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Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 26 May, 2019
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League of Ireland preview: Gypsies on a roll

Alan Smith previews the weekend’s League of Ireland action, starting with Bohemians’ trip to Oriel Park.

Image: Inpho

THE PICK OF series three comes at Oriel Park tonight where goals are expected. Dundalk entertain early pacesetters Bohemians (kick-off 7.45pm).

Pat Fenlon’s team travel to Louth after a solid start, despite initial fears they might struggle after off-the-field problems dominated their build-up to the season.

The consensus now, however, is that Fenlon’s status will be elevated from legendary to the greatest manager in Irish football if he can keep this group of players near the top of the table.

While it has been mentioned before, Dundalk will be involved in many high-scoring thrillers this season, and after last weekend’s 3-2 win over Galway United, the Lilywhites’ fans can expect another fascinating 90 minutes at home tonight.  They were of course defeated by Shamrock Rovers on the opening night, so a win at home to the other member of the capital’s ‘Big Two’ will be imperative if they want to keep up with the favourites.

Speaking of Rovers, they face a possibly sticky Dublin derby against St. Pat’s at Tallaght, where the away side will be looking to vent some personal anger after they threw away a two-goal lead last weekend, succumbing to a 3-2 defeat at home to Bray. Pete Mahon is expected to return to the Pat’s dugout after missing out last week due to personal reasons, although his team will find it difficult against the Hoops.

Rovers have started the year in solid fashion – defeating a 10-man Dundalk outfit with ease, before going to the cauldron-like Showgrounds in Sligo last week and taking the points home, to move joint-top with the Gypsies. It’s difficult to see them do anything other than pick up all three points this evening, against a St Pat’s side that appear to be lacking that extra bit of mettle needed to succeed with the top sides.

Sligo, meanwhile, should get back to winning ways as they travel across to Bray, who will be in confident mood after their spectacular comeback at Inchicore last Friday night. The Bit O’Red gave a good account of themselves against the champions on Saturday but failed to score, although they will still fancy themselves to notch their second win of the season on the road against Pat Devlin’s improving team.

Northern lights

Derry City were quite impressive away to UCD in round two, and they should win again away from the Brandywell when they face Drogheda United at Hunky Dory Park. While there were some positives from Drogs’ performance last week, Mick Cooke still has a lot of work to do, so the Candystripes get the nod here.

Galway United and UCD finish off the Premier Division fixtures, and the Students will be hoping for an improved performance after last week’s disappointment at Belfield. Martin Russell has his team playing some excellent football, but their home patch is in awful condition, denying them any opportunity to pass the ball along the deck, so they’ll be hoping for a better surface at Terryland Park.

Galway were three minutes from getting a point away to Dundalk last weekend, so a wise betting-man would edge towards the draw in the most difficult game of the weekend to predict.

While the table matters for very little at the moment, there’s an early top of the table clash in the First Division as Limerick travel to Cork City, with a host of names absent. Pat Scully’s side will still have enough to come away with a point, though, after easing past Salthill at Jackman Park last time out.

Shelbourne will be champing at the bit after having a bye last weekend, so they look very likely to take the points against Wexford Youths at Tolka Park. Waterford United have a rest, while Monaghan United under Roddy Collins will be travelling to Ballybofey looking to keep the 100% record preserved.

On Saturday night there are two games down for decision, with Salthill entertaining Athlone Town , while Longford will be hoping to halt an impressive start to the campaign from Mervue United – who are joint top with Limerick and Cork after two games.

Read more of TheScore.ie’s League of Ireland coverage here >

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