All twelve Premier Division sides are in action tonight with Cork City’s home clash with Bray Wanderers the main event as the Leesiders look to maintain their remarkable 100 per cent start to the season, while the high-flying Seagulls will be looking to halt their dominance in this season’s campaign.
Cork City v Bray Wanderers Turner’s Cross, 7:45pm
John Caulfield’s side are looking to complete the first round of games in the Premier Division with a clean sweep, having already won their opening ten games of the season.
City have won their opening ten games in the league, recording a 3-0 win in their last outing away to St. Pat’s. 3-0 was also the scoreline in their last appearance at Turner’s Cross, with Derry City the side defeated on that occasion.
The visitors come into the game in fine form as well, with seven wins from their opening ten; their last two games have seen them win away to Dundalk (3-1) and at home to Shamrock Rovers (4-2).
Cork City: On the injury front, Jimmy Keohane remains sidelined with a shoulder injury, while Alan Bennett is unlikely to feature after suffering a hamstring strain against St. Pat’s.
Bray Wanderers: Wanderers will continue to be without defenders Hugh Douglas, Kevin Lynch and Conor Earley for the trip to Cork, while defender Derek Foran is rated as doubtful for this week’s fixture.
John Caulfield (Cork City): "Bray are a really explosive attacking side. You can see with the number of goals they have scored, they are scoring goals every week, and they will see Friday night as an opportunity to close the gap on us.
"The league will only really heat up going into September which is when the test will come. A lead at the moment doesn’t really matter, I don’t look at it that way. From my point of view, at the moment, it is just about focusing on what we are doing and seeing where we can be going into the break in June."
Harry Kenny (Bray Wanderers): "We were delighted to get the three points last Friday against Rovers in front of a big crowd at the Carlisle Grounds.
"We started the game nervously and conceded an early goal. I thought from that point onwards we dominated the game and played some of our best football so far this season."
Bohemians v Finn Harps, Dalymount Park, 7:45pm
Bohemians will be looking to leap-frog past their visitors with victory over Finn Harps at Dalymount tonight.
The Gypsies welcome Finn Harps to Dalymount Park determined to end a four-game losing run in the league.
That dip in form - albeit two of those defeats came against the best two teams in the country - has seen Bohs drop from fourth in the table to ninth.
Finn Harps will, once again, be forced to field a makeshift side as Ollie Horgan’s squad has been decimated by injuries in recent weeks.
Bohemians: Bohs continue with the exact same squad as last week, which means Dinny Corcoran (knee), Ismahil Akinade (surgery to remove spleen) and Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remain on the sidelines.
Finn Harps: Danny Morrissey, Ciaran O’Connor, Jonny Bonner, BJ Banda, Packie Mailey and Harry Doherty remain out injured, while Eddie Dsane, Barry Molloy and Paddy McCourt are all still carrying knocks and are doubts for tonight’s match.
Keith Long (Bohemians): "It's going to be a difficult one - Finn Harps have done very well on the road this year. But we are determined to go out and do what it takes to get the win.
"We're not even a third of the way into the season yet, there's a long way to go. But we want to finish off the last of the first series of games with a victory."
Ollie Horgan (Finn Harps): "It’s well documented the number of injuries we have had recently but I didn’t use that as an excuse for the manner of our defeat to Drogheda last Friday night. That performance was just not good enough. And if we don’t up it a good bit Bohemians will leave us going home with nothing."
Drogheda United v Sligo Rovers, United Park, 7:45pm
Sligo Rovers will be looking to give new manager Gerard Lyttle (pictured above) the perfect start to his career with the Bit O’Red as they travel to Drogheda United tonight.
Drogheda have bounced back from that recent five-match losing streak to have won two of their last three games including a 2-0 win last Friday away to Finn Harps.
Drogheda United: Thomas Byrne is unavailable as he is away with the Ireland youth team, while Lloyd Buckley and Jake Hyland are rued out through injury. Sean Brennan will be available for selection having served a two-match ban, while Killian Brennan will return to the squad for the first time in two months having recovered from a broken collarbone.
Sligo Rovers: Rovers have no injury concerns, however, John Russell continues to serve a red card suspension and will not travel.
