Airtricity League Round Five

by Back Page Football

Craig Gibson looks forward to the fifth round of Airtricity League games in both the Premier and First Divisions.

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St. Patrick’s Athletic have the chance to open up a three point gap on Bohemians tonight ahead of their visit to Dalymount Park on Tuesday. The Saints welcome Sporting Fingal to Richmond Park in RTE’s televised game. Elsewhere, Seán Connor comes up against his old side for the first time as Galway host Dundalk, Drogheda will be looking for their first win of the season against Sligo, and Shamrock Rovers will be hoping to build on last week’s win in Galway when they take on UCD in Tallaght.

Liam Buckley returns to Richmond Park in the pick of tonight’s games with the former St. Pat’s boss looking to mastermind their first defeat of the season. The Pat’s defence will need to be wary of Fingal’s Gary O’Neill, with the striker’s four goals in as many games making him the league’s top scorer. Along with Alan Kirby and Stephen Paisley, O’Neill is one of three former Pat’s players in the Fingal squad.

It will be a case of déja vu all round at Terryland Park with managers Seán Connor and Ian Foster having swapped clubs in the off season. The latter has made a far better start to this campaign and could even see his unbeaten Dundalk side sitting at the top of the table tonight if results go their way. In sharp contrast, Connor’s Galway have lost three of their opening four games and they will be desperate to get some points on the board tonight.

Shamrock Rovers will be looking for back to back wins when they welcome UCD to Tallaght Stadium. The Hoops, who have yet to pick up a point at home, will again be without the services of front two Gary Twigg and Dessie Baker. The Students have made a solid start to the season with Ciarán Kilduff and David McMillan forming an impressive partnership up front.

In tonight’s final game Paul Cook’s Sligo Rovers will be looking to maintain their excellent form when they visit Drogheda United. Having already taken points off last season’s top two the Bit O’ Red should be more than a match for a Drogheda side that have notched just one point from four games. The Drogs face a relegation six pointer against Bray Wanderers on Bank Holiday Monday and a win tonight would give them a real boost going into that game.

Air Play To You
Pete Mahon has worked a minor miracle in his first few months at Richmond Park. The Saints manager has turned a defence which resembled a sieve under Jeff Kenna into the most formidable back line in the country, with four clean sheets from their first four games. Mahon made a number of quality signings in the off season but arguably his most impressive piece of business was convincing Ryan Guy to remain a St. Pat’s player. The Californian has made an excellent start to the season and is a real fans’ favourite.

Bad Air Day
The Setanta Cup semi-final between the champions of Ireland, Bohemians, and the champions of Northern Ireland, Linfield, was a chance to really showcase the game of football on this island in a positive light. Passion, rivalry and quality football will all be on display at Dalymount Park. It makes absolutely no sense that the authorities have decided to schedule the match at a time when it will clash with the Manchester United v Chelsea game.

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