The race to the league title enters its final run in now as only 9 games remain for the majority of sides. Only 5 points separate the top 4 as St Pat's lead the way on 50 points and surprise package of the season Dundalk are 1 point behind in 2nd spot. Sligo Rovers and Derry City are both a few points behind and will be ready to pounce on any slips ups by the Saints or the Lilywhites. Last week 5th placed Shamrock Rovers suffered the final blow to their league ambitions as St. Pats inflicted a nightmare on the Tallaght side, defeating them 4--0 with the Hoops finishing with 9 men at the final whistle. Sligo, Drogheda and Derry all had convincing wins while Dundalk and Cork edged out their opponents by a single goal also claiming 3 points. Bohemians are rock bottom with 18 points while Bray, Shelbourne and UCD are keeping their heads above water as they struggle for survival in the Premier Division. Limerick, Cork and Drogheda are all but safe from relegation and will be looking forward to succeeding in the FAI Cup that begins next week for the top flight clubs. Last week as a whole saw no draws and 17 goals scored in total.
Bohemians -v- Shamrock Rovers
This is the biggest match in domestic football and needs no introduction. The 'Dublin Derby' will take place in Dalymount Park on Friday night as the Gypsies and the Hoops battle it out in what is always a spicy clash. Bohs haven't won at home in the league since April and are struggling for wins. Caretaker manager/player Owen Heary has a lot to do with his young inexperienced side if they are to avoid relegation. Rovers are having a yo-yo season with frustrating draws a plenty. Trever Croly is under a lot of pressure as his side struggle for consistency. The previous two meetings between them this season ended in draws but I feel the Hoops will edge this one by a single goal. They're priced at 4/6.
Bray Wanderers -v- Cork City
It's 7th against 11th here as the Carlisle Grounds will see the Leesiders visit the Wicklow outfit. Bray are having a season that would be seen as normal by many. Mixed results, few wins and struggling to survive relegation. Pat Devlin as always sets up his side well and will be no push over especially at home. However Cork will be on a high from last week's win over Bohs and will be favourites to take all 3 points. I think Bray playing at home will make it difficult for Cork, so I reckon this has a draw all over it at 11/5.
Derry City -v- Drogheda United
The Candystripes will be extremely hard to beat at home in the Brandywell. Drogheda haven't lost since the 28th June but like Shamrock Rovers have drawn too many matches for their liking. Derry are coming into this one full of confidence after a convincing win against UCD last week. The Drogs also convincingly won as they defeated Limerick 3-0. I can't see Drogheda winning this one however. I feel Derry will be too strong for their opponents and a win is priced at evens.
Dundalk -v- Sligo Rovers
The surprise team of the season has definitely been Dundalk. They have gone from strength to strength under Stephen Kenny and right in the mix for the league title. The Louth men are on a 3 match winning streak and haven't lost in the league since June. Defending champions Sligo sit right behind Dundalk in the table and therefore means this clash can be considered a definite 6 pointer. The Bit O' Red have done reasonably well on the road with good wins in recent weeks, especially an important 2-1 win against Derry a fortnight ago. For me this will be a very close encounter and a draw is priced at 11/5.
Limerick -v- UCD
Thomond Park will host newcomers Limerick and the Dublin students on Friday night as both sides will be desperate to get the victory. Limerick have been up and down lately with draws and defeats being the order of the day. Stuart Taylor has a talented group but it's a case of inconsistency occurring all too often week in week out. UCD on the other hand have only suffered one defeat in their last 6 outings. I can see this being a close scrappy affair with the outcome being a draw at 9/4.
St Patrick’s Athletic -v- Shelbourne
St. Pat's are in pole position at the top of the league and are bidding for their first title since 1999. They have been strong on the road and even stronger at home. Shels have improved of late but their inexperience and limited resources will be their downfall here in my opinion. Liam Buckley has his side firing on all cylinders and aren't showing any signs of letting up as the games dwindle out. Shelbourne's last away defeat came at the end of May but I think that statistic that will come to an end at Richmond Park. St Pat's are priced at 7/2.
If all of my predictions were to happen this week you will win €713.14 off just €5!