Another frantic week at the top of the Premier Division has resulted in the title race boiling down to the very last match day. Friday began with Bohemians sitting pretty at the top of the table and in pole position to win what would be their third title in a row. It looked like Shamrock Rovers had blown their chance of ending their 16 year title drought. But the inconsistency of Bohemians has thrown Rovers right back into the driving seat, with just one game remaining.
Bohemians travelled to Terryland Park to play Galway United as league leaders. After making the long trip all the way from Dublin, the Bohs faithful were loud and proud, aiming a “Can you feel it slip away?” chant at Shamrock Rovers. But after just eleven minutes Bohs slipped behind against a Galway side very much at the races. Derek O’Brien put Galway ahead from the penalty spot, after Bohs defender Ken Oman clumsily fouled Jason Malloy in the box. They held the lead for just 14 minutes when midfielder Paul Keegan headed home an Owen Heary cross to draw Bohs level. They say the worst time to concede a goal is just before half time, and Pat Fenlon might well have agreed when he seen his side concede in the 44th minute when Jason Molloy restored Galway’s lead. Fenlon’s men didn’t go in at the interval behind however, as Mark Quigley won a penalty in the second minute of added time and veteran striker Jason Byrne calmly slotted home. Bohemians pressed hard during the second half for a third, but the only goal of the half fell to Galway when Jason Molloy capitalized on some poor defending and fired Galway to a 3-2 lead in the 89th minute. It was the third time Galway had taken the lead and this time they managed to hold it and claim all three points.
Shamrock Rovers took full advantage of Galway’s dramatic victory over Bohs, by beating Drogheda United 2-0 in Tallaght Stadium. The first half was a tense and often sluggish affair that passed by with neither team finding the back of the net. Six minutes after the break Thomas Stewart headed in from close range to give Rovers the lead. Rovers doubled their lead just after the hour when Gary Twigg controlled a low ball into the box before firing past the Drogheda keeper from eight yards. The result sent Rovers to the top of the league, and condemned Drogheda to relegation.
Rovers find themselves two points clear at the top going into the final game of the season. The destination of the title is not a foregone conclusion however, as Rovers have to play their bogey side Bray Wanderers on the final day. Bohemians host Dundalk knowing they need a win if they are to stand any chance of recapturing their crown.
All three teams fighting for 3rd place picked up three points. Sligo Rovers beat UCD 2-1 away from home to stay in third position. 4th place Sporting Fingal kept the pressure on Sligo by beating Dundalk 2-0 in Oriel Park, while St. Patrick’s Athletic ensured they’d be in with an outside chance of finishing third by picking up a 2-0 home victory against Bray Wanderers.
In what is a cup final of sorts, Sligo will face Pat’s with both teams looking to finish in 3rd place. Pat’s need to beat Sligo and hope that Sporting Fingal don’t beat UCD if they are to finish 3rd. A victory for Sligo and they are guranteed 3rd spot regardless of other results.
Friday, October 29th
Bohemians v Dundalk
Bray Wanderers v Shamrock Rovers
Drogheda United v Galway United
Sligo Rovers v St. Patrick’s Athletic
Sporting Fingal v UCD