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Drogheda in pole position for promotion


Derek Prendergast

Derek Prendergast

Derek Prendergast


The League of Ireland's second tier will deliver the tension absent from the top flight with a high-wire act on the field before the curtain comes down on the regular season.

And the Drogheda United camp insist they retain a steely focus on completing the job of ending the club's three-year stay in the First Division, a win away to Cabinteely tonight would guarantee them the title and automatic promotion.

"Shamrock Rovers, more or less, had the Premier won after a couple of games but this division has gone right down to the wire," says Drogheda veteran Derek Prendergast.

"It's in our own hands, we'd have taken this at the start of the season, knowing that we win the league if we win our last game. But we still have to go and do that."

All five games in the final round of matches tonight have something at stake, with Bray Wanderers in a position to win the title if Drogheda slip up.

At the end of a wide-open league in a year disrupted by coronavirus, seven of the ten teams in the division still have a chance of promotion.

The first round of play-offs between the sides who finish between second and fifth takes place next Saturday. The ultimate winners of that play-off then take on the side finishing second from bottom in the Premier, probably Finn Harps but possibly Shelbourne.

Drogheda will win the title if they win away to Cabinteely, but Tim Clancy's side can still become champions even if they lose, as long as second-placed Bray fail to beat Athlone Town.

UCD and Longford know that a draw tonight will secure them the play-offs, while Cabinteely need a win to be certain. Galway United, who are at home to UCD, and Cobh Ramblers, who play at home to Shamrock Rovers II, could also make it into the play-offs.

Prendergast was a Drogheda player (2012-13) when they enjoyed Europa League and Premier Division football and he's keen for those good times to come around for a club who were relegated in 2017.

"Whoever wins the league will be worthy champions, the table never lies and hopefully the table tonight says that we are the best team in the division," he says.

"I tasted success here before, cup finals and Europe, we were selling out United Park.

"The club has been through enough heartache, with defeats in the play-offs before, this group would be proud to be the team that takes the club back where it belongs," he added.

Bray manager Gary Cronin has told his side not to lose faith. "We still believe that it's still alive. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that we can do it," he said.