Shamrock Rovers entertain champions Dundalk on Friday night at Tallaght Stadium (kick-off 8:00 pm), with Rovers coming off their first loss and the Lilywhites achieving their first win of the season on Monday night.
Rovers have had a mixed week from their two games last week. They confidently dispatched Derry City 2-0 at home on Friday night. Dylan Watts netted in the first half before ex-Derry player Aaron McEneff cheekily converted a panenka penalty with ten minutes remaining.
Optimism was high going into Monday night’s Dublin Derby at Dalymount Park against Bohemians.
However the night did not go as planned for Stephen Bradley’s men. Aaron Greene was shown a straight red card after 30 minutes and Dinny Corcoran converted a 67th minute penalty to give the Gypsies a 1-0 win.
Crucially, the result meant their arch rivals have extended their unbeaten run against the Tallaght outfit to six games, winning five of those.
Speaking to the club’s website ahead of the Dundalk game, Bradley reflected on how he felt the Bohs’ game played out, in particular the red card and the penalty incident.
“We’re obviously disappointed that we have lost the game to Bohs but I felt that it was taken out of our hands with the decision that was made. I thought up to that point, the sending off, we were really good, creating a lot of chances and a lot of problems for them. Even in the last twenty minutes we went and had a go again and created chances.
“I’ve watched it back numerous times and at most it is a yellow card for Aaron Greene. The two players have their foot on the ball and neither of them actually touches each other. What catches each other are their bodies, their feet do not touch. You can see by Aaron’s reaction when he turns to get away from the other player, he knows he has not touched him.
“The players said afterwards that the penalty was soft but we have given the ref a decision to make in the box which we should not have done. With 11 men we were by far the better team and when we went down to ten men there was not much difference.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming Dundalk game, 34-year-old Bradley is looking forward to competing against last year’s double winners.
“Dundalk is a big game; we know they’re a good side. Their team has not changed from last year and they are still the team to beat. We have got a chance to do that tomorrow night.
“We were disappointed on Monday but we moved on. It is gone and we have prepared for Dundalk all week. It is a game we are looking forward to and one I believe we are ready for. The last three games have shown we are ready for it.”
Rovers will have to do without full-back Ethan Boyle for Friday, with Dylan Watts and new signing Orhan Vojic deemed doubtful. As mentioned, Aaron Greene will have to watch from the stands as he was sent-off in the previous game.
Friday Night, Rovers v Dundalk, Tallaght Stadium, Be There! pic.twitter.com/1TYUrDdnPl— Shamrock Rovers FC ???????? (@ShamrockRovers) February 27, 2019
After two score draws in their first two games, Dundalk registered their first win of the season by securing a 2-1 come-from-behind win at Oriel Park against UCD on Monday.
Pat Hoban and Michael Duffy’s first goals of the season in the second half cancelled out Neil Farrugia’s opener.
It was a welcome win for Vinny Perth’s side. Although it is still early days, one would get the feeling that the Lilywhites are not firing on all cylinders at the moment. They did draw their first two league games last season however, and they still romped away with the league.
Reflecting on the win, Chris Shields told his club’s website that his side performed well after drawing the two opening games in what was a slow start for their own high standards.
“It was a very good win especially after giving ourselves another hard task of going one nil down. I think the second half display showed what we are all about, and to be fair, what we have been doing for all the three games – thankfully the chances went in on Monday night and we can kick on from there.
“It was time to man up, stand up and go and win the game. Keep doing what we were doing because we were creating the chances, and be clinical in front of goal.
Ahead of the visit to Rovers, the aforementioned match winner Duffy, speaking to the club’s website, is relishing the opportunity to play in such a big game.
“It’s a massive game on Friday. We enjoy playing in Tallaght Stadium. Rovers will be looking to bounce back themselves after their loss on Monday so we know it is going to be a difficult game.
“We will go there in great confidence though. We got the first win which was important but we are playing well and we are confident we can go there and kick on.”
The champions focus now switches to the match against Rovers and while First Team Coach John Gill concedes it is always a ‘massive game’ against the Hoops, he does not believe it will have a major bearing on the fortune of either club in 2019.
“It’s a massive game against Shamrock Rovers but it’s not going to define either of our seasons. It’s only four games in and there is a lot to play for.
“Our players enjoy going to Tallaght. They have always played well there. We have got that first win which is what we needed.
“We are looking forward to the game and the challenge. We go into the game now with confidence and we go there looking to get a positive result.” he told dundalkfc.com.
Both Patrick McEleney (foot) and Robbie Benson (leg) both miss out after injuring themselves on the opening night of the season. Sean Murray, scorer on the opening night, is deemed very doubtful.
Although it is still early days, a win on Friday night would be a huge statement of intent to the league.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
The sides have met 45 times in competitive fixtures, with Dundalk winning 18 of those to the Hoops’ 14. There have been 13 stalemates, with an average of three goals scored per game between the pair.
Both sides met on four occasions in 2018, all in the league. The first one at Tallaght Stadium finished in a 0-0 draw in February, while the Lilywhites were 2-1 winners at Oriel Park in May.
The next match at Tallaght in June was more entertaining with Dundalk coming out 5-2 winners in Dublin. The final meeting took place in August at Oriel and Rovers were 2-1 winners thanks to a last minute penalty through Dylan Watts.
Rovers captain Ronan Finn played for Dundalk for two years in 2015, making 62 appearances and scoring 12 goals. Dundalk’s Sean Gannon started his career at Rovers in 2011.
Shamrock Rovers 12/5; Draw 15/8; Dundalk 5/4.
Shamrock Rovers 1-1 Dundalk.
Injured: Ethan Boyle.
Doubtful: Dylan Watts, Orhan Vojic.
Suspended: Aaron Greene.
Injured: Robbie Benson (leg), Patrick McEleney (foot).
Doubtful: Sean Murray.