By Ed Leahy
Recently crowned Setanta Sports Cup champions Shamrock Rovers travel to Richmond Park to take on St Patrick’s Athletic in tonight’s Airtricity League Premier Division encounter, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Hoops will be hoping that their Cup success will kick-start their stuttering league campaign as Trevor Croly's side have only won three league games and currently reside in mid-table obscurity in sixth place, 14 points behind leaders Sligo Rovers.
But things are looking up for Rovers as they fought back against the champions to earn a valuable point in the previous weekend's league campaign before overturning an impressive Dundalk side.
Rovers have doubts over Mark Quigley after he was substituted in Saturday's Cup final. The former Sligo striker is struggling to recover from a hamstring injury.
Lorcan Shannon is another doubt as he recovers from a foot injury, while Conor Powell remains out with an ankle injury, although the full-back has resumed training.
Hoops boss Trevor Croly said: “This is a big game for us and we are very determined to do well in it. We were delighted to win the Setanta Sports Cup final on Saturday, but we were even more delighted with the performance and the convincing nature of the win.
“But the final is over, the cup is in the cabinet and we are now focused on the St Pat’s game and playing as well as we did on Saturday again on Tuesday night. The players enjoyed the win, but all minds are now on what we know will be a tough game in Inchicore.”
Rovers won the previous meeting between the sides this season with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Tallaght Stadium, however, St Pat’s can move to within a point of leaders Sligo Rovers with victory.
Pat’s are unbeaten in their last eight league games and Saints manager Liam Buckley reports that he has a full squad to select from, meaning midfielder Shane McFaul could make his 50th appearance for the club should he play.
Looking ahead to the game, Buckley said: “We’ve already had a fair few Dublin derbies due to the back fixtures being played recently.
"Now five of our next six games are all against Dublin clubs so we know we’ll be playing in front of packed crowds over the next few weeks. There’s always a good atmosphere in these fixtures and lots of passion will be seen so the players know what to expect.”
Matches between Dublin's strongest sides are always entertaining affairs with both sides enjoying bragging rights over recent seasons.
Home advantage will give St Pat's the confidence to overturn the early season defeat, however, Rovers need to make a statement with their league form and should they play the way they played in Saturday's 7-1 demolition of Drogheda, they should nick this one, but only just.
Verdict: Shamrock Rovers
Limerick v Drogheda
Limerick entertain Drogheda United at Thomond Park tonight knowing that victory would see them stay in touch with the frontrunners in the Airtricity League Premier Division, kick-off 7.45pm.
Limerick boss Stuart Taylor expects to have a full squad available to pick from as Pat Purcell and Rory Gaffney have returned to training after missing out on the trip to Cork City through injury.
Craig Curran picked up a facial injury in that game but is expected to be available and Dominic Foley has been reacting well to a new course of treatment on the back issue that has hampered his return.
The Limerick boss was in Tallaght Stadium on Saturday to watch tonight's opponents suffer a shocking 7-1 defeat to Shamrock Rovers but Taylor fully expects to see Drogheda United bounce back.
Taylor said: “Finishing second last season, winning the EA Sports Cup and reaching the Setanta Cup Final in the last twelve months; these are all signs of a strong club, and though they had a bad day at the office on Saturday, it doesn’t change the strength they have in Drogheda.
“I fully expect Drogheda to come down to Thomond eager to confirm that strength and I know we’re going to face an extremely tough game.”
The previous meeting between the two sides was a memorable encounter with the Superblues conceding a late penalty to deny them a victory in a game where they played the closing twenty minutes with nine men.
The game saw three red cards, four penalties, three of which were scored and four goals in total as the sides shared the points in Hunky Dorys Park.
Drogheda have a full squad to choose from for tonight's encounter and will be looking to bounce back from their humiliating performance on Saturday.
United boss Mick Cooke said: "Obviously the big thing is to get the lads back now and get their minds focused. We all let ourselves down on Saturday, but there's no better way to bounce back then by putting three points on the board. I know Stuart Taylor was there Saturday, but he didn't get to see the real Drogheda, no-one did.
"It's going to be tough for us as Limerick have had a good rest, having not played since last Monday, but we need to get that ruthless streak back that we had last season.
"It won't be easy, the last time we played each other it was a good game and we'll be hoping for more of the same tomorrow night.
"Stuart Taylor has done a great job down in Limerick but we won't be going down there looking for anything less than a win, it's the only way to bounce back and we have a few tough games coming up so we need to get focused."
And United are certainly capable of bouncing back and finding their league form but tonight's game probably comes a little bit too soon after the trauma of Saturday's cup final still fresh in the memory.
Live television coverage of Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians from 19:00 on Friday 17 May 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 20 May on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).