The Hoops were tipped by many as outside title contenders at the beginning of this season and have delivered on that prediction with three wins from three in the opening games of the new season.
An imperfect 1-0 win over Finn Harps was the result on Monday night as travelling supporters were given a crucial three points for the journey back from Ballybofey thanks to Gary McCabe’s converted penalty with 20 minutes remaining.
That was his second penalty scored so far this season. McCabe, Danny North and Brandon Miele all have two goals each following the win over Harps and the Hoops’ 2-0 wins over Sligo Rovers and Wexford Youths.
Pat Fenlon’s side have in that time kept three clean sheets from their opening three games and have in doing so maintained the dogged defence which saw them concede only 27 goals in 33 games last season.
The former league winner with St. Pats expects another tough game against the Inchicore side come Friday having lost three out of five meetings with them in 2015.
“We have had a great start winning nine points out of nine and we can it make it 12 out of 12 which would be brilliant,” said Fenlon
“Since I’ve been here the games against them have been very tight. They got the better of us a couple of times last year and we want to put that right.”
His side will be missing Dean Clarke following an injury suffered against Wexford Youths. Killian Brennan is a major doubt in midfield and if he misses the game Patrick Cregg will likely start. Luke Byrne and captain Stephen McPhail both remain sidelined, neither having featured for the Hoops yet this season.
For more thoughts from Pat Fenlon ahead of Friday’s game, check out our St. Patrick’s Day interview with the Shamrock Rovers manager here.
ST. PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
Almost six years to to the day since St. Patrick’s Athletic got their first win in Tallaght Stadium, Liam Buckley’s men will be hoping they can replicate that form with an absence of a post-St. Patrick’s Day hangover to go hand-in-hand with a victory on Friday night.
The Saints surprised many, if not most of all Bohemians themselves, with a dominant 3-0 win over the Gypsies on Monday night at Richmond Park. The result banished thoughts of their shock 3-1 loss at home to Galway United on the opening day of the season.
Monday’s victory was their second win on the bounce following a 1-0 win over Longford Town a week previous.
Christy Fagan returned to stellar form with his third goal in as many games following the opener from Mark Timlin, which Fagan might have claimed as his own. A hat-trick of headers made the night complete with Conan Byrne laying off Billy Dennehy in the 89th minute for 3-0 following the dismissal of Ismahil Akinade for Keith Long’s side.
The last time the Saints played in Tallaght they too reeled away in victory with a definite 2-0 win back in August.
That game witnessed Chris Forrester’s 12th goal of the season which turned out to be his last before a move to Peterborough United weeks later. Morgan Langley got a memorable 90th minute second for St. Pats to wrap up a giddy win for travelling supporters.
The Saints also knocked Rovers out of both domestic cup competitions last season, beating them 2-1 in the second round of the FAI Cup while also beating them on penalties in the semi-finals of the EA Sports Cup in August.
The Saints will once again be without the services of all of Lee Desmond, Jamie McGrath, Jack Bayly and goalkeeper Conor O’Malley, while defender Sean Hoare faces a late fitness test.
Referee: Tomas Connolly
In three league meetings last season, both sides won once – Rovers 1-0 on the opening day of last season and St. Pats 2-0 at Tallaght Stadium in August, while the fixture at Richmond Park produced a 0-0 draw.
Shamrock Rovers produced the second highest number of clean sheets in the Premier Division last season with 15, but also recorded the most draws with 11.
St. Patrick’s Athletic forward Christy Fagan has scored three goals in three games so far this season – halfway to his total of six in the Premier Division in 2015 following an injury-plagued season last year.
Shamrock Rovers 11/10; Draw 21/10; St. Patrick’s Athletic 27/10.
Shamrock Rovers 2-2 St. Patrick’s Athletic
Injured:Stephen McPhail, Dean Clarke, Luke Byrne
Doubtful: Killian Brennan.
St. Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Jack Bayly, Jamie McGrath, Lee Desmond, Conor O’Malley.
Doubtful: Sean Hoare.