As the current League table stands, Finn Harps sit on top, with North-West rivals Sligo Rovers lying just below them in 2nd. Both teams have had an impressive start to the 2021 season. Sligo Rovers kicked off their season with a draw to Dundalk. They gained their first victory away to Waterford the following week. A successive win followed this weekend, as the Bit O’Red achieved a 1-0 victory to Longford. Finn Harps began the season with a win to Bohs. An impressive 2-1 victory against Dundalk followed. After two successive wins, Harps drew 1-1 with Drogedha this weekend. Both Finn Harps and Sligo Rovers are currently unbeaten and both sit on the table with 7 points.
The 2020 Season
As the 2020 season commenced, both clubs struggled to score in the opening games. Harps had a battle on their hands from the beginning in order to stay in the Premier Division. Despite not getting a single win over the two relegated sides, Cork City and Shelbourne, Harps managed to stay up and avoid the Playoffs by one point. Harps remained in survival mode even during the tail end of last years season, but gained 3 wins in the last 5 games. Harps narrowly escaped relegation, having ended the 2020 season 8th in the table. Sligo Rovers certainly had their struggles during the opening games, with 4 consecutive defeats. The Bit O’ Red turned the tables as the League returned with a run of 5 wins in 7 games. Liam Buckley’s side catapulted up the table , finishing 4th and securing European football. Evidently, both clubs can put up a fight and are equipped to create pressure when needed.
An Impressive Start
Alot of League Of Ireland fans presumed that this season would be another struggle of survival for Finn Harps. Initially it seemed that with two clubs coming up from the First Division, Harps should target winning as many points as they can off Drogheda United and Longford Town in order to steer clear of relegation. However, this was not the case, with the Donegal side kicking off the 2021 season undefeated. Ollie Horgan’s side managed to retain most of their substantial players, such as Mark Mc Ginley, Shane Mac Eleney and Adam Foley. Foley has already racked up 3 goals since the season has begun and appears a dangerous threat. Harps also made the impressive signing of Hamilton’s Tunde Owolabi.
Sligo Rovers entered the 2021 season with uncertainty after a quick and sudden rise from the bottom of the table to landing in the top 4. Liam Buckley retained the majority of his 2020 side, with key players such as Ed Mc Ginty, Niall Morahan and David Cawley remaining for the season. Striker Romeo Parkes also returned to the club with style, having scored 2 goals so far this season. Sligo Rovers were not short of impressive signees, gaining experienced players such as Greg Bolger, Walter Figueira and Robbie Mc Court. One concern for the club was the uncertainty as to where goals would come from this season, with no go-to striker. With Junior and Ronan Coughlan having left the club, the forward line was re-structured with Johnny Kenny, Figueira and Parkes. Although Johnny Kenny seriously impressed in pre-season friendlies with successive goals, he is yet to score for the club this season.
A surprising start to the 2021 season
Going by last season’s table, many League of Ireland supporters were expecting clubs such as Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians to kick off the season sitting comfortably on the top of the table. However, Dundalk is yet to manage a win. A draw to Sligo Rovers and losses to Harps and Shamrock Rovers leave the Lilywhites sitting in 8th. Shamrock Rovers commenced their season with a draw to St Pats and gained their first win this weekend to Dundalk. Shamrock Rovers currently sit 5th, under both North-West sides. Bohs too are hunting for their first victory this season, currently sitting 9th in the table. The Gypsies suffered two losses to Harps and St Pats, with a draw to Longford. Certainly this comes as a surpirse to many, as both Bohs and Dundalk still scour for their first win.
Although it is only early days, both North-West sides have kicked off the season undefeated and look threatening going ahead. Finn Harps host Waterford next weekend, as Sligo Rovers take on 2020 Champions Shamrock Rovers. Both sides will battle each other for points on the 17th April as Finn Harps travel to the Showgrounds. Is this simply a lucky honeymoon period of early days for the North-West clubs, or will both sides manage to retain positions in the upper end of the table? Let us know by leaving a comment below…