Airtricity League – Round 3

Back Page Football’s new Irish football columnist Craig Gibson returns this evening with a run down to round three of the Airtricity League.

Champions Bohemians will be looking to maintain their 100% record tonight when they visit Drogheda. United Park has been renamed Hunky Dorys Park (much to the delight of Bernard Dunne) and Bohs will be hoping their crisp passing can secure them all three points. Meanwhile, flavour of the month St. Pat’s host UCD with the Saints looking to make it three wins on the spin with a third successive clean sheet. Liam Buckley will be hoping his Sporting Fingal side are ready to rub salt into bottom side Bray’s wounds when his side visit the Carlisle Grounds in tonight’s other clash.

Bohs’ performances have been well below par so far but Pat Fenlon has seen it all before and he knows that results are all that matter at this stage of the season. Raffael Cretaro will surely be given a starting place up front this week after coming off the bench to bag the winner against UCD in midweek. Alan Matthews will be hoping his young side can build on their encouraging display in last week’s derby draw with Dundalk.

St. Pat’s were sitting pretty at the top of the table on St. Patrick’s Day, appropriately enough, after the Saints secured their first win at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday night. Pete Mahon will be confident of masterminding a third straight win when Pat’s host his former club, UCD. His opposite number, Martin Russell, spent many happy nights at Richmond Park as a player of course and he’ll be hoping for another one tonight.

Bizarrely, another two former St. Pat’s heroes come face to face at the Carlisle Grounds with Eddie Gormley’s Bray hosting Liam Buckley’s Sporting Fingal. Eddie says performances are all that matter for his young side but deep down he knows they’ll have to start picking up some points sooner rather than later as youngsters can easily become disheartened after a few bad results. Liam Buckley thinks his side deserve far more than the solitary point they have to show for their efforts so far and he’ll be confident his side can pick up their first win in the top flight tonight.

Sligo Rovers host Galway United tomorrow night in the clash of the only sides situated more than an hour from Dublin City centre. Galway were fortunate to hang on for a 2-1 win against Bray last week and should find Sligo to be much tougher opposition. The Bit O’ Red have drawn their opening two games 1-1 and I wouldn’t bet against them making it three in a row (although I should point out that my Cheltenham betting has been a catastrophe).

In Sunday’s live game, nothing less than a win will do for Shamrock Rovers when they entertain Dundalk. I use the term ‘entertain’ loosely because the Hoops were simply awful against Pat’s in midweek. Rovers are already five points off the pace and Michael O’Neill’s men can’t afford to drop any more points. A draw would keep Dundalk ticking along nicely and they may well set out their stall with that in mind.

Air play to you

Fair play to everyone involved in Sunday’s charity match at Richmond Park between St. Pat’s Legends and a team of celebrities which raised some much needed money for children’s hospitals. Johnny McDonnell deserves a special mention for showing up after he was relieved of his duties as Newry City boss less than 24 hours earlier. It was typical of the man and hopefully it’s not too long before Johnny Mac is back in management.

Bad Air Day

Michael Daly picked up where he left off last season by getting himself sent off at Oriel Park on Sunday. The only difference is this time he was playing for Drogheda and not Dundalk. The midfielder saw red three times last season and he needs to improve his disciplinary record quickly if he is to progress as a player.

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