League Of Ireland Round-Up, Week 18

A routine game for Limerick saw them run out 3-0 winners against an unimpressive Mervue side, a bread and butter game for the Shannonsiders at this stage. The gulf between the top three in the First Division and the other five clubs is pretty stark, both in terms of talent and in terms of actual points.

With Gaffney, Behan, Gamble and O’Leary all playing well at the moment, Limerick have no trouble making opportunities, with three decent strikes taken against the Galway club. The game seemed to have been killed off by half time really, the Mervue side that raced into a 3-0 win over Longford a few weeks ago not being present. Jeffrey Judge got his first goal in this spell for Limerick, and the goal difference goes up and up.

Longford’s failure to take full points off Wexford in Ferrycarrig was surprising, especially after the Slaneysiders had a man sent off early enough in the second half. Longford’s blip, that started when they lost at home to Limerick, continues apace, even if they haven’t actually lost that many points from it. It’s just been a steadily declining level of form, matched by a goals scored/conceded comparison that doesn’t look too healthy for the last few games: nine goals for, eight against in five games.

It is Waterford that are the form team, having won all five games since their last defeat (to Longford) and play “the Town” next week in a game that could see them come within a point of the midlands club. Waterford’s rise, greatly helped by that fantastoic record against Limerick, makes them the team I am more worried about between them and Longford, at the present moment in time anyway.

The results last Friday mean that Limerick rise to the pinnacle of the First Division for the first time all season, by virtue of their far superior GD (which is actually the best in the entire LoI structure). That feat took a lot longer than expected, but you did feel that it was always on the cards. Ten more games remain to play in the First Division (including two games against Longford for Limerick and one against Waterford) so it would be extremely foolish to rest on the laurels. That being side, Limerick should be easing past the challenge of SD Galway at home next Friday, while one or both of Longford and Waterford will be dropping points. The immediate future looks bright enough.

On the First Division, a gap has emerged. Eight points separate Waterford from fourth placed Athlone, with a further six between them and Wexford. That makes the real race in the First Division one between the top three determining automatic and play-off promotion places between them, with Athlone barely clinging on to the hope of getting back into the fight. The rest, lying 13 (Wexford), 15 (Finn Harps), 27 (Mervue) and 28 (Salthill) points behind the leading pack respectively, have a season that has already been written off in terms of genuine competitiveness. The problems of a two tier system.

Up above, I caught Sligo battling to a 2-1 win away to Derry despite a pedestrian performance, which is one of the really important marks of prospective champions. They pass well and make plenty of opportunities, but Rivers were actually quite wasteful and uninspiring at times. Such form is a concern with Europe still to come. Still, all Sligo have to do is continue to grind out results. Derry, for their part, were even worse, and despite a well taken goal in the second half rarely looked like they were capable of taking all three points of the league leaders.

Two shocks to speak off, Drogheda grabbing a two nil win away to St Pats, moving them up to second is the first. Quite the season so far for Drogs, now only six points from the top of a league they were widely expected to be midtablers in (as well as League Cup semi-finalists and part of the last 16 of the FAI Cup). St Pats seem to have been suffering from a Europa League hangover after just scrapping by Icelandic opposition during the week (while Drogheda, thanks to the bye-week structure the Premier Division has been forced to adopt after Monaghan’s departure, hadn’t played a game in 16 days) and need to get their heads back in the game as fast as possible: Sligo travel to Inchicore in two weeks time.

The other  shock was Dundalk, who held on for a draw against Shamrock Rivers at home, having led the game for a long period. Poor Stephen Kenny faces into a Champions League qualifier this week with his job on the line, with the defending champions looking increasingly down and out in terms of chasing the title, ten points behind Sligo with 14 games still to play. Some major reversal of fortunes will be required for Shams, and it seems that Kenny is not the man to bring that into being. For Dundalk, it is a sign that the club, fighting for its financial existence, has some heart in it, even if that makes little effect on the bottom line. Having parted company with the inept Sean McCaffrey, Dundalk can have some hopes of avoiding that last spot, with UCD falling to a disappointing home loss to ten man Bohemians on Sunday.

This entry was posted in Football 11/12, Ireland, League of Ireland, Limerick, Sport and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s