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The title race is over but here's what's still at stake in the SSE Airtricity League

With just three series’ of fixtures remaining, over half of the teams in the Premier Division can still be relegated.

DUNDALK HAVE ALREADY secured back-to-back Premier Division titles with three games to spare, but there’s plenty up for grabs elsewhere in SSE Airtricity League as the 2015 season approaches its conclusion. Here’s the current state of play…

SSE Airtricity League Launch Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The champions

As mentioned, Dundalk are top dogs in the Premier Division again. Friday night’s 1-1 draw with Shamrock Rovers sealed consecutive titles for the Lilywhites for the first time in their history after second-placed Cork City could also only manage a 1-1 draw against Drogheda United. City have a game in hand but with Dundalk 13 points clear and the Leesiders having just four games remaining, Stephen Kenny’s men are out of reach.

In the First Division, Wexford Youths have also got the title race sewn up and are champions for the first time in their nine seasons in the League of Ireland. Their 3-0 win against Athlone Town on 25 September secured the historic triumph at the expense of Finn Harps and UCD in the chasing pack.

Wexford Youths FC v Shelbourne - SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Wexford Youths were presented with the First Division trophy following Friday night's 4-1 defeat of Shelbourne. Source: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

European qualification

As Premier Division champions, Dundalk will be back in the Champions League next season. Cork City and third-placed Shamrock Rovers are both guaranteed places in the Europa League.

The third Europa League spot is designated for the FAI Cup, but with the final on 8 November involving Dundalk and Cork City — both of whom have already sealed European qualification via the league — that extra Europa League place will instead go to the team that finishes in fourth place in the Premier Division.

That’s currently St Patrick’s Athletic [who could still also mathematically finish second]. The Saints are five points ahead of Bohemians and have a game in hand, but Bohs kept their European hopes alive on Friday night by defeating Pat’s 2-0 at Dalymount Park. Bohs have three games remaining, Pat’s have four.

Ian Morris clears the ball under pressure from Ismail Akinade Bohemians stayed in the hunt for European football next season by beating St Patrick's Athletic at the weekend. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Promotion and relegation

There’s still one series of games remaining in the First Division but Finn Harps and UCD have already wrapped up second and third place respectively, which means they’ll meet in a play-off and the winner will take on the team who finishes second-from-bottom in the Premier Division for the right to play top-flight football in 2016. As always, there’s no relegation from the First Division.

It’s in the Premier Division where the picture gets really interesting, with seven of the 12 teams still in danger of relegation. With three games remaining for all the teams in the mix, only six points separate Limerick at the bottom and Derry City in sixth.

However, Limerick are currently the Premier Division’s form team. After failing to win a game all season, they’ve won six of their last nine and only champions Dundalk have beaten them since July. Limerick (26 points) are two points adrift of Drogheda United and Sligo Rovers (both 28). Galway United (29), Longford Town (30), Bray Wanderers (31) and Derry City (32) are also at risk of going down.

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The team that finishes at the bottom of the pile will be automatically relegated, while the aforementioned promotion/relegation play-off against a team from the First Division awaits the side that ends the season second-bottom.

Alan Keane with Ian Turner Sligo Rovers and Limerick are among the teams involved in an exciting Premier Division relegation battle. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Remaining fixtures

Premier Division

Friday, 16 October
Cork City vs. Longford Town (7.45pm)
Dundalk vs. Galway United (7.45pm)
St. Patrick’s Athletic vs. Drogheda United (7.45pm)

Saturday, 17 October
Bray Wanderers vs. Shamrock Rovers (5.45pm)
Limerick vs. Derry City (6.30pm)
Sligo Rovers vs. Bohemians (7.45pm)

Monday, 19 October
St Patrick’s Athletic vs. Cork City (7.45pm)

Friday, 23 October
Cork City vs. Dundalk (7.45pm)
Derry City vs. Bohemians (7.45pm)
Drogheda United vs. Longford Town (7.45pm)
St. Patrick’s Athletic vs. Sligo Rovers (7.45pm)

Saturday, 24 October
Bray Wanderers vs. Galway United (5.45pm)
Limerick vs. Shamrock Rovers (6.30pm)

Friday, 30 October
Bohemians vs. Cork City (7.45pm)
Dundalk vs. Bray Wanderers (7.45pm)
Galway United vs. St. Patrick’s Athletic (7.45pm)
Longford Town vs. Derry City (7.45pm)
Shamrock Rovers vs. Drogheda United (7.45pm)
Sligo Rovers vs. Limerick (7.45pm)

First Division

Saturday, 17 October
Cabinteely vs. Athlone Town (7.45pm)
Finn Harps vs. Wexford Youths (7.45pm)
Shelbourne vs. Cobh Ramblers (7.45pm)
Waterford United vs. UCD (7.45pm)

Table

We now have a Premier Division champion and the relegation battle is really hotting up

Two goals against his former club puts Limerick striker in our LOI Team of the Week

About the author:

Paul Dollery

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