FRIDAY
(All games 7.45pm kick-off)

St Patrick’s Athletic v Cork City
Cork City travel to Richmond Park to face St Patrick’s Athletic hoping to continue their run of good form, with the Saints aiming to make ground on the leaders.

City are second in the table after six games, with four wins and two draws. Their last league outing saw John Caulfield’s side impress as they defeated Derry City 3-0 at Turner’s Cross.

On Monday, they recorded a 2-0 win away to Waterford United in the EA Sports Cup.

Colin Healy, who has missed the last number of games, is again rated as a doubt for the game against St Pat’s, while Josh O’Shea is ruled out with a knock he picked up in Monday’s win.

Michael McSweeney and Liam Kearney are also doubts with knocks picked up in the same game.

Cork boss John Caulfield said he was expecting a tough game.

“They’re a top side, Liam Buckley is a super manager; they’ve won the league, they’ve won the cup and we will really have to be on form up there, because it is a really hard place to go and get a result. They are a really strong, passing team,” Caulfield said.

The Saints will be in good spirits heading into the game off the back of a good 4-1 midweek win in the EA Sports Cup against Crumlin United. Sam Verdon (two), James Chambers and an own goal saw the Saints safely through to the quarter-finals of the competition.

They trail Cork by four points ahead of the game and with two defeats already this year, the Inchicore outfit will be keen to take the points. 

Manager Liam Buckley spoke of his happiness of the Saints' midweek win and believes it will give his side confidence leading into the game against the league's second-placed side.

"I was really pleased with the result on Tuesday against Crumlin,” Buckley said. “We scored some good goals and a few players have put their hands up to be picked now on Friday. We'll assess the squad closer to kick-off and Friday and make a few calls on who is selected."

In team news, the Saints have mixed news on the suspension front. Killian Brennan is available once more having served a two-match additional suspension, while the Saints are without the services of Ian Bermingham following his dismissal in last week's 2-2 draw away to Longford Town.

Brendan Clarke remains out with an ankle injury, and Jason McGuinness is back in training and could feature since his last appearance against Shamrock Rovers in the opening game of the season.

For Saints' skipper Ger O'Brien, the prospect of facing Cork is one he is looking forward to as he hopes to make his first 2015 league appearance for the Saints.

"It's great to be back in the set-up after my hamstring injury,” O’Brien said. “It was a niggling problem so to be back involved playing against Longford and Crumlin last week was great. Playing an hour in the games was planned with Liam and the medical staff, so hopefully the injuries are behind me now."

Bohemians v Longford Town 
Bohemians welcome Longford Town back to Dalymount for a second time in four days, but manager Keith Long says this will be a “different game altogether” from Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the midlanders.

“Longford will be a different animal on Friday night. I saw them play last weekend against St Patrick's, and they could have won the game,” Long said.

“They have a very experienced group of players and are coming to Dalymount in good form, unbeaten in four league games. So, it will be a difficult game for us.”

In the EA Sports Cup, Long was able to make nine changes to the side that beat Drogheda 1-0. 

Dave Mulcahy may feature against Longford Town on Friday, as he comes back to full fitness. Stephen Best came off after a knock on Tuesday and is doubtful. With Derek Prendergast suspended, Long will have to reshuffle his back line.

The manager acknowledged his defenders’ and goalkeeper Dean Delany’s contributions to five clean sheets in six league games, and seven clean sheets in all nine competitive games this season. The team's defensive record is a collective effort, he insists.

“Dean gets the credit, and rightly so. He saved a penalty up in Drogheda and has pulled off important saves in games," said Long.

“But it’s not just Dean, defending starts from the front and the work-rate and effort of the players throughout the team has been very good.”

Longford team news to follow...

Derry City v Shamrock Rovers
Derry boss Peter Hutton said his side’s game against Shamrock Rovers would be “tough” and that the Candystripes would be on their guard.

“They’ve added to what was there last year and put together a vastly experienced squad,” Hutton said.

“Young Michael Drennan is a decent signing for them. He’s a great young player who was doing well in Aston Villa’s youth ranks before he went out on loan to gain experience before he decided to come home.

“I’ve watched him from afar for a while and I know of him, and I know he knows where the net is and he scores goals, so along with Danny North up front as well, they’ll be a threat.”

Hutton said that Derry were waiting on a few players back from injury.

“Stephen Dooley will miss out, Joshua Daniels will miss out. Dean Jarvis began training again during the week but he hasn’t done anything in terms of impact yet, so he’ll be doubtful.

“As well as that his partner is due any day now [Zach Dean Jarvis has been born] so he’ll obviously want to be there when it happens.

“Added to that we have a few lads with bumps and bruises from the Sligo game, Seanan Clucas being one of them, so this week was very much about recovery for them. We’ll have a look at Seanan before the game to see if he’s ready or not.”

“But all in all, we’re looking forward to tonight’s game and playing in front of a home crowd again and hopefully we can do ourselves justice and take something form the game.”

Shamrock Rovers team news to follow...

Dundalk v Drogheda United
Dundalk face their third game in six days when they welcome Drogheda United to Oriel Park.

The champions had their 100% record ended last weekend as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Jackman Park against Limerick, then on Tuesday night, Dundalk advanced to the quarter-finals in their defence of their EA Sports Cup crown as they defeated Shelbourne 1-0.

After the week’s action, The Lilywhites remain on top of the table but have had their lead at the top cut to just two points.

Last season, there were three Louth derbies with one win each for either side and a draw – Drogheda won 4-1 in the first at United Park with Dundalk winning the encounter at Oriel Park by a record margin of 7-0, and the final contest in Drogheda finished level at 1-1 last August.

