The Airtricity League is shaping up nicely as it enters its last series of matches. It's tight at the top with St. Pats leading the way on 46 points. Dundalk, Derry City and Sligo Rovers are close on the Saints' heels, them all only being a few points behind. Shamrock Rovers lie in 5th which would be considered unacceptable by many, have some catching up to do as they are currently on 36 points. The rest of the clubs in the league are in a dog fight as they fight for survival in the Premier Division, with only eight points separating 6th spot and 12th. Last week saw no upsets or shocks what so ever. The top 3 all recorded victories as the two Rovers played out a scoreless draw. One interesting fact from last week's matches is that no side won by two or more goals as four matches were won by a single goal and two draws were played out.
Bohemians -v- UCD
Bohs are on a slippery slope a the moment as they currently lie rock bottom of the table. With no official manager appointed yet, club captain Owen Heary has taken the reigns in a caretaker for next two months. The Gypsies stopped the rot of four consecutive defeats two weeks ago when they defeated Bray and held Drogheda to a draw last week. UCD haven't won since the 28th June recording two draws and a loss against Shelbourne last week. These two out of form sides are struggling for wins, so I reckon this has a draw all over it and is priced at 11/5.
Derry City -v- Sligo Rovers
The Brandywell will host a mouth-watering clash between the Candystripes and the Bit O' Red. Both clubs are settling back in to normal surroundings after their European campaigns ended in disappointment. Sligo appear so be stumbling slightly as they've hit a grey patch in recent weeks. Defeat to Cork and draws with the Hoops and St. Pat's have seen them slip to 4th in the table. Derry however are on a more balanced run as they have won three and lost three of their last six games. I think this will be a tight one as Derry are strong at home but a win might be too much of ask against the reigning champions. A draw here is also at 11/5.
Dundalk -v- Shamrock Rovers
Dundalk have been the surprise of the season achieving a lot of success, particularly on their artificial pitch in Oriel Park. Stephen Kenny has gotten the most out of his young side and their results reflect that. The Lilywhites have won three of their last four outings and are unbeaten at home in their last three. The Hoops are always a dangerous side with their calibre but always seem to struggle to score and win in Oriel Park. The pitch will clearly suit Dundalk's style of play but defeating the 2010 and 2011 champions will be a hard task. Once again I can see a stalemate being played out here at 9/4.
Limerick -v- Cork City
It is 6th against 7th here as the Munster derby takes place in the impressive Thomond Park. Limerick and Cork are both up and down with a lack of consistency week in week out. They should be clear of any relegation worries but both teams will want to win this derby. One interesting thing to note is that both clubs haven't won in the league since the 5th July. Limerick have drawn a lot while Cork always prove to be a stern test away from home. Recent singing Ciaran Kilduff has helped City's cause with three goals in his first four appearances. I think City will come away with a win. They're priced at 11/5.
St Patrick’s Athletic -v- Drogheda United
St. Pats are the in form side at the moment, leading the league by three points. In their last six games they have four wins, one draw and one loss. The Drogs are struggling for form with wins coming hard to get in recent weeks. The Saints have remarkably only lost one match since the 2nd April. Liam Buckley sets up his side well every week with fast attacking football at the centre of this philosophy. The Boynesiders have been struggling away from Hunky Dory's Park with defeats and draws galore. For me a St. Pats win is a no brainer at 2/5.
Bray Wanderers -v- Shelbourne
On Sunday the Carlisle Grounds will host a clash between two teams locked on 19 points in the bottom half of the table. Bray haven't done anything of note in recent weeks as they've suffered four defeats and two draws in their last six games. Pat Devlin tries to get the most out of his young squad with their unique style of play. At home they can be difficult to beat as the pitch wouldn't be to everyone's satisfaction combined with the Bray players' eagerness and enthusiasm. Shels are on fire at the moment with new manager Johnny McDonnell turning their fortunes around. They are unbeaten in four matches with their last three ending in superb wins for the Drumcondra side. If Shelbourne were at home I could see them edging this one but because Bray are on home turf I think a tight match is in order. A draw is priced at 23/10.