League of Ireland Predictions Revisited

The League of Ireland season was finally brought to its conclusion this weekend, with Finn Harps edging Limerick out by two goals to nil after extra time on Friday night to replace them in the Premier Division, before Dundalk triumphed over Cork earlier today in the FAI Cup final to complete a domestic double in a year that has been defined by the Lilywhites’ dominance.

Back in March I wrote an article attempting to predict how the Premier Division table would look come the end of the season, and because I’m a glutton for punishment I’m taking a look back to see how (in)accurate I was.

(Incidentally, said article can be read HERE for those who are interested in my air-tight rationale)

What I predicted:

  1. Dundalk
  2. Cork City
  3. Shamrock Rovers
  4. St. Pat’s
  5. Sligo Rovers
  6. Bohemians
  7. Derry City
  8. Drogheda United
  9. Longford Town
  10. Limerick
  11. Galway United
  12. Bray Wanderers

What actually transpired:

  1. Dundalk
  2. Cork City
  3. Shamrock Rovers
  4. St. Pat’s
  5. Bohemians
  6. Longford Town
  7. Derry City
  8. Bray Wanderers
  9. Sligo Rovers
  10. Galway United
  11. Limerick
  12. Drogheda United

…not bad, right?

Unfortunately for me, it seems my best call was that my beloved Pat’s were set to thoroughly underwhelm relative to the majority’s expectations. A natural inertia that comes with having an over-reliance on the same players for years in succession saw a very stop-start season for the Inchicore side, which wasn’t aided by persistent injury troubles as well as the sale of Chris Forrester to Peterborough United in August. While there may not quite be the wholesale changes people anticipate in the coming months, freshening up of the squad is a necessity at this stage and the rumour mill has already begun, with Keith Treacy and Mark Timlin among those linked with moves to Richmond Park.

Sligo were the surprise package for all of the wrong reasons. As is the custom for the league, how the bottom half would play out was anyone’s guess, given the similar quality (or lack thereof) of the sides that inhabit it. What was unexpected however was the unmitigated disaster Owen Heary’s tenure at the club turned out to be, with the Bit o’Red flirting dangerously close to relegation for much of the campaign, only becoming mathematically safe thanks to an away win at Pat’s on the second to last week of the season. Micky Adams has since come and gone as manager also, citing personal reasons for having to leave his post so quickly, as Sligo enter an off-season that is to be laden with uncertainty.

As previously stated however, Dundalk’s ruthless superiority has been the story of the season. It speaks volumes about the job Stephen Kenny has done there that a side possessing the talents of Richie Towell, Daryl Horgan, Ronan Finn et al is routinely described as being greater than the sum of its parts. Cork maintained a valiant but ultimately futile effort to run them close for the second year running, and it seems as though it’s going to take an extraordinary effort from one of the chasing pack to have any hope of preventing the Lilywhites from making it three in a row.

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