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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 21 January, 2019

5 reasons to watch the League of Ireland this weekend

Tonight, we’ve got the final round of games before the mid-season break.

Dundalk's Paddy Hoban with Derek Foran of St Pat's.
Dundalk's Paddy Hoban with Derek Foran of St Pat's.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

1. Clash of two title contenders

AFTER KNOCKING HOLDERS Sligo Rovers out of the FAI Cup last weekend, Premier Division leaders Dundalk are back in league action against last season’s champions St Patrick’s Athletic.

The Lilywhites are six points clear of tonight’s opponents and won out convincingly last time the clubs met — a 4-1 victory at Richmond Park in April.

The home side are still without injured captain Stephen O’Donnell, while Paddy Hoban and Keith Ward are also sidelined and Andy Boyle is suspended.

For Pat’s, defender Sean Hoare is absent after injuring himself in the win over Leinster Senior League side St Pat’s CY.

2. Rebels on the road

At Tallaght Stadium, it’s second versus fourth with Cork City making the trip to Dublin to take on Shamrock Rovers.

The Rebels arrive on the back of four straight wins in the league and a 6-0 hammering of St Mochta’s in the FAI Cup.

After the derby draw with Bohemians, Rovers got the better of Sligo Rovers a fortnight ago and have since seen off AUL heavyweights Sheriff YC 4-0 at Tolka Park.

3. Bit O’Red face Candystripes

Sligo will look to bounce back after being dumped out of the FAI Cup at the second round last time out.

They’re on a run of three defeats going into their game with Derry City, five points below them in eighth, at the Showgrounds this evening.

We’re looking for a reaction and there is only one way to get that with three points,” Sligo manager Ian Baraclough said.

“Sides above us will drop points on Friday but that’s not really a concern at this moment in time, it can’t be because we have to starting winning matches. It won’t matter if we don’t win our game so that can be our only focus.”

4. Can Limerick continue to climb?

Limerick have put a string of good results together in recent weeks and find themselves sixth in the table going into their fixture with UCD at Thomond Park.

However, they made an early exit from the FAI Cup after going down to Bohemians last Saturday.

“It was one of those days where we had a bad day at the office,” explained Limerick boss Stuart Taylor.

“We’ll be looking to make amends on Friday night against UCD. The league is our bread and butter and we need to make sure that we get back on form because the league campaign is everything for us.”

5. Seagulls host Bohs

Second-from-bottom Bohemians are aiming to leapfrog UCD before the break with a win over Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds.

The Gypsies had an encouraging result in the cup win over Limerick and manager Owen Heary insists this is an even bigger game.

“We need to take our cup form into the league. If I had to choose, I’d take three points on Friday. This is just as big, if not bigger, than last week’s game.

“I hope we can take last week’s hard work into the Bray game. We’re not conceding many goals and, if we can take our scoring chances, we will move up the table.”

Premier Division

(all 7.45pm unless stated otherwise)

  • Athlone v Drogheda
  • Bray v Bohemians
  • Dundalk v St Pat’s
  • Limerick v UCD
  • Sligo v Derry
  • Shamrock Rovers v Cork (8pm)

First Division

  • Cobh Ramblers v Shelbourne
  • Galway v Wexford Youths
  • Finn Harps v Longfor (8pm)

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Ben Blake

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