Five key battles for this weekend

15th November 2023

Shamrock Rovers may have dismissed their Dublin rivals Bohemians last time out in Dalymount in an impressive 2-0 win but we come into this Friday‘s showdown with Bohs still leading the table by four points.

What are the five key battles this weekend? 

Shamrock Rovers may have dismissed their Dublin rivals Bohemians last time out in Dalymount in an impressive 2-0 win but we come into this Friday‘s showdown with Bohs still leading the table by four points. 

As we all know with derbies, form goes out the window and Declan Devine will be hoping this is the case in so far as the form that the defending Champions are in.

Rovers have navigated a tough run of fixtures while only dropping points in a 2-2 draw with Shels and amassing impressive wins over Derry City, Sligo Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic.

If the Hoops can make it two Derby wins from two on Friday night and reduce the gap to just one point - it may be an ominous sign for the rest of the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division.

Fresh from a 5-0 win, however, Bohs will see this as an opportunity to create one of the great derby nights. 

Any win over their long-time rivals is sweet but winning and going seven points clear of them at the top of the league? That’s dreamland stuff for the Dubliners in Red and Black. 

Watch it live on RTÉ2 this Friday night. 

First Division title show down between Galway United and Waterford 

While we have a top of the table clash in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division, the top two promotion rivals come head to head in Eamonn Deacy Park this Friday night with so much on the line. 

Waterford may have thought they let their chance slip on Monday with a surprise home defeat to Wexford but amazingly, Galway blew their chance to extend their lead while also equalling the Men’s First Division consecutive win record with a stunning defeat at the hands of Longford Town.

A full house at Eamonn Deacy Park will hope to put the first hand on the title when the two meet although Waterford will know they must seize this chance to close the gap having already lost 1-0 to the Tribesmen at the RSC earlier this season.

Keith Long and Alan Reynolds came in since then and had enjoyed an strong start to their tenure before the loss on Monday but they will be hoping Ronan Coughlan can refind his free scoring form just in the Knick of time.

A win for either side will give the much needed bounce for momentum needed as we head into the summer. 

Cork City and St Pat’s meet with both in desperate need for the three points. 

Tim Clancy’s departure from the Saints has made all of the headlines this week after the Bank Holiday double round of games but interim boss Jon Daly knows there’s no time to waste as they look to get their search for European football back underway away to Cork City on Friday. 

They face a Cork City side beginning to think they face a fight to stay in the Division they worked so hard to get back into last year and after a double loss in Dublin over the weekend, Colin Healy knows his side will need to use their home advantage to avoid three losses to Dublin clubs in a row. 

He will take heart in the amount of chances his side created in both games against Shels and Bohs but while Ruairi Keating maintains a threat up front, the Rebels will host St Pat’s without Ally Gilchrist who has been an ever present at the back in Turner’s Cross.

The table is beginning to take its first bit of shape between the top, bottom and the mix in between and Cork City will know all too well of the threat of being cut adrift in the play-off position and will need to pick up three points on Friday to begin their ascent. 

Pat’s for their part know they have a squad good enough to compete at the high end of the table and some of the best players in the League. 

Daly’s immediate job now is to get a tune out of Forrester and co and refind the results that had them up to second at one point. 

Sligo Rovers and Dundalk stake their claim for Europe.

Stephen O’Donnell heralded his young side’s win over UCD with local talent at the fore including a stunning strike by Ryan O’Kane.

This marked six points from six for the Lilywhites and though they had come into the Bank Holiday doing a bit of soul searching, they know all of a sudden find themselves in fourth. 

Travelling to Sligo Rovers on Saturday night, they face a much tougher task against an inform Sligo Rovers team featuring the Division’s top scorer Max Mata who can’t seem to stop scoring.

Though they were pleased with their performance in Tallaght on Friday night, John Russell’s Sligo Rovers were delighted to back that up with a big win in Inchicore on Monday as they look to regain their European spot for 2024.

European places will be at a premium this season with a few clubs in contention so far but Saturday night’s clash will give us an indication of where these two sit against eachother.

Sligo won the first meeting of the two dramatically at the death in Oriel Park and two wins from two for the Bit O’ Red will give them the firm upper hand of O’Donnell’s side who are still dealing with injuries.

If Max Mata can grab his tenth goal of the campaign, they will be more than hopeful of doing so. 

Can Shels bounce back in Athlone? 

Having lost away to Wexford Youths last Saturday, reigning SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division Champions Shelbourne are beginning to lose the grip of their title in 2024.

With a repeat of last season‘s FAI Women’s Cup Final on the cards this Saturday night, Noel King knows his side must grab all three points before losing more ground to the sides at the top.

Athlone Town have grabbed some big wins already this season and a win on Saturday night against Shels will not only deal another blow to the Tolka Park side‘s title push but give themselves a lift as they look to go one better than their second place finish in 2023.

The President’s Cup competed between the two of them at the start of the season shows we should expect another tight encounter. 

Shels will have to do so without Irish international Jessie Stapleton who went down in Wexford with an unfortunate injury so this may be the time for Noel King to work his plans earlier for the star player’s departure to West Ham in the summer. 

Having lost a number of player already in the offseason, Shels will need to depend on the core group of Pearl Slattery, Rachel Graham and Noelle Murray to guide their newer faces back to form and a win on Saturday could give the jolt they need to defend their crown. 

Full Fixtures (All live on LOITV unless otherwise stated)

SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division

Friday, 5 May, 19:45

Cork City v St Patrick’s Athletic
Drogheda United v Derry City
Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians - Live on RTÉ2 television
Shelbourne v UCD 

Saturday, 6 May, 19:45

Sligo Rovers v Dundalk 

SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division

Friday, 5 May, 19:45

Cobh Ramblers v Finn Harps
Galway United v Waterford 
Kerry v Longford 
Treaty United v Athlone Town
Wexford v Bray Wanderers 

SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division

Saturday, 6 May

Bohemians v Sligo Rovers, 15:00
DLR Waves v Wexford Youths, 16:00
Galway United v Treaty United, 17:00
Shamrock Rovers v Cork City, 17:30
Athlone Town v Shelbourne, 19:00