With Friday’s Dublin Derby taking place on the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, the patron saint of Ireland’s honours went to ...Sat, Mar 17 2018
Fourth in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division plays seventh as Shamrock Rovers welcome Derry City to Tallaght Stadium on Friday night (kick-off 8pm).
Rovers come into this game on the back of a 6-0 thumping of bottom club Bray Wanderers, before last weekend's fixtures were cancelled due to snow.
"It was obviously the right decision [to call off last week's games] and it was good that the League made the decision so early as well,” manager Stephen Bradley told the club's website.
“The week gave us all a chance to plan and not be panicking to try and get training venues and everything else.
“We knew we had a lot of games come the start of the season, in the first 10-12 weeks and this obviously piles another one in midweek. But it's no problem, we get on with it.”
Bradley is still looking for more from his charges even on the back of such an impressive result against the Seagulls on 26th February.
“I don't think Bray was our best performance overall, we've lost games here and played better.
“What was pleasing for me was last year when we had teams there ready to be beaten 3 or 4-0, we didn't take it and we ended up winning 1-0 and having a nervous last five minutes.
“Whereas on Monday we recognised that we had a team that were on the ropes and we went and punished them and really hurt them and we looked like we wanted to score more than six.”
The games will arrive thick and fast over the next few months and Bradley reckons the Rovers set-up is well-geared towards that.
“Our squad is smaller in numbers than it has been for a number of years, but I believe that the quality throughout the squad is the strongest we've had and that showed against Bray.
“We had a tough game against Dundalk on the Friday and then we changed it up on the Monday and didn't look weaker for it. I think that showed that there's nothing between the players in a lot of positions.”
Rovers lost all three league encounters against the Foyle men last year, but Bradley believes his side are better equipped this term.
“Derry will come and play like they always do. They're an attacking threat. They can cause problems going forward, but we believe we can go and hurt them.
“We're a better team than we were last year and if we play to our levels we've got everything to go and win the game.
“A lot of teams last year would have looked at us and said they can hit us on the break. I don't think they can say the same this year.
“I know it's only early, but we have different attributes to our team now. We'll be ready for whatever game plan Derry come with.”
“You can read a lot into results but the games between us really could have gone either way last year.
“When they won 2-0 here it was one of our best performances for 60 minutes, how we dominated the game, we were excellent at times, but we just weren't ruthless at both ends and got punished. I think we're more efficient at both ends of the pitch now.”
Absent for the last two matches, Rovers skipper Ronan Finn is likely to be back in contention for a place against Derry, as Joey O'Brien, but Greg Bolger remains a doubt.
The Candystripes and the Hoops have ground up to make up already so the Tallaght faithful will be expecting plenty of effort as Derry City outfit come to town for their fourth successive away match, as the refurbishment of their Brandywell Stadium is finally nearing completion.
Derry enter this tie buoyed by a battling away win and a clean sheet – 1-0 against Bohemians in arctic-like conditions at Dalymount Park on February 27th.
Ronan Curtis gave Derry a second half lead before Ger Doherty saved a late Eoghan Stoke spot kick to earn Derry a first league win of the campaign.
"It's a very tough start to a busy schedule" suggested manager Kenny Sheils, referring to a run of four matches for the Candystripes in ten days, starting with the away assignment in Tallaght.
"Shamrock Rovers have put together a really strong squad this year and they look sure to be challenging for the title.
“They are difficult to play against, but we have three homes games in a short space of time after this and a positive result would give us momentum going into those."
Frustrated that his team earned no points from their opening two league matches in Waterford and Sligo, Shiels is focused on the showdown in Tallaght, where Derry earned a maximum return las season.
"There is no point in us looking beyond Friday of course and while it will be a big ask, we have shown before that we are well capable of getting a result against anyone."
A calf injury to Chris Turner means the midfielder joins Armin Aganovic, Gavin Peers, John Cofie and David Hopkirk on the Derry injury list.
Referee: Tomás Connolly.
Second half goals from Aaron McEneff and Barry McNamee gave Derry City all three points on the last occasion the sides met in the Premier Division at the Tallaght Stadium, on 4th August 2017.
Shamrock Rovers have failed to keep a clean sheet against Derry City in each of the last eight encounters between the sides. Derry have not lost to Rovers since June 2015, a unbeaten run of seven games, in which the Candystripes have scored first in every match.
The Hoops' last victory over Derry in the league was a 4-1 Tallaght Stadium victory, on 8th June 2015.
Derry hope to be back in their spiritual home at The Brandywell to play Limerick on March 12th. The last meeting between Derry City and Shamrock Rovers at the old Brandywell ended in a 2-2 draw on 27th September 2016. Ronan Curtis was again among the goals, netting two for the Candystripes on that occasion.
Last three league matches: Shamrock Rovers LDW; Derry City LLW.
Shamrock Rovers 8/13; Derry City 4/1; Draw 13/5.
Shamrock Rovers 2 – 1 Derry City
Doubtful: Greg Bolger.
Injured: Chris Turner, Armin Aganovic, Gavin Peers, John Cofie, David Hopkirk.