Stephen Kenny has a doubt over Jake Kelly as he struggles with a muscle injury, but the club were handed a huge boost during the week as captain Stephen O’Donnell, who made the bench for Limerick last Saturday, played the full 90 minutes on Tuesday against Shelbourne after two months out.

Dundalk have no suspensions for the manager to worry about and, overall, the side is close to full strength.

Drogheda will go in search for their first win in five. Despite playing against ten men for almost three quarters of the game last Friday, Drogs were unable to make their extra man advantage count against Bohemians before being undone late on, much to manager Johnny McDonnell’s frustration. 

“The last thing we needed was for one of their players to be sent off,” said McDonnell.

“Tactically we got it right and we were well on top in the game and the red made it a disaster for both sides. I’m happy enough with the performance and I think we’re getting to where I want us to be.”

Drogheda’s last victory over Dundalk came on the opening night of last season as they defeated the Lilywhites 4-1 at United Park, though the league champions would get their revenge a couple of months later with a 7-0 thrashing at Oriel Park.

The third meeting between the sides ended in a 1-1 draw in August and McDonnell is looking forward to his first Louth derby in charge, knowing that his side will be underdogs.

“Dundalk are the champions and they will be close again this year so obviously it’s a huge test. We’ve done our homework in terms of set pieces and team shape so hopefully everything will go according to plan.

“I’m really looking forward to the game, nothing beats a derby atmosphere, and it will give us a great indication of where we are at.”

McDonnell will be without the services of Sean Thornton (hamstring) and Neil Yadolahi (thigh) through injury.

Galway United v Sligo Rovers
Galway United welcome Sligo Rovers to Eamonn Deacy Park for the first all-Connacht clash of the season, keen to create some momentum after securing safe passage into the quarter finals of the EA Sports Cup.

Galway saw off Cockhill Celtic 4-2 at Eamonn Deacy Park on Monday, but now face a lengthening injury list and a number of suspensions being served for the visit of the Bit O'Red.

Manager Tommy Dunne said it would be a “big game” when Galway face their Connacht rivals.

"When Galway play Sligo it's always a big game and Friday will be no different," Dunne said. "Both clubs are in a similar position in the league so it's a big game but everybody is looking forward to it.

"We're under no illusions about how tough it will be. I think Sligo will be well up for the game and they'll be expectant and they'll be pushing hard to secure a result.

"We need to be ready for that and we need to be doing that side of the game ourselves. We need to be pushing hard to get a result."

Dunne has a number of injury and suspension absences to contend with heading into the game against Owen Heary's side.

Missing through suspension are Marc Ludden (one game) and Sam Oji (two games). Andy O'Connell (ankle) took a heavy knock against Cockhill Celtic and is ruled out indefinitely.

Jason Molloy will be out of contention for at least a month with a broken toe sustained against Shamrock Rovers, and Kilian Cantwell (knee) and Aaron McDonagh (knee) are both continuing their rehabilitation and are likely to out of action for a few more weeks.

"We're down quite a few bodies at the moment and it's not ideal,” Dunne said.

Sligo, with a new coaching team behind Heary of Liam O'Brien and Joseph Ndo appointed on Thursday, have a few absentees for the trip as well, as they search for a first league win.

Red cards to both Keith Ward, against Bray Wanderers, and for Danny Ledwith, in Monday's EA Sports Cup defeat against Derry City, mean both are suspended for this game.

Captain Gavin Peers is out as he picked up a groin injury that has ruled him out. Fellow defender Jeff Henderson remains out.

There is a doubt on the fitness of Steven Beattie due to hamstring soreness.

Goalkeeper Richard Brush returned from injury in the 2-0 Cup loss to Derry and came through the full 90mins and extra-time without any problems.

Heary came away from the Derry game pleased with his side’s improved performance, and he is hoping to take that into the game with Galway.

His side were down to ten men after a sending off for Ledwith, so had to work extremely hard in the extra-time defeat.

“I thought that we played a lot better in the Derry game,” Heary said.

“We kept a clean sheet for the 90 minutes and defended well for the best part of the game. When we went down to ten men the lads all worked very hard and were tireless in their efforts.”

SATURDAY

Bray Wanderers v Limerick FC (5.45pm)

Limerick manager Martin Russell says his side will have taken a “boost” from stalling the champions but that it will only be “worth itself if we can build on it” against Bray tomorrow.

The Shannonsiders became the first team to score against and take points off leaders Dundalk last weekend as Paul O’Conor’s last-minute header lifted them off the foot of the Premier Division table.

Russell’s players are still searching for their first win of the season going into their seventh game, with Bray sitting alongside them on three points after beating Sligo Rovers 3-1 at the Showgrounds in their last outing.

“We’ve just got to keep going. It was only one game and there are many more big games to come all the way through the season. In the last few weeks, the lads have given what they can,” Russell told LimerickFC.ie.

“Some of them will obviously need more time to get better because it’s a young squad. From the group that we have, they’re giving their best and they got some reward.

“Bray have sent out a signal. We’ve sent out a signal. I don’t think there are any easy games. I think you have got to really earn the wins and I think that’s going to be the way all the way through. 

“We’ve just got to look and focus now on each one when it comes along and try to do our best to get a performance and the points. I think most teams are capable of doing over the other one depending on the day.

“We’ve got to focus on Bray and try to put in a similar performance to that against Dundalk and see if we can get even a better reward. We can take a lot of heart from last week, we’ve got something we can build on and that’s our intention.”

Limerick have a fully-fit squad to choose from.

Bray team news to follow