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SSE Airtricity League more competitive than ever

Turners Cross, home of Cork City FC. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

We’re almost halfway through this season’s Airtricity League and unlike recent years, the division has been much more fierce with teams battling it out at both ends of the table.

At the top of the spectrum, Dundalk and Cork City are unsurprisingly joint top with 28 points, but the newly promoted Waterford are just four points off having taken the league by storm.

 

Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk became only the second team in Irish football history to record eight straight clean sheets and Cork have shown why they’re the reigning champions.

Sharpshooters Pat Hoban and Graham Cummins have seven goals to their name and their form will be key to either side’s title ambitions.

 

Waterford’s purposeful transfer window has paid dividends as new recruits Lawrence Vigouroux, Bastien Hery and Stanley Aborah have fired them to third in the table on 24 points.

 

Derry City’ eight-game unbeaten run has catapulted them into fourth on 22 points and Kenny Shiels won’t rule out a title charge. Midfielder Aaron McEneff has been in inspiring form with six goals.

 

Going further down the table, Shamrock Rovers and St. Patrick’s Athletic are tied on 17 points. Rovers boss Stephen Bradley has come under intense scrutiny following a rotten run of results including a gut-wrenching 2-1 loss to fierce rivals Bohemians.

 

The one shining light in the Hoops’ season has been Graham Burke, the division’s top scorer with eight goals. The former Aston Villa attacker has scored a series of unbelievable strikes.

The sides battling to avoid the dreaded drop are Bohemians, Limerick, Sligo Rovers and Bray Wanderers.

 

Keith Long’s youthful part-timers have played some good football this season but still only have three wins to their name, including two against Shamrock Rovers. The emergence of youngsters Darragh Leahy, Daniel Grant and Dylan Watts has been a bright spot in their campaign.

 

Bohs sit on 12 points while Sligo (11) and Limerick (10) are hot on their tails. Both sides will be disheartened by their form so far but can find solace in the fact that they are not too far gone.

 

The same cannot be said for Bray Wanderers, a club in turmoil. Bottom of the table with just four points, Bray made the decision to sack Dave Mackey and they look likely to be playing First Division football next season.

 

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