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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 20 May, 2018

5 reasons why you should be watching the League of Ireland this weekend

The Bit O’Red take on the Hoops, Derry welcome St Pat’s to the Brandywell and Cork City are on the road.

INPHO/Morgan Treacy
INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Image: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

1. LOI back on Friday night TV

MUCH HAS BEEN made about RTE’s decision to show live games on Saturday and Sunday afternoons as opposed to the usual Friday night spot with columnist Stuey Byrne arguing last week that they “lack atmosphere”.

While featuring in the televised match was once seen as something to be proud of, clubs are now wary that it will result in lower attendances and, in turn, gate receipts.

Tonight sees the Friday night slot return as Shamrock Rovers host Sligo Rovers. The Hoops have one of the largest fan bases in the country but how many fans from both sides will opt to tune in from the couch?

2. Hoops hope to retain top spot

Last season’s cup winners and the two clubs to win the Premier Division prior to St Pat’s, Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers, face off at Tallaght Stadium this evening.

One of four clubs unbeaten in the first three league fixtures, the Hoops go into the game sitting top of the table and level on seven points with Cork City.

That said, they did suffer defeat as recently as Monday when Dundalk came away from the Setanta Sports Cup semi-final first leg with a 2-1 win.

Sligo, with one win and two defeats so far, have also been on the losing side against the Lilywhites in the past week.

3. Things going well for Rebels

A positive start to the 2014 campaign under John Caulfield means morale is high on Leeside at present.

They have picked up two wins on the bounce after the opening day draw with St Pat’s and travel to the midlands where newly-promoted Athlone Town await.

Micke Cooke’s Athlone are bottom of the table and still yet to get off the mark but the Rebels boss says there is no room for complacency at Lissywollen.

“If we play at our best, I believe we will win the match, but if we’re not, then we will drop points,” said Caulfield. “Athlone will have nothing to lose; they will come out and have a go at us. We need to start well, react well and make sure we keep our composure.”

4. Roddy remains resilient

With criticism from former club captain Kevin Deery and talk of dressing room unrest, Roddy Collins has endured a difficult week as Derry City manager.

With two points from a possible nine, the Candystripes will be looking to pick up at least one more when champions St Patrick’s Athletic visit the Brandywell and Collins says he is happy with the work put in by players recently.

“Coming off the back of what was a really good performance last weekend against Drogheda United, we have had a great week in training this week,” Collins told the club’s website. “I expect another very tight and competitive game on Friday evening.”

5. Can Lims build on strong showing?

Limerick fans will have been encouraged by their performance at Richmond Park on Saturday after they held the current champions to a 1-1 draw.

Stand-in goalkeeper Barry Ryan and centre half pairing Sam Oji and Stephen Folan were excellent on the day while captain Shane Duggan and goalscorer James McGrath also put in solid shifts.

Still in search of a first win, Stuart Taylor’s men welcome his former club Drogheda United to Thomand Park tonight.

SSE Airtricity League fixtures (all kick-offs Friday 7.45pm unless stated)

Premier Division

  • Shamrock Rovers v Sligo Rovers  (7.05pm, live on RTE 2)
  • Athlone Town v Cork City
  • Bray Wanderers v UCD
  • Derry City v St Patrick’s Athletic
  • Dundalk v Bohemian
  • Limerick v Drogheda United

First Division

  • Waterford United v Wexford Youths
  • Cobh Ramblers v Longford Town (Saturday, 7.45pm)
  • Finn Harps v Galway (Saturday, 7.45pm)
  • Shamrock Rovers v Shelbourne (Sunday, 3pm)

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Ben Blake

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