It was Monday night madness in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division, with many sides no doubt still thinking about the outcome of their game on the midweek round of games.

Where do we start?

Damien Duff's Shelbourne made it four wins on the spin by beating UCD 2-0 and tonight they face a real test of their progress when they visit the champions Shamrock Rovers.

For the Hoops, well nobody saw their defeat in Drogheda coming. Danny Mandriou saw red and very little went right for Stephen Bradley’s side.

That opened up the door for Derry City to close the gap on the leaders. But they were outplayed by Sligo Rovers on the night, which left Ruaidhri Higgins saying the Candystripes had let their fans down as they slumped to a third straight defeat.

In the home dugout John Russell was leading the Bit O’ Red to a win just 24 hours after the club parted company with Liam Buckley. Russell could be a contender for the role and has a chance to further enhance his reputation as they face UCD tonight.

St Patrick’s Athletic and Bohemians continue to have their ups and downs and on Monday they left with very different feelings from their previous game. Pat’s came on the back of a terrible performance, while Bohs had a victory to put a pep into their step. However, Tunde Owolabi took matters into his own hands with a hat-trick to pile the pressure on Keith Long once again.

Bohs face Drogheda tonight, desperate for win, while United’s upset over Shamrock Rovers means they could move level on points with the Gypsies tonight if they were to come away with another victory.

Finally, the team which has slowly edged into, dare we say it, the title mix. Dundalk’s latest win over Finn Harps means they are now just a point behind Derry and eight from the leaders Shamrock Rovers.

Stephen O’Donnell faces his former club tonight with Oriel Park likely to be bouncing thanks to recent results and the extra spice now in this fixture.

Harps are becoming the forgotten team of the league, with their latest defeats meaning they’ll find it very difficult to get out of the bottom two for the rest of the campaign.

There’s the small matter of a north-west derby fixture with Derry City this evening.

The congested fixture list means there is little time to take a breath in the league. The season is now 50% complete, now for part two.

Damien Duff

Shamrock Rovers v Shelbourne, Tallaght Stadium, 8pm

Shamrock Rovers are looking to put their surprise defeat to Drogheda on Monday behind them quickly as they welcome Shelbourne to Tallaght for the last game before the mid-season break.

Ryan Brennan's first-half goal was enough for the Drogs and while Rovers didn't lose any ground in the title race with Derry also suffering defeat, they did see Daniel Mandroiu sent-off and Jack Byrne pick up an injury.

The Hoops have a healthy seven point lead at the top of the table and are 15 points better off that Shels, but manager Stephen Bradley is wary of the threat that the visitors will present.

"They're coming into the game on really good form," Bradley said. "I’m sure they’ll come and have a right go in Tallaght so we’ve got to make sure that we’re ready for that. They showed when we played them in Tolka, in the second half they were right in the game so we’ve got to make sure that we respect that."

"Hopefully we can get another big crowd in Tallaght to help us get the three points. We know they've been very important for us, so hopefully they’ll turn up in numbers.

"I’m sure they will, we had fantastic support in Drogheda again on Monday night. Hopefully we have that again on Friday and we can send them home happy with three points."

Shelbourne travel for this Dublin derby in both expectation and hope given their fine recent form.

With four wins on the bounce, Shels manager Damien Duff is eager to test his side against the defending champions and while he's not going overboard about his side's form, he's not playing it down either.

"We know we can mix it with the best of them and this run gives us further belief but we won't be getting carried away. Like always we’ll park it and we move on," he said.

"We're building a team where people can relate to. Whether it’s the working man or woman. I guarantee they just will see lads wearing their hearts on the sleeve day in day out where they’ll give their all for the club," he said.

"It’s been amazing so far," he added.

Asked whether he was relishing another Dublin Derby, Duff said: "It’s just another three points at stake but we expect the players to be flying with energy levels at full tilt before the break."

Duff does have injury concerns however with Adam Thomas, Daniel Hawkins and Sean McSweeney all out, although Brian McManus returns to the squad.

Derry City's Will Patching

Derry City v Finn Harps, Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium, 7.45pm

Both sides come into the North West derby off the back of defeats, but there's a chasm between the two teams in the league table.

A disappointing 2-1 defeat to Sligo Rovers saw Derry City pass up the chance to make up ground on league leaders Shamrock Rovers, while a 1-0 defeat for Harps against Dundalk leaves them nine points from relegation safety.

Harps boss Ollie Horgan was pleased with aspects of his side's performance against the Lilywhites but was left to bemoan their wastefulness in front of goal.

He said: "I thought we played quite well on Monday night, but if you don't take your chances in this division you will struggle to put points on the board and that ended up being the case come full time. But full credit to the lads who kept at it until the end and probably deserved something from the game."

"We have to keep our heads up, keep battling and keep things tight at the back to give ourselves a chance in what will be a very very difficult game.

"They say in derby games form doesn't necessarily come into the equation so hopefully that bit of luck that has maybe evaded us in recent weeks goes our way and we can get a result."

Harps will be without David Webster, who misses out through injury, while Elie-Gael N'Zeyi, Ryan Connolly and Barry McNamee are doubts.

Derry meanwhile are sweating over the fitness of Cameron Dummigan, who hobbled off against Sligo on Monday.

The Candystripes come into the game off the back of three defeats but despite that, City assistant manager Alan Reynolds sees plenty of reason for optimism.

"We're really looking forward to it; you could sense a real buzz and an edge about training this morning," he said.

"Like ourselves they've had a few tricky results recently and they'll be keen to put that right. At the end of the days it's a derby and you'd imagine the shackles will be off."

"The game at Finn Park was very tight and I expect they'll be well organised coming here but we want to get back on the winning trail so it's up to us to try to find a way."

"It'll be another big, noisy crowd and I have no doubt our supporters will get right behind the team. These are the games where they can make a real difference."

It's the Stephen O'Donnell derby

Dundalk v St Patrick's Athletic, Oriel Park, 7.45pm

Such is the progress made by Dundalk under Stephen O'Donnell, they sit three points ahead of his former club St Patrick's Athletic, with a game-in-hand, going into this latest clash in the hunt for European spot this season.

The Lilywhites have even closed on Derry City in the table as the likes of Robbie Benson and Patrick Hoban, stalwarts of their great success, have been aided by an all-around general improvement week-on-week in Oriel Park.

Dundalk's home form is near faultless, with six wins and draws against Shamrock Rovers and Derry City.

They added to that with victories on the road in the last week against the Candystripes and Finn Harps so expectations will continue to rise in O'Donnell's first season.

Dundalk boss O'Donnell in pleased with his side's progress and their form, with just one defeat in their last ten games.

Tim Clancy has struggled to find that consistency in replacing O'Donnell, but their last performance brought a welcome 3-0 win against Bohemians.

"I'm delighted with our progress," he told "In pre-season, we were beaten 5-1 at home to Bohemians and we lost away to Waterford. From the outside, I’m sure people were thinking there’s lots of work to be done if Dundalk want to be competitive.

"Since then, we’ve lost two games in 17 and I’m delighted with the players. They’re progressing individually and as a collective unit. I couldn’t have asked for any more from them in terms of their attitude and the quality they’ve shown and we’ve also added belief."

O'Donnell is wary of the threat that his former side will bring to Oriel Park however.

"They have dangerous offensive players and they have a good spine to their team and when we played them in Inchicore earlier in the season, they arguably shaded the game," he said. "They have good quality dotted around the pitch but so do we and we'll be ready."

Saints boss Clancy is hoping for another good away performance from his side before the mid-season break

"We've been good on the road this season and before our two derbies at home last weekend, we were unbeaten in three away games in a row in Drogheda, Derry and Sligo, with a 4-0 win in Drogheda and draws in Derry and Sligo, so we'll he hoping to keep up that form," he said. "We are looking forward to the game against a Dundalk team who are in good form.

"We played well against them at our place earlier in the season and probably should have got a win, we're looking to build on that. It would be a great way to finish off the first part of the season with a victory and that's what we're looking to do."

Jamie Lennon (foot) will miss the game but was began running again and is hoping to return soon, Adam Murphy underwent successful hamstring surgery in London last weekend and is recovering well while Ronan Coughlan (hamstring) will also miss the game.

Paddy Barrett continues his recovery from surgery and has returned to the training pitch, with James Abankwah also nearing a return to action.

Ryan Brennan scored the winner against Shamrock Rovers

Bohemians v Drogheda United, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Drogheda boss Kevin Doherty beamed with pride at his team's performance in beating the runaway leaders Shamrock Rovers last Monday.

After playing with 10-men against Finn Harps, where they came back to win 3-1, the part-timers had to recover, work in their day-to-day jobs and then prepare for the Hoops later that evening.

An injury crisis meant their defence had to be configured with the likes of Evan Weir playing at centre-half and Georgie Poynton moving to the left of the back four.

They outsmarted and frustrated Stephen Bradley's men to open up a gap on Finn Harps in the bid to stay in the top flight.

Doherty is hoping to welcome one or two of their unavailable players out with Darragh Nugent still on the sidelines. Dane Massey was forced off against Shamrock Rovers so is doubtful.

Keith Long was left scratching his head at losing 3-0 to St Patrick's Athletic on Monday, rueing defence mistakes, and an inability to take chance.

Having not won back-to-back games all season, the Bohs boss was hoping to finally achieve it in Richmond Park.

It’s back to the drawing board now. Tonight’s game begins a run of fixtures where Bohs need to break that statistic if they are to reach their goal of Europe this year.

Long said: "The way this league is, it’s very unpredictable. There are a lot of inconsistencies in terms of performance and those who put a good run together can climb the table very rapidly.

"We haven’t been able to do that."

Sligo Rovers take on UCD

UCD v Sligo Rovers, UCD Bowl, 7.45pm

John Russell begins the final game of his brief as Sligo Rovers interim manager as the Bit O' Red look to build on their morale-boosting success over Derry City.

Russell led Sligo to success against Derry with The Showgrounds rocking at the full-time whistle thanks to former Republic of Ireland Under-17 captain scoring his first senior goal in the 93rd minute.

The Sligo board are actively recruiting a successor to Liam Buckley after parting company with the veteran manager five days ago.

Another victory would put Russell in the frame and it seems he is keen on the position.

''Everyone was delighted to get back to winning ways on Monday," he said. "We were aggressive in our play all night and our mentality was spot on. I felt we created a lot of chances and the players fed off the atmosphere in the ground which helped us to go on and get the late winner.

"UCD will be a different challenge tomorrow evening. We know they carry an attacking threat having drawn with them at home in our previous meeting.

"The players have worked extremely hard this week and are looking forward to the game. Hopefully we will have a big following on the night’’.

In team news, Garry Buckley was forced off on Monday night and will be assessed close to kick off. David Cawley, Robbie McCourt and Max Mata all near a return to the squad having missed out through injury on Monday.

College were unfortunate and aggrieved in their defeat to Shelbourne, unhappy at the awarding of a penalty moments before half-time in a game they had chance to take the lead.

Conceding just seconds into the second half put the contest beyond them.

The positive is Finn Harps have been unable to make any ground on them. A win tonight could take them off the bottom.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Listen to the RTÉ Soccer podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.