FRIDAY 11 MARCH
Bohemians v Sligo Rovers, 7.45pm
Bohemians and their visitors Sligo Rovers both suffered opening-day defeats in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division and will be eager to get off the mark at Dalymount Park.
Second-half defensive errors saw the Gypsies succumb to a 2-0 loss away to Cork City last Friday but manager Keith Long is taking the positives from that game and believes that his side can put things right against the Bit O’Red.
"We went down with a game-plan that worked to a point,” Long said. "We had been good defensively and played a lot of the game in Cork's half. There wasn't a lot in it, but we were slow coming out in the second half and it was a bad first goal to concede - a basic error.
"With so many new players having signed from England, Sligo are something of an unknown quantity this season. We went to watch them on Saturday and were somewhat unlucky to lose by two goals having had two players sent off.”
The Gypsies have no injury concerns going into the game with Roberto Lopes, who serves a one-match ban after being sent off against Cork, the only absentee.
Kieran Sadlier and Craig Roddan were the two players sent-off during Sligo’s 2-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers and both will be suspended for the trip to Dublin.
Sligo boss Dave Robertson feels his squad won’t have any issues with coping with their absence.
“We have other players waiting to come in," he said. "It gives an opportunity now for the squad to be used. Bohs are in a similar situation with Roberto Lopes being suspended so it’s the same for both teams.
“I definitely think that if we can put in a similar performance to Shamrock Rovers then we can win the game. There was lots of positives in that performance and there has been a lot of things that we have taken from it.
"We move forward now from it and the players have bounced back with a tremendous attitude in training all week. We have a clear focus now on our next game.
"I have seen Bohs twice, against Drogheda in a friendly and against Cork on TV last week. They are a very hard-working side and they build things around that work rate. So it will be important that we match that.”
Derry City v Cork City, 7.45pm
Fresh from a stinging defeat to local rivals Finn Harps, Derry City welcome title hopefuls Cork City to the Brandywell.
The Candystripes went down 2-1 to Harps on the opening day and midfilder Barry McNamee is targeting a result against Cork as his side look to crush early talk of another relegation battle.
"We've no choice but to regroup, we're back in again to get ready for the game against Cork next weekend," McNamee told goal.com. "It's important to get off to a winning start or it's going to be a very long season again."
Cork meanwhile will have their eyes on another three points after victory over Bohemians but City boss John Caulfield said he expects a reaction from the Candystripes.
"The fact that they lost last week means we are expecting them to come out and have a right cut off us. It’s their first home game and they will be hoping to have a big crowd; Derry are like ourselves, it’s always a good venue to play in and they’re passionate people, so we are looking forward to that."
Nevertheless Caulfield is happy with how his side is shaping up. "There’s a lot of work still do, but overall you would have to be pleased with the way the first two weeks have gone," he said. "The lads have been phenomenal so far, they have a really fantastic attitude but there is still a good bit of work to do."
On the injury front, John Kavanagh remains sidelined, while Garry Buckley is ruled out with a knee injury but Caulfield hopes to have him back in the squad next week.
Dundalk v Finn Harps, 7.45pm
Fresh from a convincing win over Bray Wanderers, the league champions welcome newly promoted Finn Harps to Oriel Park for their first home game of the season.
Stephen Kenny’s side cruised to a 3-1 victory over the Seagulls and while the manager was full of praise for his side, he expects a testing encounter against a Harps side that put Derry to the sword last week.
”Last weekend we put in a brilliant performance against Bray Wanderers, he said. “I’d consider it one of our best performance in recent seasons in what was difficult conditions. It was a very convincing win on the night and we have to take it into this weekend.
”Finn Harps had a very good win themselves against Derry City last weekend and they are on a high but we are at home. We want to start off the season at home with a win. We are motivated and want to start with a strong performance.”
Dundalk have no suspension worries while John Mountney is the only injury doubt for the visit of Harps however he is likely to make the squad.
For Harps boss Ollie Horgan, it’s a case of not getting carried away with an opening day victory over their local rivals.
“It was a great result last Friday, but came at a cost with a number of injuries to some key players,” said Horgan as he reflected on the game.
“Our workrate was pleasing but we ran our luck a little especially at start of the game but overall I was delighted with how we did and of course getting the result.”
Barry Molloy and Sean Houston both left the field injured during last that derby victory and join the already injured duo of Josh Mailey and Michael Rafter on the sidelines.
Packie Mailey is a doubt and faces a late fitness test.
Galway United v Bray Wanderers, 7.45pm
Galway caused the biggest upset of the opening weekend with a 3-1 victory away to St Patrick's Athletic and they'll be eager to make it two wins from two when they welcome Bray Wanderers to Eamonn Deacy Park.
Manager Tommy Dunne is aiming to improve on his side's home form this season and to that end, he has called on Galway supporters to play their part.
"It's vitally important that we improve our home form because it wasn't good enough last year," he said. "The players must realise that there is an added pressure at home, there is an expectancy to perform in front of own supporters and that's something that they're getting used to.
"I'm hoping to see a big crowd at Eamonn Deacy Park to push the players on. We've got to use the crowd like we did last week. They really spurred us on at Richmond Park, especially when we went behind."
Dunne will be without the services of Armin Aganovic [knee] and Marc Ludden [foot], while Alex Byrne [groin] is taking part in full training but he won't be risked.
It was Bray's misfortune to start the new season against the champions Dundalk last week. They were outplayed in a 3-1 loss, and will be without Curtis Murphy this weekend after he saw red on a frustrating night. It should otherwise be an unchanged Seagulls line-up.
Longford Town v St Patrick’s Athletic, 8.0pm
After their surprise 3-1 defeat to Galway United last time out, St Pat's manager Liam Buckley is expecting another testing encounter.
"Longford on Friday will be a tough game for us as they got a good result last week against Wexford," he said.
"Tony Cousins has improved his squad on last year and still has many of his key players there so we know it'll be a tough game. Last week was disappointing for everyone, so we'll be looking to get our performance levels right and if we do that, we've a chance of coming away with the points."
Buckley is without the injured quartet of Conor O'Malley, Jamie McGrath, Lee Desmond and Jack Bayly for the trip to the Midlands.
Kevin O’Connor and Josh O’Hanlon ensured Longford got out of the blocks quickly, scoring the goals to sink Wexford Youths. They'll hope to keep momentum going against the Saints and would revel in deeping Fenlon's anguish.
Shamrock Rovers v Wexford Youths, 8.0pm
Shamrock Rovers welcome Wexford Youths to Tallaght for their first home game of the season and fresh from a 2-0 victory over Sligo Rovers.
The Hoops were the beneficiaries of an ill-disciplined Sligo side, who had two players sent off, but manager Pat Fenlon is happy with how his squad is looking.
"We made enforced changes to the side last week with Gavin Brennan going in at left back and he did really well there," he said. "It shows the competition we have for places and that is great to see.
"Whilst there hasn’t been a huge turnaround in our squad from last season we have strengthened in the core areas and we are improving the players that we have. We have seen these improvements in pre-season and tomorrow the Rovers fans will see for themselves."
Stephen McPhail and Luke Byrne remain side-lined with injury. Both expected to be fit for the next home game
Newly promoted Wexford were on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline against Longford, despite some impressive spells and manager Shane Keegan is taking the positives from that game as his side travel to Tallaght.
"It was a very strange game last weekend," Keegan said. "As a team we played really well and dominated the game but unfortunately the key moments of the game went against us. But the lads have come away from it with a confidence that we're not far off where we need to be.
"With a few small improvements and a bit of luck going our way I think we can start to pick up points, hopefully starting with the Rovers game."
The Youths will again be without Peter Higgins, Shane Dunne and Aidan Keenan who all remain out with medium term injuries.