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5 things to look out for in the League of Ireland this weekend

It’s been a fascinating first few months in the League of Ireland and the action just keeps on coming thick and fast.

Ahead of this weekend, we take a look at five things to look out for in the latest round of fixtures.

Can Finn Harps pick up their second win of the season?

After sixteen attempts Ollie Horgan masterminded a first league win of the season from his Finn Harps side and another win tomorrow night against Waterford could see them go level on points with ninth-placed UCD.

A tough start like that for any side would usually already have them doomed to propping up table for the remainder of the season, but UCD themselves have taken maximum points on just three occasions so every point gained will be crucial for both sides in their bid to avoid the drop.

Despite what the league table says, Finn Park is a tough place to go and with Horgan’s side having the benefit of a week off last weekend it will be interesting to see if they can make it two wins from two at home. It’s amazing what a win and a bit of confidence can do for a team and a dressing room.

Ticket info: Finn Harps, Waterford 

Can Keith Long get a positive response in the derby?

It has been a hugely impressive start to the season for everyone around Dalymount Park, and it’s fantastic to see that the huge amount of work being invested by Keith Long, Trevor Croly and everybody else at the club is paying off with positive results on the field, and just as importantly with everything off the field too.

The fans are also playing their part in what has already been such a memorable season with the sold out signs around the Jodi Stand getting plenty of use each week. There is such a good buzz around Dalymount Park these days and it is obvious to see the warm connection that exists between both the fans and the players on the pitch. The players appreciate the support and the fans appreciate the commitment, hunger and desire that each and every one of the players are putting in week in week out.

The wheels have fallen off slightly in the last two weeks with two consecutive home defeats to Cork and Dundalk but a feisty Dublin derby against St. Pats is the perfect opportunity for these players to respond and I’ve no doubt that’s what we’ll see.

Ticket Info: Bohs, St.Pats.

Cork to continue their recovery against Dundalk?

Cork welcome Dundalk to Turners Cross tomorrow evening and despite their contrasting fortunes so far this season,  and a 15 point difference in the league table, this fixture as always is so hard to call.

Two wins from two for John Cotter and his backroom staff since the departure of John Caulfield. A side that are slowly starting to believe in their collective ability again and a side that are growing in confidence little by little. Cork City haven’t turned into a bad side overnight and a positive result tomorrow night in front of a packed Turners Cross could be the turning point in their season and the beginning of their steady climb back up the table over the coming months. John Cotter, Alan Bennett, and Colin Healy are three hugely passionate men when it comes to football and more importantly when it comes to the success of Cork City.

It won’t be too long before they have this team back where they belong and challenging towards the top of the table but these things take time, so a point against Dundalk and seven points from their last nine would be a very encouraging start. We reckon Cork will battle their way to a positive result against Dundalk in front of a packed Turners Cross.

Ticket info: Cork, Dundalk

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The Students to be taught another lesson

Despite playing a really attractive brand of football and having some top quality players in their side, UCD have lost their last six league games in a row and welcome a well-rested Shamrock Rovers to Belfield tomorrow night in what will be one of their toughest assignments yet.

Collie O’Neill, in fairness to him, has stuck to his beliefs of keeping the ball to feet and trying to play football. Some of the football they produce is the best you’ll see this season, but I feel at times they may need to change their style a small bit to give themselves a better chance against certain teams or at certain grounds.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone wants to see football played the way UCD play week in week out, but for their own survival chances and to improve their probability of picking up points at times, they may need to do what it takes to get a result even if it does mean sacrificing playing nice football at times.

Shamrock Rovers are well rested coming into this game with no fixture last week and will be raring to go as they look to start building up momentum again towards a sustained title challenge. With Dundalk facing a tricky trip to play Cork City, it’s a chance for Stephen Bradley and his team to take the lead at the top again in what is going to be a fascinating race to the finish.

Ticket info: UCD, Shamrock Rovers

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Cabinteely’s rise to the top

Cabinteely’s 1-0 away win against Longford Town was a huge result for Pat Devlin’s young side and one that on the night was well deserved. It has been a big week for Cabinteely picking up maximum points against promotion favourites Shelbourne and Longford Town and although the football may not have been the prettiest at times, they got the job done and came away from both games with maximum points and that’s all that matters.

The main thing that stood out for me watching them against Longford last Saturday evening was their savage work rate and support for each other for the entire 90 minutes and it never let up once. By the time the final whistle sounded the players were wrecked and completely out on their feet, but that’s the way it should be and their reward for that was another well deserved three points and a two-point lead at the top of the table.

Another thing that strikes me about this squad, and I’ve no doubt the experience of Pat Devlin plays a huge part in this, is that under no circumstances are any of them getting carried away with the run they are currently on. Speaking to one or two of the players the day after the game, all they were talking about was their next game against Drogheda and how tough they were going to have it again. They are taking it week by week and game by game, but with the work rate and hunger they are showing week in week out on the pitch, there is no reason this team can’t go on to have a very memorable and successful season.

Ticket info: Cabinteely, Drogheda

Check out our exclusive interview with Chris Waddle, where he discusses the best Irish player he ever faced, and what it was like facing Big Jack’s Boys in Green at the 1990 World Cup.