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Dundalk playing like champions, Hoops frustrated and the weekend's LOI talking points

Drogheda can’t buy a win at the moment while Aaron Greene impressed for St Patrick’s Athletic.

Dundalk midfielder Ronan Finn is tackled by Cork's Ross Gaynor.
Dundalk midfielder Ronan Finn is tackled by Cork's Ross Gaynor.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Champions prevail in meeting of top two

WE’RE ONLY 10 games into the new campaign and Dundalk already have one hand on the trophy.

Can they be stopped by either Cork City, Shamrock Rovers or anyone else? Unless the champions are hit by an injury crisis or their squad is raided by clubs from across the Irish Sea, it’s difficult to see them being denied back-to-back Premier Division titles for the first time in their history.

The loss of Pat Hoban in the close-season was seen as a major setback, but the reality is that Stephen Kenny’s side are better now than they were in 2014. Kenny has assembled a group of talented players and turned them into one of the most impressive teams the League of Ireland has seen for many a year.

Over the course of a season, they may have their slip-ups along the way — being held to a draw in Limerick earlier this month, for example — but the Lilywhites look very unlikely to drop enough points to allow City and/or Rovers to overtake them.

The gap is already five points. Dundalk played away to both of their main title rivals in the space of eight days and emerged with four points from a possible six. Only the sending-off of goalkeeper Gary Rogers in Tallaght cost them the maximum haul. This is an extremely good Dundalk team and it’ll take something special to stop them.

- Paul Dollery 

Hoops still moving up the gears

Shamrock Rovers failed to beat basement side Limerick at Jackman Park, despite creating a huge number of chances including two efforts off the woodwork and a disallowed goal from Ryan Brennan. On any other night, the Hoops may well have won by six or seven, but plucky Limerick defended heroically well to deny them three points.

Perhaps a good experience for Rovers in the long run, plenty of sides will sit as deep and compact as Limerick did on Saturday night and considering the amount of chances the Hoops created, it looks as though they’re equipped to break down even the thickest defensive walls.

Brandon Miele’s 87th minute equaliser leaves Rovers six points off top, but this team looks as though they’re only warming up and the finished product will be both defensively sound and a force going forward.

- Andrew Cunneen

Saints miss Fagan but Greene steps up to see off Bit O’Red

Aaron Greene celebrates scoring Saints goalscorer Aaron Greene. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Starting with two strikers, just as Drogheda had done five days prior in Inchicore, should have given Sligo at least a chance of having some say in the game, but they were toothless in the final third, and sloppy at the back.

Meanwhile, Liam Buckley will be delighted with the performance of Aaron Greene. Towards the end of last season the Saints’ boss said Greene’s injury-hit start to his Pat’s career meant it would be like having a new player this season, and it has certainly worked out that way.

He looks strong and fit, carries a huge threat, and has the ability to come inside or run the flanks, which is something every team would be happy to have. One issue is the absence of Christy Fagan. Ciaran Kilduff is a good player and can lead the line, but he lacks the finesse of last year’s joint top goalscorer. If Pat’s are to challenge they will need to get Fagan back playing.

- Simon Walsh 

Drogs winless run continues

It should be said that Longford were well worth their 3-0 victory at United Park but after such a promising result in Inchicore last Monday, this is a new low for Drogheda as their winless streak now stretches to eight games. Johnny McDonnell’s side have now failed to keep a league clean sheet since the opening day of the season.

Their defensive record is among the division’s worst. They’re finding goals hard to come by. And their best midfielder in Sean Thornton will miss the next three games. Where to start?

- Barry Landy

Originally published Sunday at 07.47

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