Dublin Derby Could Blow Title Race Open
One of the tightest league chases yet is starting to come to a thrilling end, but not without a few more guaranteed highlights.
A testament to the title chase and to Bohs boss Pat Fenlon is that if his side can beat St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday night, they will go within three points of defending champions Shamrock Rovers. Granted it is that the Hoops have two games in hand following their Europa League exertions, nevertheless a win for Bohs would blow the league race open even wider.
They entertain a Saints side on good form of late, having gained seven of the last nine points available to them. Saints boss Pete Mahon is hoping to bring a fully fit side to Dalymount, and believes it will be a thankless task to come away with a win. “Tomorrow is a must win game for both teams for different reasons. For us every game from now until the end of the season is must win if we have any hope of finishing top – and even then it may not be enough. Bohs have to win for different reasons and we’re aware that they’re trying to catch us and win a European spot for themselves.”
Liam Burns is the only injury threat for the Gypsies as they aim to secure their first win against St Pats this season. The Saints have taken five points from three encounters with Bohemians.
Shamrock Rovers return to league action against Drogheda United after a wonderful display against Tottenham Hotspur which will rest in the mind of their fans forever. The Hoops have a big squad to choose from and they look set to rotate the pack again. The retention of the league title is the most important thing for the Hoops fans, and the European adventures are a welcome bonus. Manager Michael O’Neill will be hoping that his players can switch their focus back and forth between both competitions in order to achieve their aims. There is no team news as of yet as the Tallaght side will look to evaluate their options ahead of Sunday`s game.
Elsewhere other league contenders are in action, with Derry hosting Bray Wanderers in the Brandywell. Barry Molloy and Shane McEleney are both set to miss out, although Daniel Lafferty will be once again available after missing the EA Sports Cup success against Cork City. Candystripes manager Stephen Kenny is relishing the pressure towards the end of the season. “It’s been said that the title race is between Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers – and that is fine by us. We have a tough run-in but everything is still in our own hands.”
League leaders Sligo Rovers welcome Galway United to the Showgrounds in a must win game for the Bit o’Red. Galway are on a hopeless losing streak and at this stage of the day Sligo can’t afford to muck up. Paul Cook has ruled Eoin Doyle and Jason Mc Guinness out of the game, and he knows Galway will be up for the game against their rivals from the west. “We know Galway will try to stop us and they come here with nothing to lose. The pleasing thing for me is that in our last two games we have been very professional, recorded wins and put in the level of performance we needed. That is what we’ll be aiming for this week.”
UCD host Dundalk in a game which has no bearing on either end of the table. Both managers will probably look to have a strong end to the season, in tandem with giving fringe players and youth a chance to blossom. Ian Foster echoed his calls this week to not let the season peter out, and will hope for a professional performance from his side which so much was expected of.
Bohemians V. St Patrick’s Athletic
Derry City V. Bray Wanderers
UCD V. Dundalk
Sligo Rovers V. Galway United
Shamrock Rovers V. Drogheda