Rob Lyons discusses the ins and outs of the Premier Division clashes happening this weekend.
After two weeks of action, it is surprisingly Bohemians who once again reside at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table.
It’s early days, but Bohs boss Keith Long will take confidence from the fact his side have started off in such fine form. This week has also seen some good news as regards the future of Bohs’ home in Dalymount, with reports suggesting the famous old ground is set to host both Bohs and north Dublin rivals Shelbourne, following a proposed renovation through the help of Dublin City Council.
Shamrock Rovers, Drogheda United and Dundalk join the Phibsborough club on six points, while Cork City and St. Patrick’s Athletic lag behind on four and three points respectively.
Life in the Premier Division has been tough so far for newly-promoted sides, Longford Town and Galway United, with both clubs having lost their opening two games.
Limerick and Bray prop up the table with equally bad starts, something they will hope to remedy as the third week of League of Ireland action starts in motion tonight.
With all that said, upsets could be on the cards this this weekend as competition for an early advantage continues.
Friday, March 20th
Dundalk vs St. Patrick’s Athletic (kick-off 7:45pm)
With Cork City travelling to Shamrock Rovers also, tonight already presents us with an early-season showcase of where the league’s top sides are at, as Dundalk host St. Pat’s in their second competitive meeting of the year, having already battled for the President’s Cup title.
Winning that honour will have given Dundalk a boost but they have since only just scraped through their opening league encounters with 1-0 wins against both Longford Town and Derry. The Lilywhites will hope to lay down a marker for challengers like Liam Buckley’s Saints in order to assert authority early on.
St. Pat’s recorded their opening victory of the season, beating Bray Wanderers 3-0 last Friday. This is one of the weekend’s most eye-catching games with two talented, and neat passing sides squaring up to one another. It will be another squeeze for Stephen Kenny’s men, but they should just have too much.
Dundalk 1-0 St. Patrick’s Athletic
Galway United vs Drogheda United (kick-off 7:45pm)
Tommy Dunne’s Galway United return to Eamonn Deacy Park again with their tails firmly between their legs having been seen off by both Derry and Bohemians in the opening two weeks.
They face a Drogheda side who will be high in confidence following their 3-2 comeback win against Sligo Rovers last time out.
We’re only two games in but this match has a lot more riding on it for Galway than it does for the Drogs. Putting some points on the board is now imperative for Galway, albeit if they’re still getting accustomed to life in the top tier. Expect a resilient Galway side to show up, however a win may be a stretch too far.
Galway United 1-1 Drogheda United
Shamrock Rovers vs Cork City (kick-off 8pm)
This game has all the ingredients to be the fixture to watch this weekend. Colin Healy, Liam Miller, Alan Bennett, Keith Fahey and Stephen McPhail have all represented their country in the past and will likely feature against each other tonight, making for a fantastic match-up.
Add to this that Shamrock Rovers will be out for revenge following last year’s three league defeats to the Leesiders, and tonight is set to be a fascinating game.
Pat Fenlon will be more than happy with how his side have performed thus far but will be wary of the threat of Cork City, who add to the Hoops’ tough opening games.
Cork City will travel to Tallaght knowing a win is achievable and will take major comfort from the amount of goals, as well as goalscoring chances they created against Limerick in their 5-0 win on Friday last.
Shamrock Rovers 2-2 Cork City
Saturday, March 21st
Bray Wanderers vs Bohemians (kick-off 5:45pm)
It’s been a disastrous opening to the season so far for the hosts, who have yet to score and find themselves second from bottom, on goal difference.
Bohemians are very nearly the antithesis of Bray at the moment, with a spot at the top of the table deserved after another victory last weekend against Galway United.
Bohs will need to be in form again at the Carlisle Grounds, as a reaction will be expected from the Seagulls. It is difficult to envision Bray shutting out the Phibsborough outfit for the entire game, however. Bohs look set to continue their 100% record.
Bray Wanderers 1-3 Bohemians
Limerick vs Longford Town (kick-off 6:30pm)
Something must give at Jackman Park this weekend as two sides without a point to show for their efforts clash.
Sympathy will go the way of Longford, who are still adjusting to life in the Premier Division while the signs have been ominous for the Shannonsiders, shipping eleven goals in their last three ties, including an EA Sports Cup defeat to Cobh Ramblers.
The re-signing of Jason Hughes this week – Limerick’s Young Player of the Year last year – may help matters if selected, but the midfield man will be hopeful his side’s defenders can improve quickly on what has been a torrid beginning to the year.
Longford have put it up to both Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk, losing narrowly on both occasions, so it may not be beyond possibility to see a scalp from Tony Cousins’ side tomorrow night.
Limerick 1-2 Longford Town
Sligo Rovers vs Derry City (kick-off 7:45pm)
Having been drawn against each other this week in the EA Sports Cup, this game provides an opportunity to not only grab three points but also suss each other out ahead of that tie.
Derry may have to contend with a Bit O’ Red backlash after Owen Heary’s men were overturned by Drogheda in their previous league game.
While Peter Hutton’s men may ponder what could have been last weekend, as a single Dane Massey goal handed the champions Dundalk victory over the Candystripes.
Confidence will be taken from how far they were able to push the Lilywhites but travelling to the Showgrounds will be no easy task. Sligo to record their first win of the season.
Sligo Rovers 2-0 Derry City
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena
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