It's another relatively quiet Friday evening in the SSE Airtricity League owing to the European exploits of Shamrock Rovers, Sligo Rovers and St Patrick's Athletic.

Dundalk start the day third in the table, nine points off the Hoops, with the same amount of games played and they will welcome Finn Harps to Oriel Park.

With 13 fixtures to fulfil this season, losing isn't an option for the Lilywhites if they want to take advantage of Stephen Bradley's charges potentially being distracted by their European run.

Finn Harps and UCD are battling for ninth place with Drogheda well clear in 8th

For Harps, the positivity from the fightback draw against Pat's last month might have completely dissipated on Sunday when they were pegged back by Derry. Having looked like they were going to secure a rare victory this season, they ended up being beaten 2-1 - the winner cruelly arriving deep into second-half stoppage time.

It was compounded by news from down the road at The Showgrounds, where UCD recorded just their second win of the season, beating Sligo Rovers 2-0.

The big question for Students' manager Andy Myler is whether his young guns can finally deliver at the Bowl, where they've drawn five and lost six of their matches so far this season.

Harps' better - or perhaps less worse - goal difference is what currently has them in the play-off place ahead of the university side and, as has been written before, the remaining two meetings between the clubs this season might well go on to define their respective campaigns.

Ollie Horgan will be hoping for a response from his players

Shelbourne will travel across the city having been given fair warning by that shock result for UCD against Sligo.

Damien Duff's charges make the short trip having finally won a game last time out. But that 3-1 victory over Harps was their first in five games. They've taken four points from their meetings with College this season, and they will surely see this as a golden opportunity to do back-to-back victories to kickstart a late push for Europe.

While they currently trail Pat's in fourth by eight points, they do have a game in hand. A meeting with the club in last place couldn't be more welcome for the former Republic of Ireland international.

Dundalk v Finn Harps, Oriel Park, 7.45pm

Dundalk will be hoping to get back to winning ways after a Louth derby defeat to Drogheda United followed by a draw against St Patrick's Athletic that saw the Lilywhites drop down to third.

But head coach Stephen O'Donnell isn't paying attention to league positions at present.

"If you are solely worried about league tables and results, it can get you away from what got you into a healthy position in the first place. You just need to train well and work hard. It's that simple. You don’t need to take other stuff into account," he told the club website.

"Football is very simplistic and if you focus fully on your game and training then you will give yourself the best chance of finishing wherever it is in the league.

"If you worry about where you are in the league and what you need to do, are you fully focused on your training or the match? No. One comes before the other. Train well, work hard, focus on your game and the other side of it will take care of itself, not the other way around."

Finn Harps will travel east with the injured David Webster, while while Regan Donelon, Barry McNamee, Ryan Connolly and Eric McWoods are not fully fit.

Manager Ollie Horgan says his team need to start producing results in the battle to avoid automatic relegation.

"The result on Sunday night was tough to take but we can't dwell on that," he said.

"Every game from now to the end of the season is vital. Oriel Park has not been a happy hunting ground during my time in charge but we need to hope we can pull out a result because at present it’s only goal difference keeping us off the foot of the table.

"Dundalk have been very impressive this season, especially defensively. Their home record since supporters returned is savage and they’ll be looking to continue that form and keep the pressure on Shamrock Rovers at the top of the division."

UCD v Shelbourne, UCD Bowl, 7.45pm

Shelbourne travel south with Mark Coyle and Sean McSweeney as doubts after their pair picked up knocks this week in training.

They will be able to call upon the services of new signing Joshua Griugi who arrived this week from relegated Premier League side Norwich City.

Shelbourne manager Damien Duff won't be taking anything for granted despite UCD's lowly standing.

"The lads need to be on it from one minute. I was at the Bohs game UCD had and they should have beaten them - it was a strange game," he said.

A faulty sprinkler held up the last meeting of the sides at Belfield in February

"UCD has the freedom of young guys who can go out and express themselves and they smell blood now that they can stay up and what a story that would be so we're absolutely not underestimating them.

"We trained hard last week and the game on Friday was great so we’re prepared despite the two week break. We’ll need the fans tomorrow for sure to help us get through with some of the team patched up but the guys are extremely committed and want to give everything for the club."

UCD are set to welcome back manager Andy Myler and assistant Willie O'Connor after the duo served a ban for their sendings off against Pat's earlier in the month.

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