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The Irish Premier Division does not attract many headlines outside the Emerald Isle but it is the football competition on which punters who like a speculative wager should focus as club football resumes after the international matches.
There are two rounds of the Irish Premier Division season to go and only five of the 12 teams have anything for which to play in the league. The Irish Premier Division title race is down to two sides – Dundalk and Cork – while the relegation fight features three teams – Athlone, Bray and University College Dublin, the latter of which is known as UCD.
It is the Irish Premier Division relegation fight on which it is worth concentrating and, in particular, Saturday’s games featuring bottom-of-the-ladder Athlone, which faces St Patrick’s in Dublin, and second-bottom UCD, which makes the trip across the border into Northern Ireland to play Derry.
Athlone has recovered from its horrific start to its Irish Premier Division campaign to give itself a chance of staying up – it has drawn six of its last eight league matches – but normally one would dismiss its shot of getting anything from its away game against a St Patrick’s side that is undefeated in its last 11 matches across all competitions, winning nine of those games. Also, St Patrick’s has won two and drawn one of its three matches versus Athlone across all competitions this term, including a 4-0 win in the only Dublin clash.
However, Athlone has everything for which to play – it is one Irish Premier Division point behind UCD and six points behind Bray, although it does have a better goal difference than both of its rivals for the drop – and St Patrick’s has nothing for which to get out of first gear. St Patrick’s is guaranteed to finish third in the Irish Premier Division – that is unless there is a remarkable goal difference swing between it and Shamrock Rovers – and the Saints have the small matter of the Irish FAI Cup final around the corner. St Patrick’s has not won the Irish FA Cup since 1961.
Boylesports is offering odds of +950 that Athlone beats St Patrick’s in their Irish Premier Division game at Richmond Park. Those massive odds are worth the small change of any speculative punter. An Athlone win combined with a Bray loss – it is at home to Irish Premier Division title favourite Dundalk – would drag the Wanderers into the relegation dogfight because Athlone will host Bray on the last day.
If one is willing to risk one unit on a speculative Irish Premier Division bet than Athlone is the team to back at odds of +950 . If one is willing to risk two units then there is a case for backing UCD at odds of +900 with William Hill to beat Derry at Brandywell.
Derry will meet St Patrick’s in the Irish FAI Cup final at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on 2 November. Derry has been going through the Irish Premier Division motions for more than a month, channelling all its energy into the Irish FAI Cup because it cannot achieve anything in the league.
UCD has lost each of its last six Irish Premier Division matches but it drew 1-1 at Derry earlier this term and, if the home side does not improve upon its recent performances, an away win at long odds is far from out of the question.
Make no mistake: Saturday’s Irish Premier Division games are huge for Athlone and UCD. The Irish Premier Division fixture is such that both Athlone and UCD will fancy their chance of winning their 33rd and final match and, if Dundalk justifies favouritism against Bray on Saturday, the team in 10th place with two rounds to go could end up as the cellar dweller.
Athlone to beat St Pats
17th October 19:45 GMT
Where to Bet: Boylesports
UCD to beat Derry
17th October 19:45 GMT
Where to Bet: William Hill
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