Tonight sees all 12 of the Premier Divisions sides plus four more from the second tier involved in action. Our feature game will be the meeting of fifth-placed Derry City and St Patrick’s Athletic, who sit five points and one position ahead of them. Kick off is just over 30 minutes away.
The Candystripes come into this one with an understrength squad and will have to do without the likes of Shane McEleney, Rory Patterson, Stewart Greacen and Owen Morrison through injury while Stephen McLaughlin, Mark Farren and Kevin Deery are touch and go. They drew 1-1 with champions Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght last week but haven’t recorded a win in the league now for six weeks.
Manager Declan Devine’s pre-match thoughts:
We have to pick ourselves up again this week and get to the level of passion and commitment we showed last Friday night.
So far this season we haven’t utilised the home support and the advantage that gives us, but we must use it to our adavantage against St Pat’s.”
Pat’s, meanwhile, drew 1-1 with Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds last Friday and could climb as high as second if results go there way tonight.
Captain Ger O’Brien says:
It’s going to be another tough trip this Friday against Derry. I know they’re missing a few players, but they’ve still got a really good squad and it’s never an easy place to go to, especially as they are playing really well too.
So we’ll have to make sure we play like we have in the past few weeks, because if we do that, I think we have a chance.”
RTE pundit and former Saints boss Pat Dolan is clearly a fan of the Liam Buckley era: “They’re seducing me, they’re delicious,” he tells Peter Collins.
Derry City: Doherty, McBride, McCaffrey, McCallion, McNamee, Higgins, Madden, McLaughlin, Molloy, McDaid, Patterson. Subs: Barrm Bonner, Curran, Crossan, Ferry, S McEleney, McGroary.
St Pat’s: Clarke, Bermingham, Browne, Kenna, O’Brien, Bolger, Forrester, O’Connor, Rossiter, Russell, Fagan. Subs: Carroll, Daly, Flynn, J Kelly, D Kelly, Meenan, Murphy.
So Patterson and McLaughlin are fit enough to start while Mark Rossiter and Sean O’Connor come in for James Chambers and Jake Kelly.
And we’ve just kicked off. Looks a decent evening in Derry but there seems to be a considerable breeze.
Rossiter has taken a knock to the knee and won’t last five minutes here. He’s is helped off as Darren Meenan prepares to take his place. Derry waste a promising free-kick, meanwhile.
Meenan is on and Chris Forrester has Pats’ first shot on target after being put through by Christy Fagan. The strike is fairly central, however, and Ger Doherty pulls off a routine save.
The Dubliners are getting some joy down both flanks and a couple of clearances are needed from Derry’s centre-halves when crosses come in.
As I write that, McDaid so nearly finds the top corner down the opposite end but is kept out brilliantly by Clarke.
Declan Devine evidently unhappy with how deep his men are sitting. “Press the ball. Get up, get up!” he can be heard shouting from the sideline.
Free-kick for Pat’s 25 yards out and O’Connor’s attempt at goal is poor. Doherty collects.
Higgins and Russell come together in the Derry box after Forrester looks to thread a pass through to his team-mate but it’s never a penalty and the referee rightly plays on.
Derry bring players up for a free-kick and Higgins whips it in with pace. An attacking player gets the slightest of nods onto the delivery but can only send it a couple of yards wide of Clarke’s post. Decent chance though.
It’s gone 7.45, which means five more of the eight matches have started. Five minutes remain here.
Productive run by Russell, who gets down the left and is tracked by McBride. He wins his team a corner, but it amounts to nothing.
RTE’s cameras pick out Mark Rossiter exiting on crutches. Bad night for the former Bohemians man.
GOAL! Derry City 0-1 St Pat’s (Darren Meenan)
Disastrous time for the Candystripes to concede as right on the 45-minute mark, the substitute takes a gamble on a deep cross from O’Brien to the back post and steers his header beyond Doherty and into the net.
Half-time: Derry City 0-1 St Pat’s
Saints striker Christy Fagan and Eddie McCallion of Derry. Credit: INPHO/Margaret McLaughlin
GOALS! Cork City 1-1 Dundalk (Davin O’Neill and Michael Rafter)
Two goals early on at Turner’s Cross – O’Neill puts the Rebels ahead before Rafter level it up with less than eight minutes played.
