The Airtricity Premier Division is approaching the half way point and there are still four sides in the running for the title with Dundalk, Cork, Shamrock Rovers and St. Pats separated by just six points.
Shamrock Rovers earned a 1-0 win in Sligo on Sunday afternoon to put an end to any lingering title aspirations the hosts had. Alan Keane’s first half own goal proved the difference between the sides and despite Gary McCabe’s late red card the Hoops held on to keep their own challenge alive and well. The game was briefly stopped shortly after the deciding goal as Rovers fans threw fireworks on the field at the Showgrounds, the second incident involving the Dublin club in the last fortnight. Sligo will be bitterly disappointed with the result as their title challenge has evaporated with two defeats in a week. Despite their Setanta Cup success it has been a poor showing from Sligo so far this season.
Champions St. Pats won their fifth consecutive home game with a comprehensive 5-2 defeat of Derry City. The league’s leading goalscorer Chris Fagan bagged a hat-trick as the champions stayed in touch with the leaders.
Pats take on Drogheda on Monday night where a win would see them move up to third. Derry’s unpredictable season continues and they have won just three games all season, a record unlikely to improve with games against Sligo and Dundalk this month.
Dundalk picked up their fifth league victory in a row with a 2-0 win at struggling Bohemians. Daryl Horgan and Richie Towell scored the goals for Stephen Kenny’s side who lead by two points. The Lilywhites look the most impressive side in the league at the moment and will aim to extend their lead with a win over UCD on Monday night.
Bohs’ miserable home form continues and they are still without a league win at Dalymount this season. Sadly, the game was marred by violence outside the ground as a minority of Bohs fans attacked pockets of Dundalk supporters. There was unrest involving Bohs fans last week before the Rovers game too and they are doing their club and the league no favours.
Limerick produced one of their best performances of the season to thrash Drogheda 4-1 on the road. Danny Galbraith’s return to the side has been pivotal to their upturn in form and he was on the scoresheet in Louth along with Duggan, Tracey and McManus. Limerick are up to sixth in the table and seem to have finally found the goalscoring touch.
Meanwhile, Drogheda are slipping further and further down the table and have now conceded 13 in their last three matches. They won’t be looking forward to Monday’s trip to Richmond Park which will surely see their 10th defeat in 11 games in all competitions.
Cork City kept up the pressure on Dundalk with a hard fought win over Athlone Town. The introduction of Rob Lehane and a brilliant second half header from Mark O’Sullivan proved the difference between the sides in a poor game at Turner’s Cross.
The win maintains City’s unbeaten home record and makes it four consecutive victories for John Caulfield’s men. The game emphasised the need for striking reinforcements and City fans will hope rumours of a return for Graham Cummins are true. Athlone have been more competitive in recent weeks and will look to restore some pride in the second half of the season.
Finally, UCD and Bray met a Belfield on Friday night many hoping for a repeat of the eight goal thriller in the reverse fixture. Unfortunately it was not to be and the sides played out a dull 0-0 draw which the hosts in particular will be disappointed with.
Next weekend sees a return to FAI Cup action with the tie of the round seeing the holders Sligo travel to Dundalk for a potentially season defining clash.
Airtricity Premier Division results May 30th/June 1st:
Bohemians 0-2 Dundalk
Cork City 1-0 Athlone Town
Drogheda United 1-4 Limerick
St. Patrick’s Athletic 5-2 Derry City
UCD 0-0 Bray Wanderers
Sligo Rovers 0-1 Shamrock Rovers