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5 things to look out for in tonight's Airtricity League games
With five games in the Premier Division and three in the First, there’s plenty of domestic football to keep tabs on tonight.

1. Can Derry keep in touch?

It’s still early days in the season but with their free-scoring forwards and mean defence,  champions Sligo Rovers are already threatening to open up the kind of points gap that could be very difficult to bridge later on.

Declan Devine’s Derry City are next best and with Sligo not in action until tomorrow, they can close the gap to just two points with a win against Bohemians in tonight’s televised game.

The Candystripes’ young guns have been in scorching form, not least Michael Rafter who already has five goals since his move from Dundalk. But the bobbly Dalymount pitch hasn’t been the easiest test for visiting sides and the result will likely hinge on how Devine’s men deal with the challenge.

2. A chance for Pat’s to find their goal-den touch

An inconsistent start and some bad luck with the weather have combined to leave St Patrick’s Athletic with just four points so far. The Inchicore side have two games in hand over the majority of the league so their position isn’t overly worrying yet, but Saints fans will be slightly concerned by their inability to find the net. Pat’s have only scored three goals, one of those coming from the penalty spot thanks to Killian Brennan.

Only struggling UCD have conceded more than Bray so far this season so tonight’s trip to the seaside looks to be a perfect chance for Liam Buckley’s men to find their touch and kick-start a move up the table.

3. Late lapses costing City

In each of their last three games, late goals have cost Cork City dearly. After losing to a Rory Patterson goal against Derry, Cork’s 10 men were sucker punched by a Shamrock Rovers equaliser in stoppage time last week and again saw their three points snatched away by a Fabio O’Brien penalty on Monday.

If games only lasted 85 minutes Cork would already be five points better off this season but barring a special dispensation in the rules, Tommy Dunne will have to find a way to maintain his side’s concentration so that they can get the rewards their overall performances deserve.

4. Surprise packages clash in Oriel

Even with an accomplished manager like Stephen Kenny at the helm, few would have expected to see Dundalk riding high in third after their first six games of the season. Unusually it is the Lilywhites’ home form that has let them down (two points from a possible nine) and so they will have their work cut out for them against a Limerick side who have similarly surprised on their return to the top flight.

Lims’ only win so far was at home to UCD but draws against Cork, Drogheda and most recently Shamrock Rovers have shown that they will be a tough side to break down this season. Tonight will be an excellent test of both sides’ credentials and may well hint at their respective trajectories in the weeks to come.

5. Night of the nailed-on draw in Tallaght?

Shamrock Rovers have drawn five of their six games so far; Drogheda United have drawn four of theirs. If we were gambling men, we know where our money would be.

Airtricity League fixtures (all Friday, 7.45pm unless stated)

Premier Division

  • Bohemians v Derry City (Friday, 7.05pm)
  • Bray Wanderers v St. Patrick’s Athletic
  • Cork City v UCD
  • Dundalk v Limerick
  • Shamrock Rovers v Drogheda United (Friday, 8pm)
  • Sligo Rovers v Shelbourne (Saturday, 7.45pm)

First Division

  • Salthill Devon v Cobh Ramblers
  • Waterford United v Athlone Town
  • Finn Harps v Wexford Youths (Friday, 8pm)
  • Longford Town v Mervue United (Saturday, 7.30pm)

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