The involvement of both Bray Wanderers and Sligo Rovers in the IRN-BRU Cup means there are just four matches taking place in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division this weekend.
Friday (all games have a 7:45pm kick-off)
Bohemians vs Galway United
Bohs haven’t really kicked on following those impressive back-to-back away wins over Shamrock Rovers and Cork City at the end of July and are now suddenly looking over their shoulders as they are six points above the relegation drop zone. Their next four matches – Galway United (home), Drogheda United (away), St Patrick’s Athletic (home) and Sligo Rovers (away) – will paint a much clearer picture for Bohs.
Galway manager Shane Keegan didn’t hold back in his criticism of referee Anthony Buttimer last time out in the league against Shamrock Rovers. However, the manner of Keegan’s rant on national television indicates that the pressures of this relegation battle may be starting to get to him.
Odds: Bohemians 13/10; draw 23/10; Galway United 21/10
Prediction: Bohemians 2-1 Galway United
Dundalk vs St. Patrick’s Athletic
Dundalk have been highly efficient if not spectacular by their own standards in recent weeks and they picked up their fifth consecutive win last weekend as they progressed to the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup. They also have the EA Sports Cup final to look forward to and they’ll be looking to use their remaining league fixtures as a tonic to go on and win both cups with second place all but assured.
It’s possible that St Pat’s and Liam Buckley will not have lost too much sleep following their exit from the FAI Cup last weekend as they can switch their full attention to avoiding a first ever relegation in the club’s proud history. Four wins from their last five league outings has put them well on course to avoid the dreaded drop but their chances on Friday really depend on which Dundalk decides to show up.
Odds: Dundalk 1/3; draw 4; St Patrick’s Athletic 8
Prediction: Dundalk 2-0 St. Pat’s
Limerick vs Finn Harps
Limerick ended a wretched run of five league games without a win when they defeated Bohemians at Markets Field a fortnight ago and the Shannonsiders followed that up with another 1-0 victory, this time in the FAI Cup against Friday’s opponents Finn Harps thanks to Rodrigo Tosi’s twelfth goal of the season. However, a different game can be expected this weekend with both teams still fighting the drop.
You have to start worrying about Finn Harps after defeat in their last three league matches was followed by elimination from the FAI Cup last week. However, with all that considered, Ollie Horgan’s side remain just one point adrift from safety despite being universally written off before a ball was even kicked. They need to get back to winning ways either on Friday or against Sligo in their next match to have any chance.
Odds: Limerick 4/5; draw 13/5; Finn Harps 10/3
Prediction: Limerick 1-1 Finn Harps
Shamrock Rovers vs Cork City
Stephen Bradley’s lack of managerial experience has been painfully evident at times this season but he’s handled John Caulfield’s latest comments on Rovers very well. That said, Bradley has been taught many a lesson during his first full season in charge and this is another huge game for Rovers, who are on a fine run of form as they try and catch Derry City in third.
It’s been a surreal kind of year for Cork City in the sense that there seems to be negative energy in the air of late despite the fact that the league has all but been won and they’ve coasted into the FAI Cup quarter-finals. Last week’s 7-0 annihilation of Athlone Town in the cup has come at a good time for Cork who, make no mistake, have enjoyed a remarkable season.
Odds: Shamrock Rovers 2; draw 11/5; Cork City 11/8
Niall Newberry, Pundit Arena
On this week’s episode of The Mixer, we chat to Neale Fenn and look ahead to Ireland’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers.