Bohemians v Cork City, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Realistically, Cork City can't afford any more slip-ups in their quest to retain the Premier Division title.

With 20 minutes remaining in all the games fourteen day ago, they had narrowed the gap to Dundalk to one point in the 'as it stands' table. 

Sligo's late smash and grab win stunned the home fans in Turners Cross and Cork's misery was compounded by the news of Michael Duffy's late winner for Dundalk in Markets Field.

Suddenly, they found themselves six points behind the leaders and in need of a near perfect finish to the season. 

They could have an easier game to get back on track, in truth. Bohemians have shown a highly impressive burst of form in the past month, smashing five past Limerick and then turning over Shamrock Rovers once again in another Dublin derby triumph. 

They then made it three wins on the trot with a 2-0 win in the Brandywell last weekend, a result which carried them a long way clear of relegation trouble. 

Cork were lucky to eke out a scoreless draw in this fixture at a similar stage of the season last year as they fell over the line in the title race. They'd be doing exceptionally well to get a needed win this weekend.  

The visitors may take some heart from their ruthless zapping of Longford Town's Cup hopes in Strokestown Road last weekend but it must be noted that the hosts were on a hiding to nothing after being reduced to 10 men early on.  

Gaffer talk:

Keith Long (Bohemians):  "They are champions, we are the underdogs. Cork are a strong, well-organised, talented team with some outstanding players. We will have to play to our maximum to get a result but if we can manage to do that, we know that they are capable.

"It feels like forever since our last home game against Limerick on August 3 but we have had the considerable consolation of winning the five games we have played away from home in the intervening period.

"We have been on a great run of form recently, losing only once way to Dundalk. This run has provided the players with great confidence and belief. Our performances have been really pleasing and we have played some good attacking football.

"But the most impressive aspect has been the players’ focus, determination and attitude towards every game. Being able to pick a settled team has also been very helpful and obviously results have meant changes have been kept to a minimum."

John Caulfield (Cork City): "Keith and Trevor have done a great job at Bohs. They have very good players and they are always very tough opponents. It is the time of the season where you have to be at your best, and we are preparing for the game to see if we can get the three points.

"Bohs are on a great run and they are still in the Cup as well, so they have everything to play for. From our point of view, we are trying to close the gap and we want to see if we can pick up the three points."

Bohemians: Ryan Masterson (quad) and Danny Grant (bug) will sit this one out. Darragh Leahy (groin) is a doubt. Ryan Swan (cruciate) remains out.

Cork City: Colm Horgan is still sidelined, while Johnny Dunleavy and Seán McLoughlin are both set to miss out. Alan Bennett came off against Longford last week with a strain and is being assessed ahead of the game.

Waterford FC v Bray Wanderers. RSC, 7.45pm

Bastien Hery has been one of Waterford's most impressive performers in their first season back in the top flight

Waterford have won just one of their last five matches and fell out of the European spots after a sobering evening in Inchicore two weeks ago. 

Manager Alan Reynolds will need his side to recover their blistering early season form if they're to pip Shamrock Rovers for third place. 

Given their recent slump, Waterford will need to right the ship if the battle is to remain alive in time for the pivotal trip to Tallaght on the penultimate weekend of the season. 

Bray Wanderers for their part are long resigned to relegation from the Premier Division. It is Gary Cronin's third league game in charge since being appointed permanent manager last month. Both he and new owner Niall O'Driscoll will be no doubt keen to get a traumatic season over with so they can start fresh from the second tier next year. 

Gaffer talk: 

Alan Reynolds (Waterford):  "The defeat last week in UCD was disappointing. Credit to UCD they took their chances but we felt it was one of our poorest performances and it was very frustrating. We’ve spoken about it as a group and we’re all sticking together and looking to Friday.

"We haven’t had a home game for six weeks so it’ll be nice to be back at the RSC. To get a big home crowd behind us will be great.

"The table might show a big gap between us and Bray but they’ve given us too really two games away from home and they aren’t going to make life easy for us. We need to raise our game in front of our home crowd and that’s what we’ll look to do."

Team news: 

Waterford: Cory Galvin (knee) and Derek Daly (groin) miss the game while John Martin (ankle) is now available for selection. Noel Hunt (groin) is 50/50 but Courtney Duffus misses out with an on-going groin problem. Bastien Hery is suspended. Sander Puri returns from international duty.

Shamrock Rovers v Limerick, Tallaght Stadium, 8pm

Rovers host Limerick in Tallaght Stadium

The latest set of league results finally lifted Rovers above Waterford and into that coveted European spot in third in the table. 

Stephen Bradley's team have bounced back well from yet another reversal against Bohemians three weeks ago to become the first away team to win at Oriel Park all season and then comfortably dispose of Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds last weekend. 

Limerick's chances, meanwhile, of avoiding the nerve jangling relegation-promotion playoff have taken a turn for the bleak in recent weeks with three defeats on the trot coinciding with Sligo Rovers' timely upswing in form.

Indeed, they lost a critical six-pointer to Gerard Lyttle's men in Markets Field four weeks ago and now find themselves 11 points shy of automatic safety with time running out. 

Gaffer talk:

Stephen Bradley (Shamrock Rovers): "We've always known that Waterford would drop points and we'd gain points. It was just about concentrating on what we were doing and working hard.

"The goal difference [advantage] is really important for us, it's something we've looked at, to concede less and obviously score more. This year we're doing well in that area but we need to keep going and tomorrow night is a chance to add to that. But we need to make sure that we're fully focused and ready for Limerick.

"I'm not sure what way they'll come and approach it but we've to be right mentally and respect Limerick and be ready to go and play."

Team news: 

Shamrock Rovers: Trevor Clarke, the 2017 PFAI Young Player of the Year, is nearing fitness having sat out most of the season with knee ligament damage and is eager to be named in the starting line-up tomorrow.

Bradley is cautious and doesn't wish to rush him back to action but stresses his recovery is well ahead of schedule.

Luke Byrne and Dave McAllister will be out for the rest of the season. Byrne had a recurrence of his knee injury and won't feature again this year.

Sean Boyd is training so he could be back in the team next week.

Sligo Rovers v St. Patrick's Athletic, Showgrounds, 7.45pm (Saturday)

Jack Keaney and John Mahon celebrate Sligo Rovers vital 2-1 win in Cork a fortnight ago

Things are looking healthier in the Showgrounds than they were two months ago when members of the backroom team rowed with supporters following a 2-1 loss away to relegation certainties Bray Wanderers. 

Wins over Derry City, Limerick and, most impressively of all, Cork City have carried them to the brink of safety in the intervening period. Only a highly unusual sequence of results will see them sucked into a relegation/promotion playoff. 

Veteran hero and record appearance holder Raf Cretaro has come particularly strong in the last few weeks, nabbing important goals in the away victories against Limerick and Cork City. 

On the flipside, Rovers home form has been dismal and they face a Pat's team in tidy form themselves, off the back of a superb 3-0 demolition of Waterford FC in Richmond Park.

Pat's, the last side outside of Dundalk or Cork to win the league title, are in mid-table cruise control at present and sitting in fifth spot.