The bottom six in this year’s League of Ireland at the halfway point is still very tight,as the race to preserve Premier Division status and chase a possible European spot heats up for the second half of the season.
Derry are a football club that enter every season with massive expectation from their large support base but the expectation hasn’t come anywhere near reality this year. Derry are a club that should be vying for the leagues European spots at the very least but it hasn’t materialised this year. Roddy Collins’ departure last month shows that things weren’t right at the club.
Peter Hutton has stepped into the breach for the remainder of the season but results aren’t drastically improving, with only two points form their last four league results. They are now in a precarious position going into the second half of what will most certainly go down as a season to forget for the Candystripes.
It is a matter of restoring some pride this season for Derry. There are still in with a chance of silverware this season in the Ford F.A.I Cup but if their form doesn’t pick up soon I can’t see them making it far.
One of the two teams currently on 17 points, with Bray being the other. Bohs, like Derry could go either way at this point. They are three points from moving into the top half but are equally only three points away from second bottom.
With Bohs a far cry from the league winning sides of the past there wouldn’t have been much pressure eon Bohs this year to do anything special but they are in danger of slipping down to the first division if results don’t improve.
Bohs have lost six of their 17 league games and drawn another eight. The amount of draws they are getting is what is stalling any progress this season but they should take confidence from the fact that these draws are capable of turning into wins with a bit more determination, something that their manager Owen Heary had plenty of when he was one of the League of Ireland’s top players.
a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Bray before the mid-season break would have been hard to take and a terrible start against Athlone last Friday saw Bohs fight back to earn a 2-2 draw showing that the Phibsborough outfit have some impressive resolve in their side.
Another side like Bohemians, Bray wouldn’t have gone into the 2014 season expecting to be challenging near the top of the table.
Two points ahead of Drogheda at the moment, but if there is to be any change in current league positions at the bottom one sees these two switching places. Drogheda have enough talent to make a move up the table but Bray are likely to be more concerned with just staying clear of Athlone and U.C.D. until October.
Drogheda have parted ways with Robbie Horgan recently after suffering eleven defeats up to this point in the season. Darius Kierans has come in as the caretaker manager for the remainder of the season and his most immediate challenge is to shore things up at the back. The Drogs have shipped a massive 48 goals in the league this season; more than any other team.
That being said, when it comes to Drogheda’s attack, they have some of the best forward options in the bottom half of the league with players like O’Brien in their ranks giving them some flair and creativity going forward that Kierans must make the best of if Drogheda are to avoid making a bad season worse.
The students have had a torrid season although each year they’re not expected to challenge for any honours. This season has been particularly poor for U.C.D. Coming back after their break they have failed to start on a high note, going down 2-0 to Shamrock Rovers.
One cannot see things improving for the students, with Cillian Morrison, their top scorer, moving to pastures new in Cork. With this lack of firepower and a defence that will struggle to cope with teams like St. Pats, Cork City and Shamrock Rovers, all teams they must face again before this campaign is out, U.C.D may find themselves at the foot of the table just yet with a five point cushion over their nearest rivals Athlone.
The First Division Champions have come into this season seemingly unprepared for the challenges that they have so far faced. In saying this, the last month or so has been an encouraging for Athlone, winning 2-0 at home to U.C.D., a draw against Bohemians last weekend and winning 6-0 against Drogheda just before the break are sure to give Athlone the impetus to head into the latter stages of the season with some newfound confidence.
Following Mick Cooke’s stepping down the results haven’t quite changed as much as would be hoped. Athlone with only two wins so far will do well to avoid the drop this year as on current form it is tough to see past them finishing at the foot of the table.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena.