Airtricity League Matchday 7

by Back Page Football

On the eve of El Classico in Spain, it’s the first An Clasaiceach of the season as old rivals Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians come face to face at Tallaght Stadium. Anything less than a win for Bohs could see St. Pat’s extend their lead at the top of the table as they welcome winless Drogheda to Richmond Park.

Elsewhere, unbeaten Dundalk host hit-and-miss UCD, Sligo travel to Bray looking to bounce back from the disappointment of throwing away a two goal lead on Monday night, and Galway host a Sporting Fingal side who will be hoping to keep pace with the leaders.

In the absence of star striker Gary Twigg, Shamrock Rovers take on their arch rivals having failed to find the net in any of their first three home games. This has led to some awful, yet painfully truthful, jokes such as the following: What’s the difference between Shamrock Rovers and a tree?…A tree doesn’t fall apart when it loses a twig. All jokes aside, this is a far bigger game for Rovers than it is for Bohs as a defeat tonight would leave the Hoops eight points behind the Gypsies having played a game more. The league champions were beaten on both of their visits to Tallaght last year and Pat Fenlon’s men will be going all out to prevent an unwanted hat-trick.

At first glance, there could only be one outcome at Richmond Park with league leaders St. Pat’s taking on second from bottom Drogheda who have the worst defence in the league by some distance. However, the Drogs have already knocked the Saints out of the Leinster Senior Cup at Richmond Park this season and Pete Mahon will be taking nothing for granted. Pat’s performed very well in Tuesday’s draw with Bohemians but they are expected to win tonight and that brings a different kind of pressure. It will be interesting to see how they cope.

In a league riddled with draws at the moment, Sligo Rovers are winning the race to be known as ‘the draw specialists’ having shared the spoils in five of their first six games. The Bit O’ Red let a two goal lead slip at home to Dundalk on Tuesday night and manager Paul Cook will be desperate to see his side take all three points from Bray tonight. The Seagulls earned their first point of the season with a goalless draw in Drogheda on Monday and they will be hoping to get their home campaign on track tonight.

Dundalk’s position in the table is proof of how tight the league is at the moment. Currently lying fourth, if other results go their way tonight they could go top and if results go against them they could drop as low as seventh! Ian Foster’s side welcome UCD to Oriel Park with the Students showing two wins, two draws and two defeats from their opening six games. The outcome of this game could depend on which UCD side show up tonight.

Draws with St. Pat’s and Shamrock Rovers over the Easter weekend were further evidence of how quickly Sporting Fingal have settled in to the top flight. Galway boss Seán Connor reckons Fingal are genuine title contenders and he knows his team will have their work cut out as they look to claim only their second victory of the season. However, the strength of Liam Buckley’s squad will be tested tonight as two of their first choice midfielders – Shane McFaul and Shaun Williams – will miss the game through suspension.

Air Play To You
Many pundits thought it would be a straight fight between Derry City and the newly formed Cork City Foras Co-op for the First Division title this year but it is Waterford United who have taken the league by storm with five wins from their opening five games so far. The Blues have been knocking on the door of promotion in recent years and this could be their year.

Bad Air Day
It seems that they are going overboard with the security at Dalymount Park these days. Glentoran’s chairman recently blamed over-enthusiastic stewards at Bohemians for causing the crowd trouble which marred their Setanta Cup clash. Then, on Tuesday night, the St. Pat’s fans were told to stay behind at the end of their game with Bohs even though nobody could remember any trouble between Bohs and Pat’s fans in the past. By repeatedly announcing the need for Pat’s fans to wait behind, Bohemians were giving off the impression that their should be trouble at this fixture.

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