First Division run-in


Kevin Galvin

So it’s that time of year again; the nights are getting colder, the days darker, and the fingernails shorter! There’s only three weeks left in this year’s edition of the League of Ireland First Division and the race is still as wide open as… well I’ll let you finish that sentence!

Cork fans celebrating victory over Shels earlier this season (from CorkCityFC.net)

At time of writing, Cork City sit on top the table, in that all too familiar yet precarious position of having more points but more games played. The Leesiders have only lost one game all season, and are top by a point (and also hold a much greater goal difference). Early draws against the likes of Mervue and Athlone have proved to be a burden for Tommy Dunne’s side but six wins in their last seven league games has seen City catapult to the top of the Premier while clubs around them have been slipping up. A huge 3-1 win over rivals Monaghan could make all the difference between promotion or not for the Southerners for whom Graham Cummins has again been in prolific form, 22 league goals and counting this season.

Next up are Shelborune, a point behind the Rebel Army but with a game in hand, and who were leading the division for the last five or six months, by double figures at one stage! The Dublin outfit have a poor record against the teams around them, and it’s not improving, having lost all of their most recent games against Cork City, Limerick and Monaghan. Given Shels’ recent record of bottling promotion right at the very end their fans will no doubt be very anxious about their next few games, particularly the last where they host the Rebel Army, in what could very well turn out to be a title showdown.

Monaghan lie a point behind Alan Matthews’ men, with the same amount of games played. The Ulstermen have been in flying form of late, but following the loss to Cork City will be nervously looking over their shoulder. If they can win their last three games and Shelbourne don’t then they’ll be crowed champions, but Limerick amongst others stand in the way. The Lims still have a chance of promotion, but a win against the Mons on Friday the 21st is absolutely essential.

Outside of that it’s been a very interesting season in the second-tier of the league down south. Mervue’s fantastic second season has been contrasted by Waterford’s absolutely pathetic attempt at promotion at the third attempt. Longford started strongly with Gillespie on the wing but tailed away come mid-season, and there’s been an average of almost three goals a game!

So with four weeks left and it’s still any one of four teams to win, it could be a very interesting Hallowe’en this year!

– Kevin Galvin

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