Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Donall Farmer/INPHO Rebels boss John Caulfield.
# Talking Points
Are Cork City's title hopes over after back-to-back defeats?
Elsewhere, it is getting seriously tight at the other end of the table due to the resurgence of Sligo Rovers and Limerick.

Hoops hitting form, Rebels slump to consecutive defeats

SHAMROCK ROVERS PUT in one of their best performances of the season on Monday night, and in doing so, most likely ended Cork City’s title challenge.

Now 10 points off leaders Dundalk, John Caufield’s men looked lethargic in Tallaght, but, more worryingly, they lacked ideas in the final third. Injuries to key players have obviously played a part in Cork losing twice in four days and conceding six goals, but having had such a strong away record this season (unbeaten in 12 games) before Monday night’s 3-0 loss, it will be the significant drop in performance levels that will worry Caufield most.

Meanwhile, Rovers are hitting form just at the right time. Although trailing Dundalk by 12 points, they have a game in hand and have to play the current champions twice, but, more importantly, they look like a team who could potentially kick on now, with their big players playing really well.

Brandon Miele is one of the best young players in the league, and the influence of Damien Duff will surely help him going forward, while Danny North looks to be someway back to his best. Added to this, a slight tweak in their usual formation of 4-2-3-1 to 4-1-4-1, with Gary McCabe advancing slightly, seems to give them a real threat every time they go forward. McCabe has been, at least for this reporter, one of the players of the season.

With injuries to Keith Fahey, Stephen McPhail and Pat Cregg during the year, the former winger was drafted into the middle, and his creativity, energy, and tough tackling has certainly been one of the staples of Rovers’ recent form.

- Simon Walsh

Bit O’Red on the up

Is Micky Adams the saviour? Sligo Rovers, who have really struggled to win games this season, picked up their second in three days beating both Drogheda and Derry with pretty convincing performances. He has players back playing in their natural positions once again, and it’s proving a treat.

All at Sligo Rovers look to be enjoying their football again, and their relegation fears have been eased somewhat, as they are fully aware of what they are capable of. Is Adams going to be the man to save Sligo? It’s very possible that he is. Things were really bad prior to his appointment, but thanks to a couple of changes within the team, it’s all worked so far and he could prove to be an excellent appointment as manager.

- Jessica Farry 

Race to avoid the drop hotting up

It’s getting very tight at the bottom. Longford lead the bottom half with 25 points, yet sit just nine points from automatic relegation. Limerick are giving themselves a fighting chance, but they need to stop conceding goals. Their nearest rivals are Sligo Rovers – six points ahead. Galway, Derry and Drogheda are all still in the mix.

What Monday night proved more than anything was that teams at the bottom aren’t afraid to go for it, and that the race for survival is every bit as exciting as the race for the title.

The crowd spoke for itself – as nearly 1,800 people flocked to the Markets Field to witness yet another goal fest – competing directly with Liverpool on Sky.

We could be in for a grandstand finish at the foot of the table.

- Andrew Cunneen 

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Lilywhites back on track

After a lacklustre few weeks, Dundalk swept the league’s form side away at Oriel Park on Monday evening. To come out of a tough period with an even greater lead in the title race than they held previously is a big result for Dundalk.

Much of that is owed to successive Cork City defeats, but a four goal demolition against St Pat’s proves that Stephen Kenny’s side are out of their mini-rut. Expect them to romp to title victory now.

- Barry Landy

Depleted Galway hold Drogs

It was a pity the smallest crowd of the league season at Eamonn Deacy Park gathered to witness such a passionate performance from Galway United. Tommy Dunne’s squad was depleted, 10 players were absent due to injuries and suspensions so three U19s were forced to start.

Unsurprisingly, Drogheda dominated most of an interesting match, but the spirit Galway showed bodes well ahead of a demanding two months. Afterwards both managers, Dunne and Johnny McDonnell, acknowledged that a fascinating relegation battle ‘will go down to the wire’. The fact that Galway ended a four match losing streak with a depleted team was satisfactory.

- Cian O’Connell
Originally published at 1.53pm 

Dundalk take huge step towards back-to-back titles by dismantling St Pat’s

Former Leicester manager Micky Adams is already working miracles at Sligo