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# League of Ireland
Barstooler: 5 talking points from last weekend’s Airtricity League action
It was a Brucey Bonus weekend in the Airtricity League Premier with games on Friday and again on Monday. Here’s what got us talking.

Millien making his mark

SLIGO ROVERS’ MARCH towards a first league title in 35 years showed no signs of stalling over the weekend as Ian Baraclough’s men played Shelbourne and UCD off the park in quick succession. A couple of untimely slips by Drogheda leave the Bit O’Red eight points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand and only nine games remaining.

As expectation grows out west, one man who has become increasingly influential is Pascal Millien. The Haitian international has become a more permanent feature in the first team of late, starting five of the last six league games alternating between midfield and as a deputy for the injured Danny North up front.

Pacey and unpredictable, Millien has added another outlet to the Sligo attack and Baraclough will hope that the injury which he sustained in scoring against UCD last night is not too serious.

Lightning strikes twice for Drogs

Come the end of the season, Drogheda might well look back on August as the month that killed their fleeting hopes of a title challenge. Three defeats from four games, including losses against the two Rovers, have let Sligo slip away at the top end and left Shamrock Rovers and St Pat’s breathing down their necks in the race for European spots.

Last night’s 3-2 defeat against Cork City is the first time that Drogs have lost back-to-back games in the league this season. Interestingly the last time they hit a similar slump was at an identical place in the fixture schedule; back in May when they lost again to both Rovers and drew with Bohemians and Cork.

The flipside of that synchronicity is that Drogheda then went on a run of six straight wins following that mid-season blip. If Mick Cooke can rally his troops to replicate that form again, they’ll be hard to dislodge from the top three.

Trouble in Inchicore

It’s been a while since we had any major disciplinary controversy in the league but when trouble reared its ugly head in Inchicore last Friday night, Bray boss Pat Devlin made sure that his players had a strong defender standing behind them.

Three players were sent off before Kieran “Marty” Waters stole a late 1-0 win for the Seagulls against St Pat’s but it was an incident shortly after the hour mark that really stoked Devlin’s ire.  Sean O’Connor fell to the ground holding his face after a clash with Jason Byrne and referee Padraig Sutton showed the Bray striker red.

“It was unbelievable what he (Sean O’Connor) did,” Devlin told “The player dived onto the ground, rolled around the place and conned the referee. I saw it straight in front of me, and there was nothing in it. It was pure gamesmanship.”

Endgame for Mathews?

If the faint rumblings round Drumcondra way are to be believed, Alan Mathews could do with a swift change in Shelbourne’s fortunes before it is too little too late. Shels have only taken eight points from nine games since the mid-season break, a dismal slump which has culminated in five winless games on the bounce.

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Of course when your luck is out nothing ever seems to go your way, a harsh truth which Mathews will surely understand after seeing his side pegged back to a 2-2 draw against Bohemians by an injury-time penalty last night. It doesn’t get any easier though and a tricky three-game run against Derry, Shamrock Rovers and St Pat’s might well lead to a dead end.

Monday night blues

Was it the fact that Manchester United were kicking off their Premier League campaign, doubled down with the added bonus of Robin van Persie making his debut? Probably — but last night’s poor attendances across five top flight games are another sure indicator that there is no real appetite for live Monday night football.

Just over 1,200 were in Dalymount Park for the derby clash between Bohs and Shels (compared to nearly 2,700 at the same venue on a Friday night in March); less than 1,400 were in Turner’s Cross for Cork v Drogheda, a far cry from a crowd which almost touched 4,000 for the same fixture earlier in the season. Only Sligo v UCD — watched by just under 2,400 — provided any sort of solace.

Those numbers don’t lie.

LOI wrap: Sligo march on as Cork edge Lee-side thriller

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