Shamrock Rovers v Drogheda United (7.05pm)
(Stephen Kenny will be hoping his side can bounce back from the last week’s disappointment – INPHO/Morgan Treacy)
Shamrock Rovers will be hoping to recover from their comprehensive 3-0 loss against Sigo last week, while Drogheda are going into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw with Bohs.
Looking forward to the match, Rovers boss Stephen Kenny said: “We know we face a tough game against Drogheda. They have being doing very well this season and have some very good players in the side.
“But our target is to get six points from our two games over the next four days, against Drogheda and Monaghan.
“We are well capable of winning this game, and have played very well at home this year. Obviously we were not happy with the result against UCD, but we intend on putting things right against Drogheda.”
Meanwhile, Drogheda boss Mick Cooke added: “They will not be underestimating us in any way and will be as professional as usual. It’s nice that we get to showcase ourselves again on live TV.
“I was happy with our second-half performance last week and thought maybe we deserved all three points, but when we went 1-0 down I was glad that we managed to equalise so quickly as you never want to be behind for long at Dalymount.”
For Rovers, Chris Turner and Graham Gartland are suspended after receiving red cards in the game against Sligo. Ciaran Kilduff also misses out with a foot injury. Drogheda have no injury worries, though Brian Gannon and Shane Grimes will be absent through suspension.
Bohemians v Derry City
(Stephen McLaughlin celebrates scoring against Monaghan - INPHO/Morgan Treacy)
Bohemians will be hoping for a win to pull them away from the bottom of the table, with both UCD and Dundalk only two points behind them.
Derry, on the other hand, are currently mid-table, following an indifferent start to the season, but will be looking to push on from last Tuesday’s 4-1 defeat of Monaghan.
Bohs boss Aaron Callaghan feels his side are in a better position now compared with the start of the season:
“We’re much more settled. I have my mind made up on twenty players who can play in the first team.
“We’re also more optimistic now because the boys have taken on board what we’re trying to do.
“We can go and compete with Derry and Sligo and give them a proper game. But even in the first round, we only lost those games by a single goal, and against Derry that was with a man sent off.
“As we know too well, a single lapse of concentration can decide a game.”
Derry boss Declan Devine has urged his side not to get too discouraged by their lack of consistency so far:
“We have got to be positive heading into the next round of games. Things haven’t gone our way, and we have been disappointed with some of our performances so far, but with all that said we’re not a million miles away in terms of points from the teams at the top.
“We have seen out the start to the campaign missing the likes of Stewart Greacen and Kevin Deery, and now we add Barry Molloy to that list.
“We know that as we head down to Dalymount on Friday, we will be in for a tough game, as it was in the Brandywell. Aaron Callaghan has his side working hard and playing some good football at the minute, and we must be on our guard to get a decent result.”
Owen Heary and Andy McNulty (both hamstring) are absent for Bohs, while Neil Harney and Dinny Corcoran are doubtful, and Luke Byrne misses out due to a school graduation. Derry also have a number of absentees – Stewart Greacen (knee), Kevin Deery (knee), Mark Farren (hamstring) and Barry Molloy (hamstring).
Bray Wanderers v St Patrick’s Athletic
(Bray’s form has been mixed this season – INPHO/Donall Farmer)
Despite a 0-0 draw with Cork, St Pat’s remained in second place last week thanks to Rovers’ loss. Bray, meanwhile, secured a welcome 2-0 away win in Dundalk.
Speaking after the game last week, Bray Director of Football Pat Devlin said:
“Our build up was very good and we deserved to win the game. Looking ahead to Friday, it’s a tough one. Pat’s are one of the best teams in the League and the game will be a challenge for us.”
Pat’s boss Liam Buckley is not expecting an easy match on Friday evening:
“Bray gave us a really tough game at the start of the year, we know they’ll be strong as Pat always has them fired up when they play at home.
“They were very good in their last two home games to Bohs and Shamrock Rovers, and before that they were very unlucky to lose to Sligo.
“Last week they had a good win against Dundalk, with players like Jason Byrne and Kieran Marty Waters particularly playing well.”
Shane O’Connor and Sean Hurley return for Bray, who have no fresh injury worries or suspensions ahead of the game. James Chambers, Stephen O’Flynn, and Mark Rossiter are all still out for Pat’s, though the visitors can at least welcome back Greg Bolger from suspension.
Cork City v UCD
(Dunne’s side secured an impressive point last week – INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)
Cork produced a committed display to earn a 0-0 draw at Pat’s last week, while their rivals near the bottom of the table, UCD, endured another disappointing 2-0 loss against Shelbourne.
Nonetheless, Cork boss Tommy Dunne believes both sides have improved since the start of the season:
“We will be a better proposition in this game than we were in the first game, but I have no doubt that UCD will be better as well. We have to make sure that we are diligent in our performance.
“Over the past couple of weeks we have shown that we are a team capable of going out and scrapping for results when we need to, and we have been competitive, which is pleasing.
“It has taken us time to adjust to the pace of the division, but in recent weeks, we have been picking up some good results. Every team in the division is capable of taking points off each other, and everyone will have a good spell, so we need to keep picking up results if we are to improve our position.
“We will be going out to win the game, but we do know that UCD are a very capable side and will be a tough proposition for us.”
UCD manager Martin Russell has urged his team to make the most of the occasion:
“For many in the squad this will be their first trip to Cork, as always we are expecting a decent crowd and a decent atmosphere. We will be looking to bounce back with a good performance and a result that will match our ambition.
“They have accumulated some decent results since we last met and their point away to Pat’s would have given them a lot of confidence.
“This will be a difficult proposition but once again our lads must rise to the occasion and show that they are capable of performing at the highest level.”
Shane O’Connor (foot) and Jamie Murphy (ankle) have been ruled out for Cork, as have Stephen Mulcahy, Kevin Murray and Neal Horgan (all knee).
Dan Murray, Tadhg Purcell, Gearóid Morrissey and Colin Healy are also doubts for the hosts.
For UCD, Ger Barron (foot), Chris Mulhall (groin), Tomas Boyle (back), Dean Clarke (foot) Cillian Morrison (hip flex) and Sean Russell (back) are all injury worries.
Dundalk v Monaghan United
Monaghan will be hoping to recover from their disappointing 4-1 defeat against Derry on Tuesday night. Dundalk, similarly, will be looking for a better performance, following their 2-0 home loss against Bray.
For Dundalk, Liam Burns, Mark Griffin, and Chris Shields are once again in contention to start. Luke Danville, however, is still out.
Willo McDonagh, Keith Quinn and Robert Bayly return for Monaghan, though Aidan Collins remains doubtful.
Sligo Rovers v Shelbourne
(Danny North has been in excellent form this season – INPHO/Morgan Treacy)
Sligo will be hoping to continue the fine form that has helped them reach the top of the table against Shelbourne tonight.
The hosts’ manager Ian Baraclough has emphasised the importance of not getting carried away with their excellent start to the season:
“We’ve got a group of lads that are fully-focused long term and in it for the long haul. We have the beginning of a new series of matches now and we have set a standard in the first 11 games. If we don’t get a similar return in the second series of game, we’ll know we didn’t reach the level that we can.
“I have seen Shelbourne a couple of times and it is probably the hardest test we could get after the win last week. They’ll be organised, hard-working and they have match winners in their team.
“Joseph [N’Do] will see a specialist and he will probably be out for a couple of weeks. Apart from that we are at full-strength.”
Joseph N’Do is the main man missing for Sligo, having suffered a hamstring injury.
Lorcan Fitzgerald and Stephen Hurley are long-term absentees for Shelbourne, while Sean Byrne is suspended.
(All matches kick off at 7.45pm unless specified)