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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 17 October, 2018
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5 reasons to watch the League of Ireland this weekend

Can Pat Fenlon spark an instant upturn in fortunes for Shamrock Rovers or will his old club Derry spoil the party?

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Updated at 13.56

1. The Nutsy Professor

Pat Fenlon’s back and aiming to qualify Shamrock Rovers for Europe again. He’s got a battle on his hands though with the season two-thirds complete and the Tallaght-based outfit three points from third-place.

Derry visit on Friday – a club Fenlon managed briefly in 2007.  There’s a gap of ten points separating the two teams but Fenlon will certainly not want the Northerners to claim a victory and give themselves renewed hope of a late-season surge up the table, especially considering Derry have a game in hand.

Earlier this week, the Hoops responded to that thumping defeat to Limerick (and Trevor Croly’s subsequent departure) by securing a place in this year’s EA Sports Cup final so confidence should be slowly coming back.

2. Can City bounce back?

After such a bitter defeat to Dundalk in front of a bumper home crowd, it’s imperative that Cork City respond immediately and get the better of reigning champions St. Pats. Again, the fixture is at Turners Cross and City will be fired up to give their fans something to cheer about after such a disappointing finale last time out.

John Caulfiled argues with fourth official Graham Kelly Cork City boss John Caulfield needs a decent result on Friday against St. Pat's to ease the tensions around the club. Source: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

The alternative is frightening: losing back-to-back league games on home soil is not the form of champions and another setback would surely put paid to their league hopes. But, the reality is that City’s home form has been terrific this season.  From a head-to-head perspective, Pats have the better record this season and racked up a thrilling and dramatic 3-2 win at Richmond Park in May. It’s going to be tough for City but a win is crucial.

3. Can Bohs get things together again?   

It was a hugely disappointing week for Owen Heary’s side. A 4-0 league defeat to Derry was followed up with a 2-0 Cup semi-final loss to local rivals Shamrock Rovers. Desperate for a top-half finish, they’re currently five points back from sixth-placed Sligo and are eyeing the next two fixtures against UCD on Friday and Drogheda as must-win games.

The Students suffered a thirteenth league defeat of the season last weekend against Drogheda, shipping four goals in the process. With just five points separating UCD from basement club Athlone, former Bohs’ boss Aaron Callaghan can’t afford to see his team continue to drop points.

4. Will Rico continue his fine start at Drogheda?

Gary O'Neill and John Dunleavy Drogheda will look to the in-form Gary O'Neil to lead them to a victory over local rivals Dundalk. Source: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Certainly, UCD weren’t the toughest competition but Damien Richardson’s return to League of Ireland management last weekend couldn’t really have gone any better as the Drogs, inspired by Gary O’Neil, secured a 4-0 victory.

Looking at tasty sub-plots, could Rico derail Dundalk’s league ambitions in Friday night’s local derby and inadvertently assist his former club Cork City in their quest to win another championship? Has John Caulfield been on the phone to his ex-manager? An intriguing clash set for United Park.

5. Ch-ch-changes at Sligo

Sligo released many of their high-earners in recent weeks though they did sign Eamonn Zayed on loan until  the end of the season. The raft of alterations didn’t have an immediate effect though Sligo ran St. Pat’s very close last weekend, going down to a slender 1-0 defeat.

They’ll be hoping to instil some confidence in the new strategy with a win over Athlone, who themselves will look at UCD and Bray’s worrying form as motivation in their quest to avoid the drop.

Premier Division 

Friday

  • Cork City v St. Patrick’s Athletic (7.45)
  • UCD v Bohemian FC (7.45)
  • Drogheda United v Dundalk (8.00)
  • Shamrock Rovers v Derry City (8.00)

Saturday

  • Sligo Rovers v Athlone Town (7.45)

First Division

Friday

  • Waterford United v Shamrock Rovers (7.45)
  • Wexford Youths v Galway FC (8.00)
  • Shelbourne v Cobh Ramblers (8.00)

Saturday 

  • Longford Town v Finn Harps (7.30)

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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