The League of Ireland Premier Division is entering the home stretch of the 2022 campaign and there is still a lot to play for. The title race continues apace, European spots are on the line and let’s not forget the relegation battle.
We saw eight of the 10 Premier Division clubs in action on Friday night – Shamrock Rovers and Finn Harps had their fixture postponed till Sunday afternoon as Rovers had a UEFA Europa Conference League Match on Thursday. In that match against Djurgårdens IF, Shamrock Rovers picked up their first-ever European group stage point in the goalless draw.
Since Shamrock Rovers have a few more days until their match, Dundalk FC had an opportunity to tie their rivals with a win against UCD (“University College Dublin A.F.C.”). Dundalk started Matchday 30 just 3 points behind Rovers after the Football Association of Ireland (“FAI) awarded Dundalk the win in their late August match against Sligo Rovers because Sligo fielded an ineligible player. However, Shamrock Rovers still have three matches in hand on Dundalk.
Derry City FC also had the opportunity to pull within a point of Shamrock Rovers with a win against Bohemians. Derry City was 4 points behind Rovers before their match began on Matchday 30. Rovers have two matches in hand on Derry.
Shamrock Rovers still top League of Ireland Premier Division;
UCD pulls off a stunning win over Dundalk
To start, bottom-of-the-league UCD pulled off an incredible result to beat Dundalk 3-2 to climb out of last place and keep Dundalk from grabbing a share of first place.
UCD trailed by a goal twice in this match but were able to tie it up twice. Tommy Lonergan scored a dramatic 80th minute winner to secure all 3 points. With this result, UCD have now leapfrogged Finn Harps and sit in ninth with 19 points in 29 matches. Finn Harps are 1 point behind while UCD but have a game in hand.
Derry City won a tightly contested match against Bohemians 1-0 as Michael Duffy scored a world-class goal to put Derry in front in the 39th minute. The hosts held onto the lead for the rest of the match. Derry currently occupy second place and sit 1 point behind Shamrock Rovers.
As mentioned above, Shamrock Rovers take part in the final match of Matchday 30 as they host Finn Harps on Sunday at the Tallaght Stadium. The result of this match will be significant on both the title race and relegation battle.
In other matches, Sligo Rovers bounced back from their point deduction in great fashion, rebounding with a 2-0 at Shelbourne. That win now gives The Bit O’ Red two straight victories.
St. Patrick’s Athletic had an impressive win at Drogheda United. St. Pat’s suffered a red card in the 23rd minute, but stuck to their plan and battled for the 3 points. They were rewarded with a Mark Doyle goal in the 69th minute. Then, Mark Forrester scored on a penalty in injury time to increase their lead. This was an impressive win for St. Pat’s who now sit 2 points out of third place, which is a European qualification spot (first-round qualifier in the Conference League).
First Division Roundup
First place Cork City went on the road to third place Waterford and won 2-1 in dramatic fashion thanks to a Ruairi Keating penalty in the 95th minute.
Second place, Galway United continued their struggles as they tied 1-1 with Cobh Ramblers. Galway looked destined to lose but Mikie Rowe scored a stoppage time goal to clinch the tie for Galway.
This means Cork City are one step closer to winning the title. Cork now has a 10 point lead as they have 64 points with four games remaining in their season. Galway still sit in second with 54 points, and Waterford are in third with 50 points. Both Galway and Waterford have a match in hand on Cork.
Cork now have a chance to win the title and gain automatic promotion to the Ireland Premier Division next Friday as they face Galway away.
League of Ireland Supporters: Which club do you predict will be the champions of the Ireland Premier Division? Leave your comments below!