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Dublin: 22 °C Sunday 24 June, 2018

Five things we learned this weekend in the Airtricity League

With three Airtricity League games scheduled for this evening, Alan Smith looks over the weekend’s action for any clues about what to expect.

St. Patrick's Athletic Daniel North celebrates his goal against Bray Wanderers on Friday night.
St. Patrick's Athletic Daniel North celebrates his goal against Bray Wanderers on Friday night.
Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

1. Derry record biggest win of the season

DERRY CITY GAVE their fans seven separate reasons to cheer on Friday night as they destroyed UCD 7-0, with Eamon Zayed bagging a hat-trick. It was the perfect tonic for Stephen Kenny’s men after their 3-0 defeat to Sligo Rovers last week but they did have the excuse of having just eight players on the pitch after three sendings-off at The Showgrounds.

The Candystripes are still three points behind Shamrock Rovers in second place but they face Drogheda United at home tonight. In their current form, they should have far too much for the basement side.

2. Drogs still winless and destined for early drop

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Drogheda continued their woeful form with yet another home defeat. Bohemians had to depend on a Killian Brennan strike on the half hour mark to defeat Drogs, but it still means Mick Cooke’s team are without a win and are currently nine points adrift of climbing out of the bottom two.

The point has been made before, but the only hope for Drogs to survive is if they bring in a raft of decent signings during the transfer window. However, the finances simply aren’t at Hunky Dorys Park, plus no top quality player would want to join a team that looks like a dead certainty for relegation either.

One possible signing that Cooke could make would be former striker Declan O’Brien, who has been doing well in the First Division with Monaghan United. Whether ‘Fabio’ wants to move back to the Drogs remains to be seen.

3. Pat’s hit hot streak

St Patrick’s Athletic finally look to be coming into a rich vein of form after they defeated Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night to record their third win on the bounce. Pete Mahon’s men made a stuttering start to the campaign but an unbeaten run that stretches back until early April now sees the Saints in fourth place, six points off the pace.

Danny North won the game on Friday night with his punt 13 minutes from time, but Pat’s have their most difficult test in a while this evening when they host the champions at Richmond Park. If they can keep the unbeaten run going, it would not only be a further boost in Inchicore but also a favour to the rest of the chasing pack.

4. Fourmidable Sheppard fources Rovers to defeat Bit O’Red

While three is often called the magic number, it was four for Karl Sheppard and Shamrock Rovers on Friday night as they defeated Sligo for the fourth time already this season.

Sheppard scored his fourth goal in four league games to condemn Paul Cook’s men to yet another loss and with at least two more meetings between the sides to come before the end of the season, you wouldn’t put it beyond the Hoops from making it a clean sweep.

Derry, and indeed the rest of the chasing pack, keep doing their best to stay in touch with the Hoops, but at present it looks like they’re a step – or three points – ahead of the rest each week. Michael O’Neill’s side head to Inchicore later on this evening before next Saturday’s Setanta Cup final against Dundalk.

5. Can Dundalk end their Dayler drought?

The Lilywhites travel to Dalymount Park tonight to face Bohemians and to say a win in Phibsboro is long overdue would be just a slight understatement. The Lilywhites haven’t won away to Bohs since March 1993, while manager Ian Foster hasn’t had the best record against the Gypsies either.

He has managed Dundalk against Pat Fenlon’s side on nine separate occasions, losing seven times, while their meeting in Oriel Park back in March finished scoreless.

The Louth team do have some form going into the game though, because they’re unbeaten in five – their last league defeat coming against Derry City on April 8th. Despite currently standing in seventh position, if other results go their way a win tonight could see them move up to as high as third place before the cup final next weekend.

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