The first Dublin Derby of the season takes place where Northside faces Southside. Bohemians FC host Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount Park this Saturday afternoon in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division (kick-off 2.00pm)
Manager Keith Long has said the aim for his side is to close the gap on last years top two. With European football added to the mix he has had to strengthen his squad with numbers but also quality. In comes Anto Breslin (Longford Town), Stephen McGuiness (Cabinteely) Glenn McAuley (St Pats) Dan Casey (Cork) and Wolves loanee, Calum Thompson while the loss of veteran full back, Derek Pender may decrease the experience in a young team.
Speaking to the media this week, manager Keith Long stressed that patience is key if the club want to be successful this season.
"We are making great strides as a club on and off the pitch but we are a very young squad and we must have patience with them, There is a great vibrancy around the team and around the club which gives us all the hope for the season."
After overachieving in many people’s eyes, some people would expect Bohs to go one step further this season and lift some type of silverware and Long recognizes that.
‘Success is subjective – some see it as silverware, winning leagues, cups, qualifying for Europe etc which is natural enough. Success for us will be continuing to bring good young players through to the first team, being able to compete at the higher end of the table an in all other competitions.’
Dinny Corcoran was looking to make a return from a lengthy injury but pulled up during the warm-up and will miss out.
Shamrock Rovers will be looking to make it two in a row against their bitter rivals after knocking them out of the FAI cup semi-final stage at Dalymount last season. They will also be looking to close the 11-point gap on league champions Dundalk FC. The FAI Cup win against their league rivals will have gone a long way to building up confidence and giving belief to their fans that they can do it.
With not many departures in the off season, Sam Bone, (Waterford) and Ethan Boyle, (Linfield) nor many incoming players, Rhys Marshall (Glenavon), Liam Scales (UCD) the club look to have a settled quad for the up and coming campaign.
Shamrock Rovers Stephen McPhail believes it will be a difficult task to peg back a strong Dundalk team but one that they are ready for.
"We need to bridge the 11-point gap between us and Dundalk. It’s difficult but I am still confident as we have kept the squad together, signed a couple of players and if we can dd one more I think we can bridge the gap."
Expectations are high after the FAI Cup final win and McPhail says they need to remain competitive like they have been the last couple of seasons.
"Competing at the very top end for everything, that’s were have been the last two seasons and we’d look to do the same."
Shamrock Rovers should be travelling to North Dublin with a clean bill of health with no fresh injury concerns.
Referee: Rob Hennessy
Shamrock Rovers have won the last two meeting between these two sides, including a 2-0 FAI Cup semi-final victory.
Four out of the last six games in this fixture have ended in a 1-0 win to either side.
The last time Shamrock Rovers won at Dalymount Park in the league was in 2017, a 2-0 win. After that result, Bohemians enjoyed an eight game unbeaten run against their cross city rivals, winning seven and drawing one.