Europe & survival at stake

Monday is the final day of the SSE Airtricity Premier Division with a series of permutations regarding European qualifying and relegation play-offs.

Here we look at why seven of the ten teams in the division are struggling with something important.

We know Shamrock Rovers will be confirmed champions, Bohemia sealed second place and Cork City are relegated at the bottom of the table.

The rest will be decided on Monday from 7.30 p.m.

The fixtures are:

  • Shelbourne gegen Shamrock Rovers, Tolka Park
  • Finn Harps vs. Waterford FC, Finn Park,
  • Cork City gegen Derry City, Turner’s Cross
  • Dundalk FC versus Sligo Rovers, Oriel Park
  • St. Patrick’s Athletic gegen Bohemians, Richmond Park

THE RACE FOR EUROPE

Dundalk, Waterford FC, Sligo Rovers and St. Patrick’s Athletic are fighting for a possible European place.

There is one variable to consider. Third place is a guaranteed European place in the SSE Airtricity League, but for every season since 2014, fourth place also qualifies a team based on a top 3 team that wins the FAI Cup.

This year, only Athlone Town, Finn Harps, Derry City and Sligo Rovers can prevent a top 3 team from winning the trophy.

It means that fourth place is likely to take a place at the European conference in 2021 and play a big role in the league finals.

Dundalk

Dundalk will qualify for Europe if they win or tie against Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park.

A loss to Sligo and a win for Waterford FC at Ballybofey would put Dundalk in fourth place and they would have to wait for the FAI Cup result and most importantly play in the new Conference League rather than Europe, a less prestigious competition than the one they have are currently competing in the group stage of.

One point would be enough for third place due to the superior goal difference or if Waterford doesn’t win at Ballybofey.

What you need for Europe

  • Dundalk will still be in the top four.
  • A draw would be enough for third place due to the superior goal difference.
  • Any result will be enough to prevent third place at Waterford from winning at Ballybofey.

FC Waterford

The Blues would secure fourth place with a win at Ballybofey and a potential European place.

However, they could sneak into third place if Dundalk loses to Sligo. A draw would be enough if Sligo couldn’t beat Dundalk by two or more goals and St Patrick’s Athletic couldn’t beat the Bohemians.

What you need for Europe

  • A win would guarantee fourth place.
  • One draw would be enough to beat St. Patrick’s Athletic. Sligo Rovers could overtake them with a two-goal win.
  • If they lose, Sligo Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic could overtake them if they win.

Sligo Rovers

The Bit O’Red are the underdogs who sneak into fourth place when they take on Dundalk at Oriel Park. A close win against Cork City two weeks ago kept them in the mix after stuttering for the past few weeks.

You have to beat Dundalk and hope Waterford lose at Ballybofey.

If Waterford draws, Sligo will need at least two wins against the outgoing champions.

What you need for Europe

  • A win and a loss for Waterford FC.
  • Sligo needs a two-goal win if Waterford FC is tied and possibly more if Waterford is in a high-scoring draw.

St. Patrick’s Athletic

A point at Tallaght Stadium Wednesday night kept St. Patrick’s Athletic hopes for a European place alive and put an end to relegation worries.

Stephen O’Donnell has to monitor a win to sneak into fourth place.

But it is certainly a live opportunity as other results could work in its favor. You need Dundalk to beat Sligo Rovers and Waterford to lose at Ballybofey.

A significant aspect could be that the opponents on Monday, the Bohemians, have little to play to secure second place.

What you need for Europe

  • One win and Waterford FC to lose and Sligo Rovers not to win. The Saints would then finish fourth based on the Goal Difference.

AVOID RELEGATION PLAY-OFF

Three teams are trying to avoid the play-off with Longford Town for a place in the top division in 2021.

For a long time it looked like Finn Harp’s certainties for ninth place, but her resurgence has put a number of teams into the mix.

There were some nervous clubs watching Harps take on Shamrock Rovers last Sunday as a win would have blown the entire race up.

However, that did not happen. Longford will be watching with interest on Monday.

Find harps

Ollie Horgan’s crew only know they have to beat Waterford or they’ll finish ninth.

If Harps scores three points, they’ll need at least one more result to be in the mix with Shelbourne and Derry City.

What you need to avoid the play-off

  • One win and they have to hope Shelbourne or Derry City lose.
  • If Shelbourne draws Finn Harps will have to beat Waterford by three goals.
  • If Derry City were to draw, Harps would have to accept a 10-goal deficit.

Shelbourne

It’s fair to say the pressure on Shels is mounting after a 4-1 surrender to Athlone Town in the FAI Cup. Now that that hangs over them, they face the Premier Division winners, Shamrock Rovers, knowing they have to break their unbeaten record to secure a place in next year’s top division.

A draw or loss for Finn Harps would mean Shels needn’t worry. A draw will likely last that long, provided Harps doesn’t win by three goals. But that’s a big assumption on a night like this. Defeat and all eyes will be on Donegal.

What you need to avoid the play-off

  • A victory.
  • Finn Harps didn’t win. Shelbourne can then afford a loss or a defeat.
  • A draw and the hope that Finn Harps won’t be able to post a three-goal deficit.
  • A tie and Derry City to lose in Cork.

Derry City

The Candystripes were finally allowed to play their postponed game with Shamrock Rovers on Saturday. After Covid-19 cases and close contacts were almost entirely in quarantine until the day before, it was no surprise that it was a limp Derry display.

In fact, if it had been a 3-0 loss to them, it might have been better to accept the defeat as everything they won was a different goal!

It means they need a point against Cork City after playing a game a little over 48 hours ago.

One thing for them is that a goal difference of seven is better than Harps and Shelbourne

But a loss, a win for Finn Harps and a draw for Shelbourne would leave them in the play-off. The men of Declan Devine have the easiest task on paper against relegated Cork.

What you need to avoid the play-off

  • A victory.
  • Finn Harps didn’t win. Derry City can then afford a loss or a defeat.
  • Shelbourne not to be won. Derry City can then afford a loss or a defeat.
  • A tie and rely on their superior goal difference at the expense of Shelbourne and / or Harps, even if they score a tie or win with a low score.

As simple as that. You can watch every game on Monday from 7.30 p.m. on #WATCHLOI.

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