GOAL! Drogheda United 0-1 Sligo Rovers (Gavin Peers)
The Bit O’Red defender heads home after a Jason McGuinness effort is initially kept out.
GOALS! Cork City 2-2 Dundalk (Gary Shanahan and Davin O’Neill)
Incredibly, there have been two more in as many minutes.
Second half starts in Derry and if the hosts don’t improve on their showing so far, they’re likely to fall further behind.
GOAL! Bray Wanderers 1-0 Bohemians (Jason Byrne)
One of the league’s legendary hitmen finds the target against his former team at the Carlisle Grounds.
GOAL! Shamrock Rovers 1-0 UCD (Billy Dennehy)
The Hoops winger puts them a goal ahead from a free-kick.
What a chance for the Saints to double their lead. Fagan finds himself with acres of space to run into and just Doherty to beat. The Derry keeper seems to show the former Manchester United youth the whole of the left side of the goal.
Fagan’s strike is in that direction but far too close to Doherty who gets down to smother. The current goalkeeper of the year then keeps out a shot from the edge of the box moments later.
McNamee and McCallion have both been withdrawn for Shane McEleney and Brian McGroary as Devine hopes to shake things up.
GOAL! Bray 1-1 Bohemians (Dinny Corcoran)
The Gypsies are level as Keith Ward crosses after his corner comes back out and Corcoran heads past Darren Quigley.
GOAL! Drogheda United 0-2 Sligo Rovers (Danny North)
The in-form centre forward directs Ross Gaynor’s cross and the league leaders are looking good for another three points.
GOAL! Derry City 0-2 St Pat’s (Sean O’Connor)
Former Shamrock Rovers winger O’Connor steps inside onto his left and tries his luck from 20 yards. The ball hops awkwardly off the ground and hits the shins of Doherty before bouncing over the line. You’d expect better from him.
GOAL! Drogheda United 1-2 Sligo Rovers (Declan O’Brien)
Fabio has narrowed the deficit for the home side at Hunk Doreys Park.
Derry produce a rare opportunity to get on the scoresheet – a series of passes sees the ball travel across the 18-yard line and a high cross falls under Clarke, who is put under pressure by McLaughlin. The forward puts his hands on his opponent’s shoulders but isn’t penalised and the ball fortunately stays out.
Skipper Barry Molloy has been cautioned while Buckley has taken off Christy Fagan for Ian Daly.
GOAL! Shamrock Rovers 2-0 UCD (Daryl Kavanagh)
Super striker from Kavanagh from distance and Rovers are good value for their two-nil lead.
Ryan Curran is the final player to make an entrance for Derry and Pat’s goalscorer O’Connor has done his bit for the night and is replaced by Jake Kelly. Eight minutes of normal time left to play.
We’re into time added on and Pat’s have seen out this second half with relative comfort.
GOAL! Cork City 3-2 Dundalk (Vinny Sullivan)
Sullivan’s header beats McNulty as the Leesiders go ahead for the second time tonight.
Full-time: Derry City 0-2 St Pat’s
GOAL! Shelbourne 0-1 Monaghan United (Willie McDonagh)
Could be a big goal for the Rod Squad if they can hold out after McDonagh puts them in the lead from a penalty.
GOAL! Shamrock Rovers 2-1 UCD (Graham Rusk)
The Students are only a goal behind thanks to Rusk, who dispatches his spot-kick past Oscar Jansson.
GOAL! Shelbourne 1-1 Monaghan United (Paddy Kavanagh)
Obviously spoke too soon. Shels are back level and it’s Kavanagh on the hour-mark.
GOAL! Bray Wanderers 2-1 Bohemians (Danny O’Connor)
The Seagulls take the lead with a half hour remaining.
GOAL! Drogheda 1-3 Sligo Rovers (Danny North)
Second of the night for North with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Full-time: Cork City 3-2 Dundalk
Full-time: Drogheda United 1-3 Sligo Rovers
Full-time: Bray Wanderers 2-1 Bohemians
GOAL & Full-time: Shamrock Rovers 2-2 UCD (Paul O’Conor)
Rovers have slipped up big time by letting go of that lead to draw at home.
GOAL & Full-time: Shelbourne 2-1 Monaghan United (Dave Cassidy)
The home team clinch a last minute goal at Tolka to deny the league’s basement club.
That’s the games done and dusted but make sure to pop back shortly for a round-up of all tonight’s thrills and spills.