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Dublin: 21 °C Tuesday 23 July, 2019

'They’ve shown this year already that they’re more than a match for anybody in the league'

Here’s what’s on the menu tonight in the SSE Airtricity League.

OWING TO U21 international commitments, a couple of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division fixtures scheduled for this evening have been postponed.

However, both of the sides involved in the title race are in action. Leaders Dundalk travel to play Finn Harps, with Shamrock Rovers playing host to Derry City. Tonight’s other game is the meeting of Sligo Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic at The Showgrounds.

Stephen Bradley Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley watches on during their win against Derry City in April. Source: Evan Logan/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers trail Dundalk by three points, but they do have a game in hand to spare over the champions. The Hoops will be aiming for a third consecutive victory (and clean sheet) when Derry visit Tallaght Stadium this evening.

Rovers were 2-0 winners in the corresponding fixture earlier in the campaign. Aaron Greene’s goal then separated the sides when they met at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium in April, so Stephen Bradley’s men will be aiming to make it three wins in a row against the Candystripes in 2019.

Sean Kavanagh is expected to return for Rovers, but injury will rule Aaron McEneff out of facing his former club. A decision on the involvement of Dylan Watts and Sam Bone will be made closer to kick-off. 

“They’ve shown this year already that they’re more than a match for anybody in the league,” Rovers boss Bradley said of tonight’s opponents. “They’ll definitely come down to Tallaght and try to take three points. But we believe we’re ready. We’re focused to go and try and win the game.

“They’ll come with a game plan and we’ve got to respect what they’re good at, but we’ll focus on what we’re doing really well. We’ve got to make sure we drive that home and get more points on the board.”

Fourth-placed Derry City are four points behind Bohemians in third, but they too have played a game less than the team immediately above them. In their last Premier Division outing, Derry ended a five-game winless run with a 4-0 trouncing of neighbours Finn Harps.

Ronan Finn and Jamie McDonagh Derry City's Jamie McDonagh and Ronan Finn of Shamrock Rovers battling for possession. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Rovers are a quality side and they’re a seriously tough nut to crack, especially at home, but these are the type of challenges we have to relish,” said Derry City manager Declan Devine, who’ll be without the services of injured duo Patrick McClean and Michael McCrudden, while Darren Cole is rated as doubtful.

Ballybofey is the venue for the clash of the division’s top and bottom sides. However, having been held to a draw away to Finn Harps earlier in the season, Dundalk are unlikely to be complacent when they return to Finn Park this evening.

“Going up to Finn Park is always very tricky and tough. Harps are always tough so we expect nothing less again this time,” said Dundalk striker Georgie Kelly.

“We were up there earlier in the season, conditions were tough and they ground out a result, so hopefully on Saturday we can dig deep and take the three points. That’s the main goal.

“The performance mightn’t be too pretty and it’s going to be a tough battle, but at the end of the day once we get the three points then we’ll be delighted.”

Dundalk take a 12-game unbeaten run into the fixture. Having moved off the bottom last month as they avoided defeat for four consecutive games, Harps are back at the foot of the table after losing their last three league matches. 

Georgie Kelly celebrates after the game Dundalk's Georgie Kelly: 'Harps are always tough so we expect nothing less again this time.' Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It would be great if we could repeat the draw that we got back in February,” said Finn Harps boss Ollie Horgan. “Dundalk weren’t at their best for a while back then but they have been in really great form recently so we know what is ahead of us.

“We have worked hard this week to be ready, so it’s a case now of delivering the best performance possible. At the same time, we’d hope that Dundalk are not at their best and a little bit of luck would be welcome as well.”

Elsewhere, sixth-placed Sligo Rovers will have to plan without Dante Leverock — who’s on Gold Cup duty with Bermuda — when they face a St Patrick’s Athletic side who have already beaten them twice this season. 

Fifth-placed Pat’s, who are three points clear of Sligo, will be buoyed by Simon Madden’s last-gasp equaliser against Cork City last weekend. The Bit O’ Red, meanwhile, had their seven-match undefeated run ended by Dundalk, who were 4-0 winners at Oriel Park.

There’s also a full programme of First Division fixtures, the pick of which sees leaders Shelbourne make the short journey to the Carlisle Grounds to take on Bray Wanderers.

Today’s fixtures

Premier Division

Shamrock Rovers v Derry City (7.00pm)
Sligo Rovers v St Patrick’s Athletic (7.45pm)
Finn Harps v Dundalk (8.00pm)

First Division

Bray Wanderers v Shelbourne (3.00pm)
Drogheda United v Athlone Town (5.00pm)
Limerick v Galway United (6.30pm)
Cabinteely v Cobh Ramblers (7.00pm)
Longford Town v Wexford (7.30pm)

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