Saturday 20 January 2018

Eleven from eleven an enviable Rovers record

Alan Freeman of Shamrock Rovers beats Glen Carty (Wexford Bohemians) in their last Premier Division clash as Garreth Larkin looks on approvingly.
Alan Freeman of Shamrock Rovers beats Glen Carty (Wexford Bohemians) in their last Premier Division clash as Garreth Larkin looks on approvingly.

BRENDAN FURLONG Sports reporter

ELEVEN WINS from eleven games played only tells part of the tale, as Shamrock Rovers have emerged as the warmest of favourties to win their third Premier Division title in a row.

But this is only part of the story as the club's second string has also emerged as title contenders in Division 1 where they fit into second position at the moment, just two points behind leaders Kilmore United with two games less played. They are being chased by Ferns United, St. Leonards and Ajax Athletic in what is emerging as the most competitive division in the league.

One cannot doubt the efficiency of the conveyor belt feeding the Enniscorthy side's Premier Division team, as their second string provides a back-up with a mix of youth and experience, while their underage section is also thriving, leaving them one of the most dominant clubs in local Junior soccer.

Although a lot of the attention is focused on their bid for a third successive Premier Division title, Shamrock Rovers have taken the enforced break over Christmas and new year, along with the enforced weatherdriven free weekend, to focus on their season so far. They must feel very comfortable as they face into the crucial months of the season having built a comfortable position at the head of the title race.

Their minds have been centred on creating history with their three-in-a-row bid, but they could yet discover how difficult the task is, as they will be made to work for the points as the heat of battle builds up over the coming months.

Still, their one hundred per cent record from eleven games played leaves them in a coveted position, nine points clear of their nearest challengers, high-flying Moyne Rangers, who have one game less played. While Campile United and Courtown Hibs slot into the following two positions, they look very much out of the title race.

Although a lot of attention has been focused on North End's magnificent run in both the F.A.I. Junior Cup and Leinster Junior Cup competitions, it must be realised that they are still the only side with a realistic chance of denying the title bid of their great rivals.

North End sit in mid-table with 18 points from just seven games played, but crucially they lost out in their head-to-head with Shamrock Rovers. Should the Wexford town side pick up full points from all of their four games in hand, it would see them just three points adrift of the holders, with a huge game still to come in Belvedere.

Shamrock Rovers should be wary of a potential backlash from the North End charges. Full points from their other fixtures and a home victory over Rovers would leave the sides deadlocked at the top of the table. Both Shamrock Rovers and North End are firing on all cylinders at the moment, building momentum as they head into the crucial weeks of the season.

One should also not forget that the Wexford League are still very much in Oscar Traynor contention, and with North End providing a bulk of the players, going along with their cup commitments, games could very well test the strength in depth of their squad and determine what silverware will rest on the sideboard come the end of the season.

But right now it looks as if Shamrock Rovers are the favourites to negotiate their way to another Premier title.

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