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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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Silverware, pride and staying afloat - what's at stake on the final day of the season

It’s not all about the race for the title, you know.

There is plenty at stake on the final day of another exciting season.
There is plenty at stake on the final day of another exciting season.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

FOR A LEAGUE that is often degraded, there is never any shortage of entertainment in the SEE Airtricity League.

Another fascinating season comes to a head this evening with the destination of the title yet to be decided and while all eyes will be on Oriel Park, there is equally significant games being played elsewhere.

That both the race for the title and the less glamorous, albeit equally thrilling, relegation dogfight have come down to the final set of fixtures only underlies the virtues that makes the league what it is. The detractors are the ones missing out.

At the top of the table, the equation is simple. After Dundalk relinquished top-spot to Cork City last week, they know nothing less than three points will be enough to clinch the title that many feel their performances over the course of the last seven months have merited.

However, Cork, who have a slender one-point advantage, are in pole position. John Caulfield’s side just need to avoid defeat and the title is theirs. The stakes couldn’t be higher in the winner-takes-all bout.

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In addition to the glory, acclaim and bragging rights (not forgetting the €100,000 cheque), the league winners go into the Champions League second qualifying round for 2015/16 season.

The clubs who finish second and third as well as the FAI Cup winners will enter the Europa League qualifying first round. But, here’s where you have to pay attention.

St Patrick’s Athletic’s superior goal difference means they’re all but assured of third spot but Shamrock Rovers, who will finish fourth, may sneak into Europe if their Dublin rivals end their cup hoodoo next week. Derry City might have something to say about that, however.

Firstly, the Candystripes will be hoping to secure a top-half finish when they face Bohemians at Dalymount Park. They do, however, require Limerick to slip-up in Tallaght to finish in sixth.

Bray Wanderers showed all their grit and tenacity in recent weeks to avoid being dragged into the relegation scrap. Yet, they could still have a significant part to play as the Seagulls, who secured their Premier Division status last week, travel to Athlone to face the league’s bottom club.

Aaron Callaghan It's too tight for comfort at the foot of the table for UCD boss Aaron Callaghan Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

That the Midlanders go into the final game with their heads still above water is in achievement in itself. They started the campaign with ten consecutive defeats but halted that run with a point against tonight’s opponents. It would be a remarkable turnaround should they pull off the great escape.

It’s in UCD hands though. An unexpected, but priceless, win at the Brandywell last time out ensured the Students remained above the line but their cushion over Athlone is just a point.

Aaron Callaghan will be hoping his side can take care of their own business and not rely on results elsewhere. Victory over Drogheda would relegate Athlone and send UCD into the relegation/promotion play-off with either Galway or Shelbourne. Anything less than three points would open the door for Keith Long’s side.

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Athlone’s superior goal difference means, should UCD slip to another home defeat, they would only require a draw to give themselves a lifeline. Got that?

The side that finishes 11th will face a two-legged tie against either Galway or Shelbourne. President Michael D Higgins will be at Tolka Park for tonight’s second leg between the two sides with Galway leading 2-0.

Strap yourself in!

Tonight’s fixtures (all 7.45pm):

  • Athlone Town v Bray Wanderers
  • Bohemians v Derry City
  • Dundalk v Cork City (live on RTÉ 2)
  • Shamrock Rovers v Limerick
  • Sligo Rovers v St Patrick’s Athletic
  • UCD v Drogheda

Promotion play-off second leg (8pm):

  • Shelbourne (0) v Galway (2) 

‘I was told everything was banjaxed’ – Dundalk’s Stephen O’Donnell on his injury nightmare

Dundalk v Cork City: 7 matches that defined the title race

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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