Third-placed Bohemians welcome St Patrick’s Athletic to Dalymount Park (kick-off 7.45 pm) with a chance to move back into second position should they win.
Bohs started the season extremely well and were the early pacesetters in the table but recent results haven’t been quite as impressive.
With the international break intervening, Keith Long’s men have had two weeks to reflect on their first loss of the league season – a 2-0 reverse to Cork City at Turner’s Cross on March 15th.
Ali Reghba and Andy Lyons were the Phibsboro’s clubs representatives in Russia with the Republic of Ireland Uuder-19s and neither is expected to be in action.
Bohs’ form might have dipped a notch but fans’ interest remains at fever pitch and Dalymount is expected to sell out again for the latest Dublin Derby.
These are promising times for the SSE Airtricity league with attendances up nearly 12% on last season.
Bohs had no fewer than seven players involved in the various international set-ups last week, a fact that delighted first team manager Keith Long.
“With Stephen Kenny going in as manager of the under-21s he wants to promote the best domestic players and he had nine in his squad,” he told the club’s media team.
“It may become a common occurrence but it’s a sign of our success and it's a good problem to have.”
Long may be envious of the budget enjoyed by full-time south city rivals Pats but he sees no reason to be discouraged.
Bohs’ link with well-known schoolboy nursey St Kevin’s has helped with their recruitment.
“They’ve a lot more financial clout. How do we compete with Pat's financial muscle?
“I don't think we can, so we have to be a bit more inventive. You have to be cuter about how you recruit.
“A lot of the players who’ve come in this year have schoolboy pedigree, have gone over to England and it hasn't worked out for one reason or another.
“They’ve come back under the radar and the most important thing is that we protect those assets, that they stay at the club.
“We’ve done that really well over the last few years. The players that are coming through to the first-team will have careers in the league.”
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
St Patrick’s Athletic sit in sixth place in the table after a rather spotty opening to the 2019 campaign.
A brilliant 1-0 home win over 2017 double champions Cork City set Richmond Park rocking in the first league match but there have been disappointing results since.
Saints manager Harry Kenny reflected on his side’s determination to bounce back from consecutive league defeats to Shamrock Rovers and Waterford
"Bohs have made a great start to the season under Keith Long and they are a well organised team with several players in top form at the moment,” said Kenny.
“They have already had a few good results this season and will be tough opponents for us.
“We have had a little bit of a break to work on a few things so hopefully we can go to Dalymount and pick up a result."
St. Pats also enjoyed a week off last week while Jamie Lennon helped the Republic of Ireland Under 21s to that impressive 3-0 win against Luxembourg.
Brian Maher joined Bohs’ Reghba and Lyons with the Ireland under-19s in Russia and will likely miss out.
Dean Clarke netted the winner in last March’s league encounter between the sides’ at Dalymount, which the Inchicore men won 1-0.
The striker says only a tip top away performance will ensure a repeat of that success.
"Any time I have played in Dalymount it has always been tough as the crowd there are always very good,” he said.
“Bohs will always up for the game. Whoever they face or whoever is available for them, they never let you rest.
“It will be a dogged game and it could be decided by one mistake, a set piece or a bit of magic from someone.
"We just need to go there and get back to the basics and doing things right. If it is decided by that one moment in the game, we need to make sure it goes our way."
Striker Gary Shaw is the only injury concern for Pats and will undergo a late fitness test.
Referee: Robert Rogers
Bohs enjoyed the superior record in the age-old Dublin city rivals’ league encounters last season.
After that Dean Clarke inspired victory for Pat’s last March, Bohs took seven points from the remaining three Premier Division match-ups between the sides.
Bohs and Pat’s have managed just a single goal each in their respective last three league matches, as early season optimism has dissipated somewhat.
Bohs did, however, hit Shelbourne for four in the Leinster Senior Cup on March 11th.
Bohs will be able to call on the experienced Kevin Devaney for the first time this season after his recovery from injury.
Devaney hit the winner when Bohs beat Pats 1-0 at Dalymount in the league last June.
LAST FIVE LEAGUE MATCHES
St. Patrick’s Athletic: WDDLL
Bohemians 23/15; Draw 9/4; St. Patrick’s Athletic 2/1.
Bohemians 1 – 1 St. Patrick’s Athletic
St. Patrick’s Athletic
Doubtful: Gary Shaw.