Pete Mahon (Drogheda): "I've been drilling it into the players this week that we need make these games count in our favour. We have Galway and St Pat's up next so it's an opportunity for us.
"The league is very tight at the moment, you could throw a blanket over half a dozen teams so it's imperative that we keep picking up wins."
Gerard Lyttle (Sligo): "It was good to see the team last Saturday and Declan made some changes in the game too so I saw different aspects of the squad.
"We have some short-term targets that we have set ourselves. One or two wins can make a big difference as the table stands and we'll be aiming to start that on Friday.
"It's going to be a difficult game because Drogheda have shown what they are capable of by some of the wins they have had. We can't wait to take on the challenge."
Galway United v Dundalk, Eamonn Deacy Park, 7:45pm
Bottom side Galway United are still looking for their first win of the season and they face the tricky task of taking on champions Dundalk at Eamonn Deacy Park tonight.
Galway United: Shane Keegan has a clean bill of health for the visit of Dundalk.
Dundalk: Dundalk will be without Robbie Benson and Seán Gannon for the next month or so as they are ruled out with hamstring and knee injuries respectively. Shane Grimes is continuing his recovery from his hamstring tear and has returned to full training in the past week. Stephen O’Donnell started his first league game since the opening night of the season last week. Paddy Barrett has recovered from the thigh knock he had last week and Niclas Vemmelund is fully fit.
Shane Keegan (Galway): "Dundalk are hard to break down. For us, it's going to be a case of having to play without the ball for periods, with them really testing our work rate and concentration levels.
"There will be chances that will arrive for us over the course of the game, against Dundalk, you've got to take the chances when they appear and we need to be clinical."
Shamrock Rovers v Limerick, Tallaght Stadium, 8:00pm
Shamrock Rovers will be looking to finish the first round of fixtures on a high as they welcome Limerick to Tallaght Stadium.
The Hoops have experienced a very mixed start to the league campaign with four victories and six defeats in their opening ten matches.
Limerick will be looking for a result in Tallaght, which will keep the Shannonsiders ahead of the Hoops in the table.
Shamrock Rovers: Michael O'Connor and Trevor Clarke are ruled out for Rovers through suspension.
Limerick: Limerick travel to Dublin with a fully-fit squad with the exception of defender Shane Tracy (knee). Under-19 midfielder Clyde O’Connell is included for the trip.
Stephen Bradley (Shamrock Rovers): "They're a good side, they'll come here and play like a lot of teams do, play with freedom, and we need to be ready for that and ready to match them and take three points. We want to finish [the first round of games] with a win.
"We want to go and oppose ourselves on Limerick, start right and finish off our chances, and when things are going against us for a few minutes, which it will, we need to make sure we're together and be hard to beat."
Willie Boland (Limerick): "I feel that we can go up there, be confident and get the ball down and play, in the right areas of course. But also we can exploit certain areas with our pace in our counterattacks as well.
"We’re going up there with the mindset to go and win the game. I think it’s important that we go up there with that mindset – I don’t see why we shouldn’t.
"We’ve obviously got to be aware of their dangers and what they’ve got in their team. But we’ve got to make sure that we impose ourselves on the game as well and set up in a way that’s going to favour us to go and win the game."
Derry City v St Patrick’s Athletic, Maginn Park, 7:45pm
The Candystripes have a chance of moving back into the top four with victory over struggling St Patrick’s Athletic at Maginn Park this evening.
Liam Buckley (St Pat's): It will be a very difficult game. I have no doubt that we are in with a chance. It's a tricky one but one we're looking forward to and one we're trying to win. They are a good footballing team so we need to make sure we are robust in our defending, we're compact and give ourselves a chance of getting a result.
Kenny Shiels (Derry City): Speaking to Drive 105MNL, Shiels said: "I watched St Pat’s beat Shamrock Rovers and it was a great performance. You know the qualities that they have. They are a very, very dangerous team and they play good football. They build from the back and I think that them and ourselves are the two teams who are consistent in that and want to play properly.
We want to entertain our home supporters and give them something to be proud of. We haven’t achieved that this season yet, but we will and we’re getting there. Everybody is supportive to what we are doing.
Derry and St Pat’s team news to follow