AIRTRICITY LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION FIXTURES, SATURDAY, 25 MARCH
Cork City v Dundalk, Turner's Cross, 3pm, LIVE on RTE 2
It's a mouthwatering battle on Leeside.
Cork City welcome the champions Dundalk to Turner’s Cross on Saturday desperate to lay down a title marker.
They come in to his one on the back of five consecutive wins, with their latest outing a 2-1 win away to Shamrock Rovers last Friday.
John Caulfield’s side have won their last two home games 4-0 against Galway United and 2-1 against Sligo Rovers.
Dundalk travel south with four wins from five; the only game where they have failed to win was a 3-1 defeat away to Derry City, their last away fixture.
Caulfield will have to plan for the tie without the services of Greg Bolger who picked up a calf injury against Sligo Rovers. Johnny Dunleavy is being assessed after suffering a knock against Shamrock Rovers.
Seán Hoare was included in the Lilywhites matchday squad for the first time this season last weekend after recovering form a groin strain. Stephen O’Donnell is ruled out once more with a thigh strain and Shane Grimes is a long-term absentee due to a hamstring problem.
John Caulfield (Cork City)
“The guts of their team has been together for the last number of years and have done very well. They are going for four in a row and I am sure they are relishing the fact that people are doubting them, but we haven’t taken our eye off the ball at all. We know how serious they are and how serious we have to be if we want to be challenging at the end of the season.”
Stephen Kenny (Dundalk)
“It was a good performance from ourselves against St Pat’s. We have to build on that. The players look forward to these games. That’s what we want. The players want to play in front of big houses and we enjoy that. We enjoy the challenge of that.”
St Pat's v Shamrock Rovers, Richmond Park, 5pm
It's a Dublin derby in Inchicore as the Saints search for a desperately needed morale booster.
Former Shamrock Rovers player and manager and current St Pat’s boss, Liam Buckley, expects a bumper crowd for what promises to be another high-intensity collision.
Rovers boss Stephen Bradley has urged his men to turn their positive performances into points as they look to climb up the table. They lie in sixth position.
Pat’s will give late fitness tests to goalkeeper Barry Murphy and Darren Dennehy as both recover from knocks. Otherwise, Buckley has a full squad to choose from.
For the visitors Paul Corry is out for the next two weeks after taking a knock to his knee, while Ryan Connolly is struggling with a foot injury.
Liam Buckley (St Pat's)
“It’s a Dublin derby and both sides will be keen to get one over the other ahead of the rest of the season; it’s always like that whichever team we come up against from Dublin. Both teams are still settling and gelling together so we can expect another tough game that could go either way.”
Stephen Bradley (Shamrock Rovers)
“Nothing changes for us, we go and play the same way, obviously cut out the errors. We go and approach the game the same way, the same mentality, same desire and we go and win the game. It’s important for us to go and turn these performances into wins.”
Drogheda United v Bohemians, United Park, 5.30pm
Drogheda United are looking for their first win in four games when they host Bohemians.
The Drogs are on a three-match losing run though they still sit in mid-table in the league at this early stage of the season. They suffered a 4-0 defeat to Derry City at the weekend.
Keith Long has told his Bohs players "to make the jersey their own" as they look to extend their unbeaten league run to four.
Killian Brennan misses out again for Drogheda as he continues his recovery from injury while Richie Purdy will serve the final game of a two-match ban.
Stephen Elliott is doubtful with a hamstring strain while Colm Deasy is struggling with a back complaint. Luke Gallagher returns having served a suspension.
The Gypsies were dealt a blow this week with the news that star striker Dinny Corcoran will be out of action for three to six weeks with a MCL (knee) injury.
Georgie Poynton and Derek Pender were also forced off through illness and a hamstring strain respectively against Galway United, but both are available for the trip Drogheda.
Pete Mahon (Drogheda United)
"I'm really looking forward to the game. It feels like a long time since we've played at home and obviously we're eager to get the result. Bohs have put a few results together after a bad start but every team in the league is going to have their ups and downs.
"It's too early in the season to refer to it as a must win game but we're looking at all of our home games as opportunities to get points on the board."
Keith Long (Bohemians)
"Drogheda is a difficult place to go. I've enormous respect for Pete Mahon and John Gill and the work they've done. They've been around the league for a long time and have a huge amount of experience. They came to watch us last Friday, so they'll have a plan for us and we will have to be ready for that."
Bray Wanderers v Limerick, Carlisle Grounds, 7.30pm
Newly promoted Limerick make the trip to the Carlisle Grounds this Saturday, searching for their second win of the campaign.
They made a stunning return to the Premier Division with a 5-1 win over Sligo Rovers at the Markets Field, but manager Martin Russell knows they're in for a long, tough slog in their mission to stay up.
Martin Russell (Limerick)
“From the outset I was one that said it’s a really competitive league. It’s still in the very early stages and it will pan out to be what it will be, but points will be hard won. Whether you’re playing at home or playing away everyone is capable of beating each other.”
For Limerick Dave O’Connor and John O’Flynn have returned from injury and are both in contention. However, Dean Clarke is doubtful due to a groin strain.
Finn Harps v Sligo Rovers, Finn Park, 7.45pm
Finn Harps are looking for their first home win of the new season in the northwest derby.
The hosts have taken four points from the two away games against St Pat’s and Limerick in the past week and are aiming to build on that decent away form.
The Bit O' Red secured their first win of the season last week with a 3-2 win over Bray Wanderers. Last season they failed to secure a win against their north-west rivals with two draws and a defeat.
Harps are without Ethan Boyle, who has been called up to the Republic of Ireland squad for this Saturday’s UEFA U21 Championships Qualifying Round Group 5 fixture against Kosovo at the Tallaght Stadium.
Horgan also has concerns over the fitness of veteran midfielder Barry Molloy and striker Ciaran O’Connor.
Sligo are boosted by the return of Michael Schlingermann to full fitness. Regan Donelon will have a late fitness test prior to kick off as he battles to overcome an ankle complaint.
Ollie Horgan (Finn Harps)
“Last season Sligo finished something like 20 points above us in the table, so they are a quality side with the likes of Kieran Sadlier and Raphael Cretaro there. We have only got a point at home this season so that has to change very quickly if we are going to stay in the Premier Division.”
Dave Robertson (Sligo Rovers)
"We know we are in for a physical battle. We need to be disciplined, tough and take them on in every area. I want the players to show a resilience once again. We are starting to show a consistency. This is a direct test of us and we have to be professional - the most important thing for us is to achieve and games like this are key to that."