The EA Sports Cup final between Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers (along with the small matter of the All-Ireland final) may take centre stage this weekend but there are also four crucial SSE Airtricity League Premier Division matches to look forward to.
(All kick-offs are 7:45pm unless specified)
Bray Wanderers v Limerick
Just how does Bray Wanderers manager Harry Kenny manage to keep a brave face? Match-fixing allegations following last week’s 5-0 friendly defeat to Waterford are just the latest incident in the debacle that has been Bray’s season. You can’t help but feel sorry for Bray’s loyal supporters, who’ve had to put up with such nonsense under the club’s current ownership.
Meanwhile, last week’s win over Galway United means Limerick are set to play in their first FAI Cup semi-final since 1993/94. A cup run should provide a much-needed boost for struggling Limerick, who are just three points above the relegation zone, but there is arguably no better time to face Bray.
Odds: Bray Wanderers 2/1; Draw 5/2; Limerick 13/10
Drogheda United v Bohemians
Speaking of fiascos, you have to go way back to April to find Drogheda United’s last league victory – that’s a whopping 16 games without a win. The cup had provided some respite for Drogheda but after being floored 4-0 by local rivals Dundalk last week, it’s back to the harsh realities of imminent relegation for Pete Mahon’s side and it’s really difficult to see them winning another match in 2017.
Bohemians have been disappointing in recent weeks and have really failed, as many expected, to kick on and push for a top-four finish after impressive away wins at both Shamrock Rovers and Cork City at the end of July. Instead, they are hovering just six points ahead of the relegation zone but you’d fully expect Bohs to get back to winning ways and pick up all three points at United Park on Friday night.
Odds: Drogheda United 16/5; Draw 12/5; Bohemians 10/11
Galway United v Derry City
Elimination from the cup last weekend could go either way for Galway United, who are desperately searching for points as they bid to retain their Premier Division status for the third successive season. Top scorer Ronan Murray has been a revelation since his arrival from Notts County last winter and he’s been named SSE Airtricity / Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Month for August.
It’s both interesting and exciting to hear Kenny Shiels speak about how he expects Derry City to challenge Cork City and Dundalk next season, while also lamenting the fact he’s lost several key players to those exact clubs. Finishing in the top three for the second-year running would be a remarkable achievement by Derry and Shiels, and there’s every chance they will be closer to the big two next term.
Odds: Galway United 13/5; Draw 23/10; Derry City 11/10
Finn Harps v Sligo Rovers (8pm)
Finn Harps just won’t give up even when written off time and time again, as their recent 2-0 win at fellow strugglers Limerick proved, and it’s that never say die attitude that Ollie Horgan has instilled into his playing staff which is the reason Harps have every chance of once again surviving the drop against all odds. He’s got to be a contender for manager of the season should they escape relegation?
It seems a long time ago since Rhys McCabe scored that wonder goal (whether he meant it or not) at Turners Cross as Sligo Rovers defeated champions elect Cork City. However, due to their albeit brief participation in the IRN-BRU Cup, that was, in fact, Sligo’s most recent league match, so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare when making the relatively short trip to Finn Park on Saturday.
Odds: Finn Harps 6/4; Draw 21/10; Sligo Rovers 19/10
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we’re joined by Cork City captain Johnny Dunleavy to discuss the FAI Cup semi-final draw, and look ahead to this weekend’s EA Sports Cup final between Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk.