Rob Lyons previews the key games taking place at the top and bottom of the Premier Division this weekend, as we head into match day seven.
With the midweek EA Sports Cup second round games now decided, attentions turn back to league action once more.
Results last weekend at both ends of the table were unprecedented with Dundalk being held by Limerick in Jackman Park as well as Sligo sliding further down their slippery slope, through a defeat at the hands of Bray.
The Bit O’ Red’s performance last Monday in the EA Sports Cup didn’t help either. Having held Derry scoreless until full-time, they were outdone by Seamus Sharkey and Mark Timlin goals, which helped the Candystripes finish up 2-0 winners after extra time.
Dundalk drawing means that Shamrock Rovers and Cork City are now just two points off the Lilywhites going into this weekend’s round of fixtures.
The Hoops and Cork City both recorded comprehensive 3-0 wins over their opponents last Friday so they will be confident heading into their respective fixtures this weekend.
The table could change dramatically, depending on this Friday and Saturday night’s results, with major clashes at the top and bottom happening around the country.
Friday, April 10th
Bohemians vs Longford Town (kick-off 7:45pm)
Bohemians will certainly have the psychological advantage coming into this game, having dismissed Longford in the second round of the EA Sports Cup during the week, with a 3-1 victory.
Just three points adrift of leaders Dundalk and one point off Cork City and Shamrock Rovers, Bohs’ great start to the season shows no signs of abating.
Despite Longford going ahead in the midweek cup game, and the fact that they will be out for revenge, Bohs should have too much for Tony Cousins’ men at home.
Bohemians 2-0 Longford Town
Derry City vs Shamrock Rovers (kick-off 7:45pm)
Derry were comprehensively beaten by Cork City in Turner’s Cross last time out in the league whilst Shamrock Rovers beat Tommy Dunne’s Galway United in Tallaght.
The Candystripes approach this game, having had to play an extra half an hour of football in their EA Sports Cup game with a struggling Sligo Rovers, who they managed to get past with two goals in extra-time.
This shouldn’t affect fatigue too much however, having had four days to recover. Meanwhile, Shamrock Rovers beat league new boys Cabinteely in their second round clash.
With Rovers having returned to winning ways following two 0-0 draws in a row last week, this writer expects Pat Fenlon’s men to continue this upward trajectory. They will struggle to score three again this weekend however.
Shamrock Rovers 2-1 Derry City
Dundalk vs Drogheda United (kick-off 7:45pm)
If the Louth derby taught us anything last season it’s that this fixture is anything but predictable. A 4-1 victory for Drogs in the opening game of the 2014 campaign, followed by Dundalk dismantling their Louth neighbours 7-0 at home just exemplifies the unpredictability of this game.
The Lilywhites will certainly be the favourites however, having already beaten Johnny McDonnell’s men in the Jim Malone Cup in pre-season as well as the fact they are leading the way at the top of the table.
Dundalk are the league’s most ruthless side and once they smell blood there is invariably no stopping them.
This year Drogheda look to be a mid table club but as seen last season, with two massive victories for either side, as well as a draw in between, this game is one of the more difficult derbies to predict, however it is difficult to look past Dundalk’s performances so far this year as a sign of the direction the three points are headed.
Dundalk 3-1 Drogheda United
Galway United vs Sligo Rovers (kick-off 7:45pm)
Sligo’s poor performances in the first couple of weeks may have been excused by new players bedding into the squad and a new manager’s philosophy being implemented but those early factors have now gone past their sell-by date.
What was at first a concern has now become a crisis, and Sligo’s loss to Derry in the EA Sports Cup during the week has only increased pressure at the Showgrounds.
Owen Heary has proved he has the credentials to become a top manager, and patience should prevail at The Showgrounds, but a result is needed quickly.
Galway have already illustrated this season they’re far from impenetrable at the back. Yet again this weekend provides the Bit O’ Red with a great chance of recording a victory. They simply must take it. Whether they will or not is a different matter.
Galway United 1-1 Sligo Rovers
St. Patrick’s Athletic vs Cork City (kick-off 7:45pm)
Every game between these sides last year was closely fought, with both teams coming out on top at home, whilst the first game of the season ended in a draw.
Cork City’s home form this year has been nothing short of outstanding, scoring ten goals and keeping three clean sheets. Add to this that it has now been six games since the Leesiders have conceded a goal, which was against Sligo on the first day of the season, and Pat’s may find it difficult to break down John Caulfield’s side.
The Saints for their part have been formidable at home in their two games in Richmond Park. They also showed a considerable amount of character to come back from 2-0 down away to Longford to earn a draw in their last league game.
Both of these clubs will know they are capable of going on to win the title this year, so expect it be a fiery game in Inchicore. A draw here is likely.
Saturday, April 11th
Bray Wanderers vs Limerick (kick-off 5:45pm)
Bray won their first game of the season last weekend under the caretaker management of Maciej Tarnogrodzki and now have something to build on after what had been a largely negative, and equally turbulent opening to their campaign.
Although Limerick are positioned at the wrong end of the table, along with the Seagulls, having denied Dundalk from extending their 100% record to six games will give Martin Russell’s young side a boost before they head to Wicklow.
This is the sort of game both sides will have targeted as key match in gaining an upper hand in the lower reaches of the table, and for this reason, expect goals as both sides vie for the win.
Bray Wanderers 2-3 Limerick
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena
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