David Whyms casts an expert eye over the forthcoming tasty fifth week encounters of Three Ireland’s EStars league. After last week’s technical malfunctions, hosts Bohemians face not only their week four bout against St Pat’s, on top of this week’s home defence against a Dundalk side determined to chalk up a win. With some brilliant matches played yesterday and across the weekend, many teams will be counting on securing a win tomorrow at DCU and taking one step closer to the Finals at the 3Arena.
The upcoming leg of Three Ireland’s Estars may well be the most important week of the competition, yet. Each match will be crucial for the teams involved, and it’s likely that there will be multiple close contests this week. There is still a lot to play for at this stage of the competition, so you can bet that the competition for Week 5 will be as intense as ever.
Bray Wanderers (3-1) vs. Sligo Rovers (2-2)
Bray’s domination of Cork was exactly what was required to get their competition back on track. They maintain their status as an elite team in EStars, with very clear playoff aspirations. Their next opponents are Sligo Rovers, who are still facing a battle in proving themselves to the rest of the competition. Their two early losses in the tournament were unprecedented, but a victory here would certainly re-establish them as a strong playoff contender. The winner of this match will likely have some breathing room in the fight for the Top 4, whereas the losing side will still face quite a scrap over the coming weeks.
Dundalk (1-3) vs. Bohemians (2-1)
Dundalk’s EStars woes continue. Their poor start has left them with a near impossible task of qualifying for playoffs, as the team has just not been able to truly find their footing. There’s still time for a miracle run, but it would have to begin against Bohemians this week. Bohs will need to split their focus on this game and their upcoming match against St. Pat’s, which will make this fixture even trickier. Dundalk’s strength in the early game will serve them well here against this Bohs side. This match may be all but decided in the pick/ban phase, as Dundalk seek to upset Bohs structured playstyle.
Shamrock Rovers (3-1) vs. Team Three (4-0)
The competition’s two frontrunners meet this week, aiming to cement themselves as the league’s top team. Shamrock have fully left their Week 1 loss in their rear view mirror, and are now working around a playstyle that no team can seemingly answer. They may meet their kryptonite in Team Three, whose individual play and coordination have allowed them to remain undefeated. Three are the more well-rounded team, finding success with a more fluid style of gameplay. Rovers have become very reliant on their mid and bot lane strength, something that Three will need to work around in their upcoming fixture.
Derry City (0-4) vs. Limerick (0-4)
Two winless teams enter Week 5. One will exit with a check in the win column. Derry City and Limerick have struggled to varying degrees throughout the competition so far, but now is their best opportunity to show their ability. Derry have been able to respectably match most of their prior opponents, and will be entering this game as the favourites. However, Limerick have been slowly building themselves up, week by week. They will hope that their progress is enough to best Derry, as this is likely the best opportunity for them to snatch a win in the competition.
St. Patrick’s (2-1) vs. Cork City (2-2)
St Pat’s have a very tough few weeks in their near future, so winning fixtures like these is imperative to their survival in the competition. They have the opportunity to move to 4-1 after this round, keeping them in the hunt for playoffs. In their path for Week 5 are Cork City, who were on the receiving end of a nasty loss to Bray. This match may be Cork’s last opportunity to prove themselves, because a loss to St. Pat’s would be a dire sign for their hopes of advancing in the competition.