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Monday 1 May 2017

Top two ready to pull away

St Pat's boss says Cork and Dundalk way ahead

St Patrick's Athletic manager Liam Buckley
St Patrick's Athletic manager Liam Buckley

Liam Buckley fears that the Premier Division this season is already in danger of being a two-horse race.

It was a grim weekend for the clubs from the capital as, for the second time this season, all three Dublin teams lost on the same weekend: St Patrick's Athletic going down 2-0 at home to a manager-less Limerick; Bohemians also losing 2-0 to a side without a manager, Sligo Rovers; and Shamrock Rovers were undone away to Drogheda United where the Co Louth club ended a miserable five-game losing streak.

It was a run of another kind - the winning sort - which sent out a message from Cork City, John Caulfield's men making it eight wins from eight games with their 3-0 dismissal of Derry City, and with their next league games against Bohs and St Pats, two teams who have leaked goals this term, Cork will look to pile on the misery and make it 10 wins from 10.

Derry could draw level on points with second-placed Dundalk if they they can win their two back matches and Bray Wanderers, up to third, are also in the mix. But while getting out of the bottom three is the main goal for St Pat's, their manager Buckley concedes that Cork and Dundalk could go adrift.

"I think the top two are more equipped to hold their own this year, with the squads and the budgets they have," said Buckley.

"Bar Dundalk and Cork there seems to be very little between the rest.

"Derry will get better as the season goes on, we will get better, but it will be touch and go for everybody. It will be a tough league, there are no easy matches and you are going to have to dig out results, as Drogheda did against Rovers last week," added Buckley, disappointed with that loss at home to Limerick, where a penalty save from ex-Saint Brendan Clarke was a turning point.

Boyhood Pat's fan Clarke, whose family (including his young son) are all die-hard Saints supporters, says there were no torn loyalties, even though the win for his Limerick side saw Pat's drop back into the relegation zone.

"The family won't be talking to me for a while after that but I have a job to do," Clarke told The Herald. "I will have enough time to come down and watch Pat's as a fan when my career's over but for now my job is to do well for Limerick.

"I had played against Pat's before, with Sligo and Sporting Fingal, so I am used to it. It's still strange to be there as an away player but it's my job."

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