It has been six weeks since four SSE Airtricity Premier Division matches were held on a Friday night.

With Europe dominating proceedings, thoughts will slowly switch back towards domestic action and there are some mammoth games tonight.

Derry City can put themselves into a position to challenge for the title as they welcome Shamrock Rovers to the Brandywell, fresh from their group stage qualification.

With the Hoops playing last Tuesday and their play-off game not beginning until next Thursday, it has given the league an opportunity to play out a crucial game at the top of the table.

Elsewhere Dundlak will look to take advantage of the team above and below them clashing tonight.

They travel to Dalymount Park to take on a Bohemians team still sore from their surprise loss in Sligo last week after taking a one-goal lead.

There are also two massive games at the bottom, with Finn Harps hosting UCD in a pivotal fixture in the race to avoid automatic relegation.

Harps finally had something to cheer last week and they were stylish in their victory over Drogheda.

United host a well-rested Shelbourne side after a controversial postponement last week.

Shels are real contenders for Europe, sitting just five points off fourth with some games to play, while Drogs will be conscious they could be sucked closer to the bottom two positions again.

Every fixture has a great deal riding on it tonight with a number of positional changes possible at the end of the night.

Derry City v Shamrock Rovers, Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium, 7.45pm

Shamrock Rovers sought to have this game postponed or deferred to later in the week but Derry City insisted it be played tonight.

Given its importance, it's no surprise. The Candystripes wobbled for the second series of fixtures and more but are finding form again.

Patrick Hoban’s superb header denied them a big win in Dundalk, and how crucial that was given holding out would have put them even more firmly in the picture.

The Hoops will face a schedule of two games a week for the rest of the season with the group stage campaign to come, so Derry, with just domestic matters to focus on, will certainly feel they can profit.

The Brandywell was rocking when Jamie McGonigle won the first game between the teams in front of the RTÉ cameras, while they were hugely impressive in defeat in the return fixture.

That result signalled Derry’s downfall. It feels as if a win here could have the oppositive impact.

Speaking ahead of the game, Ruaidhri Higgins does not feel believe the visitors will be adversely affected by their midweek Europa League journey.

"If anything I'd imagine they'll come here in confident mood having secured a group stage place in one or other of the competitions.

"It's a fantastic result for Shamrock Rovers and it's good for our league as well.

"We've prepared well this week and we're looking forward to the game.

"We're in decent form ourselves- that late equaliser in Dundalk on Friday night the only points we've dropped in our last four outings.

"There's been very little between these two teams in our matches so far and I don't imagine it will be any different this time.

Will Patching is very close to a return and could feature.

Nathan Gartside has left the Brandywell this week to join Cliftonville.

Bohemians v Dundalk, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

With a quirk of the fixture programme Dundalk will begin a run of four successive away games on Friday night when they make the trip to the capital to face Bohemians at Dalymount Park.

The Lilywhites are quite aware than not only do their fellow title contenders clash tonight, but there are also key fixtures in the race for Europe.

"St Pat's are also playing Sligo on Sunday so it will be a good weekend," said Dundalk head coach Stephen O’Donnell. "I think it fell like this earlier in the season as well when the teams in the top half all played against each other. We just have to focus on ourselves, not necessarily the result, on the performance and the application."

Both matches so far this season have yielded four goals.

A 2-2 draw in Dalymount was followed by a 3-1 win in Oriel Park for the Lilywhites as part of their magnificent home record.

O’Donnell is aware Bohs will make more changes after overhauling their squad and shipping goals to Sligo Rovers to fall to defeat last week.

"It’s a little bit tricky to get a handle on what their starting XI will be, especially after them losing to Sligo last week, but we’ll try and work it out as best we can and then we’ll look after ourselves.

"The players are well aware of the individuals that have come in. A lot of them would have been watching the game last Sunday and will be well aware of them but we’ll be more focused on ourselves and how we go about things.

"They have lots of good offensive players. Bohs are always a team that is capable of beating anyone. With their ability, they feel like they can go toe-to-toe with anyone.

"I don’t think the players can do anymore in regards to working hard for the club and the supporters. I think the supporters see that and hopefully, they can reciprocate them Friday night and cheer them on."

UCD v Finn Harps, UCD Bowl, 7.45pm

With over €5 million coming into the league in the last few weeks through UEFA prize money, and a bustling group of teams aiming to qualify for Europe next year trying to get another piece of that pie, spare a thought for the teams scrapping at the bottom.

Finn Harps saw their squad decimated in the off-season and it's been recovery mode ever since. Ollie Horgan promised changes in the summer and they certainly worked last week.

Eric McWoods has been one of the more impressive performers for Harps this year. His two goals were reward for a long season of hard work.

Last week gave Harps hope and manager Ollie Horgan has called on his players to build on it.

Horgan said: "We were much improved last time out and got our rewards with a good win, but it doesn’t count for much if we can’t follow that up with another strong performance on Friday night.

"UCD has always been a very tough place to go during my time and I’d expect nothing different this time around. They’re a young side but they’re hungry and very, very talented. We know well that the likes of Sam Todd and Michael Gallagher bring to the table from their time with us.

"It’s a massive game, there is no point pretending otherwise. We just need to make sure we come away with a result."

In team news David Webster misses out through injury, while Liam McGing, Elie-Gael N’Zeyi, Ryan Rainey and Ethan Boyle are doubts.

A win away from home would move Harps five points clear of the rivals.

The Students will certainly feel they can’t afford to lose this clash. They've shown their mettle but have yet to register three points at the Bowl in 2022.

This would be the perfect time to start.

Drogheda United v Shelbourne, Head in the Game Park, 7.45pm

There's no doubt Shelbourne will try to use their backlog as firstly motivation and secondly a chance to use their growing experience as advantage.

Shels have improved with a largely new squad in Damien Duff’s first season and they are well-placed to have a pop at finishing in the top half or better.

The last time the Reds were in SSE Airtricity League action was July 22, when they defeated UCD 2-0 away from home.

The visit of St Patrick’s Athletic to Tolka Park last Sunday was cancelled on Friday, with the Saints failing to fulfil the fixture owing to travel issues.

New signing Matty Smith, a real coup after being deemed surplus to requirements at Derry City, made an instant impact in the 3-0 win over Bray Wanderers in the first round of the FAI Cup.

The the Scottish attacker registered a clever assist for Jack Moylan on what was a perfect debut.

Duff said: "Matty has been brilliant, he settled well with the lads and the week’s training will stand to him. He knows Shane Griffin from his time at Pats, he knows what we’re about here.

"I told Matty when he signed, I’ll never put him under pressure for goals and assists, I want to see energy, work rate and pressing from him, when we don’t have the ball, pressure opponents and defend from the front.

"I was happy with Matty’s contribution in Bray, he showed his quality and managed to get that assist."

Duff said of Drogheda: "It’ll be a tough game, they’re a decent side, nobody waltzes out of their place with 3 points easily. We have to work hard and earn the right to compete against them.

"They’ll want a response from their last game, they’ll want to react positively to that defeat, maybe there’ll be some players with a point to prove, there’s a few ex-Shels lads at the club, they might want to prove me wrong for letting them go, we know they’ll be up for it, and we have to match that.

"We’ve trained well this week, in testing conditions, the heat has been tough on the players. We know Drogheda will bring an intensity and we’ll need to be ready for that.