The 2010 League of Ireland is coming to an end soon, and BPF’s new Irish football columnist Robert Deighan updates you on what’s been happening in Ireland’s top flight.
Beware! The end of October will be a time of terrifying nightmares and horror shows. No, I’m not referring to Halloween, but rather the climax to the 2010 League of Ireland season.
As we enter the final month of the domestic season, the nation‘s football fans are preparing themselves for what will hopefully prove to be an exciting and dramatic finish. Every side have played 31 games to date, with just five remaining. There have been plenty of twists and turns along the way, but with just five games left the title challengers and relegation battlers are entering the home stretch.
In recent weeks the race to be crowned League of Ireland champions has boiled down to the nation’s two biggest football clubs, Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians. The Dublin rivals contested last year’s title race, with Bohemians coming out on top to retain the title. An inexperienced Rovers side have seemingly learned well from the battles of the last campaign, and now sit six points ahead of their bitter rivals making them the clear favourites to win the league. Lifting the trophy would give Rovers their 16th league title, fittingly ending what would be a 16 year title drought.
However, Rovers were recently on the end of a shock 5-1 thrashing against mid-table side Dundalk, a result which brought Bohemians right back into the mix. Rovers recovered well by beating Galway United 3-0 in their only league match since, but will face tough tests when they come up against UCD and Sporting Fingal in their next two games.
Bohemians are unbeaten in their last seven league games, and will be hoping to stay within touching distance of Rovers until they come up against each other in Dalymount Park in little over two weeks time, a match which will be broadcast live on RTE. Any chance of Bohemians wrestling the title away from their rivals rests on them winning this match.
As with the title race, the likelihood that the relegation battle could be decided by a single match is strong. Bray Wanderers, most people’s favourites to go down this year, host fellow strugglers Drogheda United on Sunday, October 10th. Bray have defied pre-season predictions by sitting five points ahead of bottom placed Drogheda with just five games to go,. Many had tipped the Wicklow men to go down without a fight. But fought they have, and if they avoid defeat against Drogheda it will be hard to see them going down.
The FAI Cup also sees Rovers and Bohemians, along with St Patrick’s Athletic and Sligo Rovers, competing to win the cup. The semi-finals see both Rovers and Bohemians handed home ties, so the possibility of a mouth-watering Dublin derby in Aviva Stadium is very real.
Whatever the outcome at the top end of the table, it will be a significant moment for Irish football. Rovers ending their 16 year title drought with their 16th league title, or Bohemians clinching their third league title in a row and possibly securing their short term financial future with the prize money.
This season has provided some thrilling moments, and many more are guaranteed in the final weeks, which you will be able to read about in the League of Ireland weekly round-up.
Friday, October 1st
Bohemians v Bray Wanderers
Dundalk v Galway United
Sporting Fingal v St Patrick’s Athletic
U.C.D. v Shamrock Rovers
Saturday, October 2nd
Sligo Rovers v Drogheda United