Previews for the four matches tonight in the Airtricity League Premier Division.
Dundalk v Cork City
Dundalk will be looking to maintain their impressive start to the season as they entertain Cork City at Oriel Park, kick-off 7:35pm.
The Lilywhites will be without Chris Shields, who has suffered a recurrence of a knee problem which has been affecting him since pre-season, while Peter Cherrie has recovered from a rib injury which hampered him during last week’s victory.
Kurtis Byrne is also fit again following a thigh strain which forced him to sit out the win last week at Dalymount. Eoghan Osborne is rated as doubtful with a leg problem.
Tiarnan Mulvenna is in line for another start after an impressive showing last week and Darren Meenan and John Mountney are both pushing for a starting place as top scorer John Dillon is absent through suspension.
Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny said: “It was a great win in Dalymount (beating Bohemians 2-0 last Friday). We really played well and got the result we deserve. It’s another win away and another good performance to go with it. We have played just as well at home as we have away but the results haven’t matched that. It will come sooner rather than later and hopefully on Friday night.
“It’s going to be a tough game. Cork City have some wonderful players and are playing very well. We will be ready for the game. We will be fully focused on our own game and that’s what we have to do. We want to get that home win. The game being on television makes no difference to us. It gives us a chance to showcase ourselves on camera but we will make sure we’re ready to go.”
Colin Healy is likely to miss out for Cork, while defender Dan Murray will also be absent. Manager Tommy Dunne also confirmed that the groin injury suffered by Kevin Murray is more serious than was originally feared, but he is hopeful that the captain will be available in the next week or so.
Dunne said: “It will be a difficult game. There has not been much in it in any game we have played, and I don’t see this being any different. We are looking to try and get the three points and get more points on the board.
“We will try to play properly and if we are in a winning position, we will try and eradicate the mistakes and get over the line. If we find ourselves in that position, we need to be confident, not panic and try to get the win under our belts. We will be positive in our approach and do what we can to get the result.”
Bohemians v Bray Wanderers
Bohemians will be looking to bounce back from last week’s defeat when they take on Bray Wanderers at Dalymount Park, kick-off 7:45pm.
The Gypsies were well-beaten at home last Friday night by Dundalk and will be looking for a win over fellow strugglers Bray to move clear of the relegation zone.
But in last Friday’s was a “poor performance”, according to manager Aaron Callaghan: “Dundalk were more efficient and they worked harder – and that was particularly disappointing to me.
“Maybe the players were a bit affected by having that game just three days after the trip to Limerick,” added Callaghan.
“The schedule is dictated to us without consultation and now we have another three-day break before the rescheduled match against Pat's.”
Having missed Dave Mulcahy last Friday, due to late withdrawal through illness, Bohemians may have to plan without the experienced midfielder again.
Dave Scully and Darragh Reynor (both illness) are also unlikely to be fit for selection, while Stephen Traynor is recovering from a medical procedure. Captain Owen Heary (ankle) also remains sidelined, as he has been for over a month.
“We haven’t given the fans a lot to shout about, especially at home. If we don’t put in a shift we can’t call on the fans as a 12th man,” said Callaghan.
“I am a realist. We have to improve the results and if the system needs tweaking, that’s my responsibility.”
For Bray, defender Shane O'Conner and midfielder Kevin O'Connor will both have fitness tests ahead of the game.
Eoin Hyland and Shane O'Neill both return to the squad and Adam Cox is added to the squad as cover.
Bray boss Pat Devlin said: "It's always tough going to Dalymount but if we can create chances once again, I just hope the pattern changes and we can convert them."
St Patrick’s Athletic v Derry City
Second placed Derry City travel to Dublin to take on third in the table, St Patrick’s Athletic, in tonight’s clash at Richmond Park, kick-off 7:45pm.
Having defeated league champions Sligo Rovers last week, the Saints now face reigning FAI Cup champions Derry who are unbeaten in their last eight league games.
Saints boss Liam Buckley has a full squad to choose from as goalkeeper Brendan Clarke has recovered from a knee injury and is available for selection.
Buckley said: “Friday is going to be a great game of football, a real top of the table clash. Derry are a top group who like to get the ball down and pass it, while we’re a top group too, so it really should make for an entertaining game.
“Barring the injuries to several of their squad last year, they would have finished much higher up the league as well. It’ll no doubt be a tough game as they’re on a good run of form at the moment, but even so, it’s one that we’re all really looking forward to and hopefully we can go out and win it.”
Derry will be without the services of Stewart Greacen, Kevin Deery, Sean Houston and Paddy Kavanagh, while Shane McEleney returns from suspension.
Speaking ahead of the game, City boss Declan Devine said: "We are all really looking forward to this game as we know it will be a great test of our character and we will be able to judge how far we have come since the start of the season.
“I have been down to watch St Pat’s a number of times over the last couple of weeks and I feel that Liam has put together a great squad and the additions of both Killian Brennan and Conan Byrne have added to their attacking options.
“I have no doubt that tomorrow’s game will be a very exciting and entertaining game of football and one that could go either way. Both teams will be full of confidence after recent results, but I know our lads will be up for it and hopefully we can keep our good run of form going."
UCD v Shamrock Rovers
UCD will be looking for their first win of the league campaign as they entertain Shamrock Rovers the UCD Bowl, kick-off 7:45pm.
The Students are stuck to the bottom of the table with one point, but sit only a point behind second-from-bottom Shelbourne and three behind Bray Wanderers.
Defender Mick Leahy remains out injured for the Students but otherwise, manager Martin Russell has a full squad to choose from.
Russell said: “Rovers will have ambitions of winning back the title and on the back of their recent Setanta Cup success they will be looking to climb the table.
“We will take solace from our performance against Drogheda last Friday night and will regroup and attack this challenge knowing we have the talent and hunger to be successful."
Shamrock Rovers have a number of injury concerns going into the game. Conor Powell (ankle), Jason McGuinness (hamstring), Ken Oman (ankle) and Mark Quigley (hamstring) are all out through injury, while there are doubts over Ciaran Kilduff who picked up a knock in Monday night’s game. Pat Sullivan is suspended having reached four yellow cards.
Hoops boss, Trevor Croly said: “It was a great result for us on Monday night in Cork and we’re delighted to have made it to the final of the Setanta Sports Cup. It is a great boost for us to be in a final so early and to have made it there by showing such character and persistence, as the players did on Monday night, is very positive for us.
“We’ll be in good form going into the UCD game this weekend. But we are also realistic; we know UCD can be a tricky place to go. They always have young, hungry players and that can be hard to play against. But it is important that we get back on track in the league and we’ll be looking to do that on Friday night.”
Live television coverage of Dundalk v Cork City from 19:30 on Friday 26 April on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide excluding GB & NI). Highlights and analysis of all the weekend’s action on MNS from 7pm on Monday 29 April on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).