There is no doubt that if you are a supporter of the SSE Airtricity League you are in for a treat every season. There is so much that goes on in and around the game that sometimes the stories you hear can be quiet incredible. It is not always about the football that you talk about when you meet up with the other die hard fans. Quite recently the main topic was about the financial struggles of Bray Wanderers and Limerick this season and the problems it has caused for players. These players have families and like in any walk of life they need looking after. In the case of Bray they seem to have been on a slippery slope now for a few seasons and have rolled from one mess to another. They now have a new owner in place called Niall O’ Driscoll and we can only hope with his finances and enthusiasm they can leave the bad days behind. Limerick on the other hand in my opinion have suffered after putting a lot of money into the club in trying to regain their Premier league place last season. We can only hope over the next couple of weeks that these stories will be left behind and these two great clubs can settle down and move onwards and upwards.
On the field of play it has been Dundalk and Cork City fighting it out this season for the top honours. There is nothing new about that and they have been swapping the top two places for most of the season and as we now head into the last couple of weeks of the season Dundalk are sitting on top of the league. Cork City are now chasing the men from Louth after they lost at home to Sligo Rovers in their last home game, a result nobody expected and it was a shattering blow to manager John Caulfield and the supporters. Although these two clubs are far better than anyone else in the league, their European campaigns this season have been disappointing once again. In fact over the past couple of seasons it has only really been Dundalk who have had any sort of success in Europe. Waterford have been the suprise package of this years campaign and as I write sit fourth in the league, which is a magnificent effort from Alan Reynolds men. Waterford are owned by Lee Power who is a former Irish under 21 international and a man who is also in charge of Swindon Town. His leadership at board room level has been a big plus for the Waterford club and if they can keep progressing as a club they will be pushing the top two next season. If they can keep up this seasons form right up until the last game they could possibly make it to Europe, now that would be some achievement on their first season back in the Premier league. As it stands going into final games of the season they sit two points behind third place Shamrock Rovers , who themselves have had a strange campaign this season. Although they sit in third spot they have never really got any sort of momentum going that might have given them a chance of title glory. As I mentioned earlier the two teams who have found themselves in financial meltdown have really had a disasterous campaign and find themselves at the bottom of the table. As it stands at the moment they could both be heading for Division One next season although one of them might save themselves through the play offs.
Division One has been fascinating as well this season and there is sure to be plenty of excitement as we move towards the end. UCD are home and hosed as in my opinion they won’t be caught. Finn Harps and Shelbourne are sitting second and third with only four points separating them. Shelbourne slipped up big time in their last home game when they could only manage a draw against bottom club Athlone Town, that result gives Finn Harps a huge advantage with only a couple of games left. Shelbourne manager Owen Heary must be delighted how his team have performed this season and to be still in the race at this stage of the campaign is a credit to him and his team. You do not always get what you deserve in football, but if Shelbourne can manage to get promotion, although it might have to be through the play offs, it will see one of the great names of Irish football back dining again next season at the top table of Irish football.
So as we go into the final weeks of both divisions a lot is still to be decided and no doubt we will have a few more twists and turns, sure what other way would you want it in the SSE Airtricity League.