Here we preview all of the Premier Division action this weekend, including the Munster derby between the struggling Shannonsiders and title chasers Cork City.
This weekend sees six games evenly dispersed amongst Friday and Saturday night, with leaders Dundalk and third-placed Shamrock Rovers playing separate matches on Friday whilst second-placed Cork City and fifth-placed St. Pat’s play their respective games on Saturday.
Continuing in a familiar pattern, Dundalk still remain impenetrable after twelve games, beating Longford 2-0 last weekend. Positive results for Cork City and Bohemians mean there is also still a core group of heel snappers not far behind the Lilywhites.
Last weekend’s results mean that at the other end of the table Sligo Rovers, Bray Wanderers and Limerick all remain firmly within the relegation mire.
Drogheda also find themselves being sucked into the lower reaches of the table, and with all the sides around them having a game in hand, Johnny McDonnell will know Friday night’s game against Sligo is of paramount importance.
A noticeable split between the league’s top five and bottom seven has now formed, with Longford leading the bottom sides. They face a tough task in trying to bridge the gap between them and St. Pat’s as they travel to Tallaght tonight.
Bray Wanderers will want to fight their way free from the threat of relegation as new boss Trevor Croly has his first chance to stamp his authority on this Seagulls squad.
A new managerial appointment, a relegation six-pointer and a Munster derby should make for an entertaining weekend of action.
Friday, May 15th
Dundalk vs Derry City (kick-off 7:45pm)
Stephen Kenny welcomes his old club to Oriel Park for the first time this season with the Lilywhites striving for their fifth victory in a row and their eleventh win this season.
Derry City, on the other hand, have picked up just one point in their last three fixtures, making a Lilywhite victory the more probable result.
This thought process is only enhanced when looking at goals scored vs goal conceded. This match-up pits the league’s best defence against Derry’s strike force, which is the worst in the league, managing just nine goals so far this term.
Peter Hutton does runs a tight ship at the back, but expect the hull to be breached tonight.
Dundalk 3-0 Derry City
Galway United vs Bohemians (kick-off 7:45pm)
The Tribesmen host Keith Long’s Bohs in a game which provides the men from Phibsborough with the opportunity to overtake Shamrock Rovers following their draw on Monday night in a rescheduled fixture with St. Pat’s.
Tommy Dunne’s men provide an unpredictable opposition tonight. Galway’s performances so far have often been all or nothing. They are the only side that have not yet drawn a game, instead losing eight and winning four, which puts them in eight place.
If tonight’s game is to follow the same pattern as their last five games, Bohs should come out on top. The Tribesmen’s form in their last four matches reads: WLWLW.
Bohs’ home form and Galway’s lack of consistency points to a win for Long’s men.
Galway United 1-2 Bohemians
Shamrock Rovers vs Longford Town (kick-off 8pm)
Rovers’ draw with St. Pat’s last Monday won’t be the biggest concern for Pat Fenlon but what is a worry is that it provides the opportunity for Bohemians and Cork City to steal a march on them.
Even if they win tonight they cannot catch the Leesiders, who have played a game more than the Hoops.
Longford are still exceeding the expectations imposed upon them at the beginning of the season, and although victory here may be a stretch too far, the Town are building up experience as well as belief as each week passes.
Rovers have conceded just two goals in six games at home all season however, and this impressive rearguard should be able to fend off Longford. If they can do this, the Hoops should come out with the three points.
Shamrock Rovers 1-0 Longford Town
Saturday, May 16th
Bray Wanderers vs St. Patrick’s Athletic (kick-off 5:45pm)
There is only one place to begin when analysing this game and that is with Trevor Croly. The ex-Shamrock Rovers manager will be in the spotlight as he aims to turn around a largely horrid season at the seaside outfit.
Croly is the sixth manager to take charge of the club since 2012, including caretaker manager Maciej Tarnogrodzki. After what many deemed as an unsuccessful spell at Rovers, Croly – who has penned a three-year deal – now has something to prove, as do his new team.
St. Pat’s should be anticipating a reaction with a new manager coming in usually making for a renewed effort from all involved.
This said, Pat’s have some making up to do after their scoreless draw with Croly’s old club last time out.
Bray Wanderers 1-3 St. Patrick’s Athletic
Limerick vs Cork City (kick-off 6:30pm)
With the club’s move to Markets Field now almost within touching distance, the Munster derby becomes one of the final few games to be played at Jackman Park this season.
Despite holding high-flyers Bohs until the 84th minute on Friday last, Limerick are still in as perilous a situation as ever after Jason Byrne broke the Shannonsiders’ hearts.
Cork City meanwhile escaped from a tough weekend with matches on Friday and Monday against Sligo and Drogheda respectively.
The 4-1 scoreline on Monday may indicate an easy ride, but both contests will have taken it out of John Caulfield’s men.
The Leesiders won’t be prematurely expecting an easy clash in Limerick but they should win comfortably if their stars shine.
Limerick 1-3 Cork City
Sligo Rovers vs Drogheda United (kick-off 7:45pm)
Another massive clash in deciding matters near the bottom of the table comes in the form of Sligo at home to Drogheda United.
The Bit O’ Red put in a fighting display last time out at Turner’s Cross and were in truth unlucky to go down to a late Mark O’Sullivan strike.
Drogheda’s last opponents were also ironically Cork City on Monday night. Drogs found themselves on the end of a 4-1 beating, despite putting it up to the Leesiders for large periods.
The Bit O’ Red have a game in hand on their upcoming opponents and could potentially go level on points with the Louth men, should they pull off a result in the Showgrounds.
With a lot on the line, it looks like it will be a close game.
Sligo Rovers 1-1 Drogheda United
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena.