While Shamrock Rovers supporters have revenge for their club’s opening day of the season defeat to Bohs in their minds, Hoops head coach Stephen Bradley is insistent that his team is simply focussed on winning when they welcome Bohemians to Tallaght Stadium on Friday night (kick off 8pm).
“We don't go into games feeling we 'owe' teams one,” said Bradley to the club's official website ahead of the match. “We just want to win the game and tomorrow will be no different.”
In the first game of the season, the Hoops led 1-0, only to lose 3-1 to Bohs at Dalymount Park.
Results on the road away from Tallaght for Rovers have been poor – their only positive result a 1-0 win in Limerick – but performance wise the Hoops have been decent (with the exception of the second half away to Bohs when the Gypsies dispatched Rovers with ease).
However at home, the Hoops have been imperious – earning 13 points from the 15 on offer and conceding just one goal. The Tallaght strategy will be to make it five wins from six at home with a victory over their cross city rivals.
Despite claiming four clean sheets at home though, the big debate this week was the goalkeeping strategy. Kevin Horgan came in for criticism for his display in Dundalk last week when the Hoops went down 2-1.
For the final three league games of last season and the first three of this year 20-year-old Horgan started in goal, only for Tomer Chencinkski to come in for the next three matches, with Horgan returning for the last two league games. It is another big call for Bradley with the goalkeeping jersey for Friday’s match.
Last week Rovers managed to do something that no other team had done in the league so far this season which was to score against Dundalk. Dan Carr was the player with that honour off a flick on header from a set piece – the striker has scored three goals in the league this season.
“We'd worked on Dan Carr with certain movements [from corners in training] so it was good to score but to be fair we could have scored two or three on the night,” said Bradley, who felt his side were unlucky not to get something from the game in Oriel Park with the chances that they created.
“Sean Kavanagh, Ronan Finn getting in and Graham Burke hit the bar. Gary Shaw's one-on-one. We had a lot of chances and created a lot. Sean's disallowed goal was two yards onside. We just don't seem to be getting those decisions at the moment.
“Hopefully over the course of the season they even themselves out. It doesn't make the Bohs game any bigger that we lost last week. We have our targets and they don't change whether we win, lose or draw.”
It will no doubt be a big Dublin derby crowd for the game with Rovers encouraging their fans to wear their green and white colours for their Friday Flag Day with supporters urged to bring their Shamrock Rovers flags to Tallaght.
“It's a big game, we know that. If we come ready to play like we did last week and have done for most of the season then we'll be fine. The players know it's a big game, players like Sean [Kavanagh] have heard a lot of talk about it.
“They know it'll be a good atmosphere here and that it'll be a tough game. Bohs will come to play and fight for 90 minutes. We've had them watched the last few games and they've been unlucky.
“We'll look to continue our home form, hopefully we play to our levels and that's enough to get us the three points.”
The Gypsies couldn’t have started 2018 any better with an impressive come-from-behind performance against Rovers in the Dublin derby at Dalymount Park on the opening night of the campaign.
However, they have won just once more in the league since that night – a 2-1 win against a Bray Wanderers side who have only one point so far this year. Since that home win over Bray, Keith Long’s men have played four times. In the league they lost 3-0 away to Dundalk and a scoreless encounter with Limerick at home last week.
However they progressed through two rounds of the EA Sports Cup in that time against First Division opposition, dispatching Cabinteely with ease 5-1 and eliminating UCD on penalties in both ties that were played in Dalymount.
They have beaten the Hoops in their last two matches with a 2-1 victory in the July encounter in Tallaght to go with this season’s victory over the Hoops.
"Previous meetings, form, your position in the table... they can go out the window,” was Keith Long’s assessment of the derby when speaking to bohemianfc.com on the eve of the game.
“It can come down to which side wants it more. It's not always the prettiest spectacle, the priorities for both teams is always the result. Rovers will have been hurting after us coming from behind to beat them the last time so as a team, we have to be prepared for a backlash.
"But our focus has to be on ourselves and our own performance. We expect a big vocal travelling crowd and both team and supporters will be looking to get the result."
Long’s task is made more difficult due to the unavailability of Dan Casey who put in a man-of-the-match performance in the game between the sides in Dalymount back in mid-Feburary.
The defender scored twice in that match but is ruled out of this game due to concussion. Casey’s loss is compounded by the absence of Oscar Brennan and Philly Gannon, while captain Derek Pender along with Dan Byrne and John Ross Wilson are all doubts.
There is some good news with Rob Cornwall, Kevin Devaney and Paddy Kavanagh all available again to join Keith Long’s match day squad.
Reflecting on the 0-0 with Limerick last week, Long noted: "we dominated the game and our performance deserved to get all three points.
"We created chances, we put the ball into good areas but we couldn't find that final touch. In many ways, it was probably our most complete performance of the season. If we can play like that every week, we'll give ourselves a chance."
Referee: Robert Harvey
Graham Burke is the top scorer in the league so far this season with seven goals. He earned his club’s player of the month award in March to go with the SSE Airtricity League/SWAI award.
This season marks the tenth that the Hoops have called Tallaght home. In that time the Gyspsies have won just twice in the league in the southside venue.
Bohs got their first clean sheet of the season against Limerick last week at Dalymount Park. The Hoops have shut out the opposition in the league on five occasions.
Shamrock Rovers 8/15; Draw 13/5; Bohemians 5/1
Shamrock Rovers 2 – 1 Bohemians
Injured: Trevor Clarke, Sean Boyd.
Injured: Dan Casey (concussion), Oscar Brennan (ankle), Philly Gannon (hamstring), Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal), Ryan Swan (cruciate).
Doubtful: Derek Pender (calf), Dan Byrne (groin), John Ross Wilson (illness).