2.

Cork City are at home to Sligo Rovers following a hard-fought win against Limerick on Sunday and anything less than Cork City’s best is likely to see Dundalk race six points clear. Sligo have Gavin Dykes at the healm on a temporary basis in the lead up to this game and a new management position can often spur on players to perform for whoever is to take over on a permanent basis. This will make it difficult for Cork City but the large home following as well as City’s ability to grind out results should help the Leesiders to a tight win over the Bit O’ Red.

Prediction at this point

UCD 1-3 Dundalk

Cork City 2-1 Sligo Rovers

Points – Dundalk 66; Cork City 63

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Game week 30

Cork City vs. Drogheda United

Athlone Town vs. Dundalk

This will be Cork City’s second last home game and will provide the Rebel Army with a stern test as they face former manager Damien Richardson. Two wins previously in the league against the Drogs would indicate that City should win but under Richardson Drogheda have improved and are now in a position to play for a top half finish. Every game will be tough for City at this point as teams aim to stop their title challenge but the Rebel Army’s home form indicates they should have too much for the Louth side.

Dundalk must travel to Athlone in a game that will be targeted as a guaranteed three points. Athlone will be fighting for Premier Division survival and three points will be just as imperative to them as it will be to the Lilywhites. Despite the fight that will be in Athlone it won’t match Dundalk’s talent in the final third.

Prediction at this point

Cork City 2-0 Drogheda United

Athlone Town 0-3 Dundalk

Points – Dundalk 69; Cork City 66

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Game week 31

Dundalk vs. Shamrock Rovers

UCD vs. Cork City

Dundalk face their toughest test of the run in, excluding the Cork City game on the final day during game week 31. Rovers have only lost one league game since the middle of August and that one loss was against Cork City. Pat Fenlon has given the Hoops a more structured defence since he has come in and the results in the league are testament to this.

This is a game where one can see Dundalk struggling to break through, despite their EA Sports Cup final win over Rovers. The Hoops will undoubtedly draw confidence from their FAI Cup quarter-final replay win over the Lilywhites however. This writer can see these two sides cancelling each other out.

Cork City’s traditional bogey team will show an exuberant energy as they hope to get themselves further away from the bottom of the table. UCD’s second chance at having an influence on where the league title will go will end in disappointment however and City will take advantage of Dundalk’s failings against Shamrock Rovers.

Prediction at this point

Dundalk 1-1 Shamrock Rovers

UCD 1-3 Cork City

Points – Dundalk 70; Cork City 69

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Game week 32 

Cork City vs. Bohemians

Bray Wanderers vs. Dundalk

This will be the week where Cork City are likely to end their title ambitions, just before they face Dundalk. Bohemians haven’t lost to Cork City all season including two league games and an FAI Cup tie which went to a replay in Dalymount where Bohs won 1-0. This will be the teams’ fifth meeting and unfortunately for City one can see Bohs claiming a point from the Leesiders in Turners Cross to leave Dundalk with the task of going to Bray to all but seal the title.

Bray will put up a brave defence against Dundalk but ultimately it will be nothing more than a slight hindrance as one can expect Dundalk to overcome the Wicklow side easily once the goals start flowing, ending City’s title ambitions.

Prediction at this point

Cork City 2-2 Bohemians

Bray Wanderers 0-4 Dundalk

Points – Dundalk 73; Cork City 70

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Game week 33

Dundalk vs Cork City

The final game of the season. A game that could have been one of the biggest games of the year but will ultimately be Dundalk’s homecoming as league champions with the goal difference between the sides too much for City to make up heading into the last game. It will have been a closely fought season between these two sides as well as St Pats who will have run both of these teams close all season.

This writer expects City to win the game and leave the sides level on points due to Dundalk already having done their job. It will be a close game but City will match Dundalk’s points tally with a win.

The Lilywhites will extend their League of Ireland honours by winning the league for the first time in 19 years. It will be a reminder to some City fans of coming close to winning the title against Dundalk on the final day of the 1991 season in Turners Cross, however the Lilywhites won 1-0 to secure their eight League of Ireland title.

For Dundalk it will be another momentous season following on from their surprise second-placed finish in 2013. It will still be considered a successful season for Cork City as well as they will look forward to some more famous European nights on Leeside in 2015.

Dundalk 0-1 Cork City

Points – Dundalk 73; Cork City 73

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Although this is a prediction of what may come, a few more twists and turns are certainly to happen in the coming weeks as the League of Ireland reaches its conclusion.

Here at Pundit Arena we always love to hear from you, the fans. Do you think we’ll be proved wrong? Will it go down to the last day or will Dundalk or Cork City have it in the bag by then? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook or simply comment below.

Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena.

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