Airtricity League previews: Bohemians keen to start turning draws to wins against Derry

Four games take place on Friday evening, with Shelbourne’s trip to Sligo the only match on Saturday

Friday (7.45pm unless stated)

Bohemians v Derry City, Dalymount Park

Eight draws. If Bohs had flipped half of them into wins, Keith Long’s latest rebuild would have them in the conversation to finish second behind Shamrock Rovers. Promise Omochere has been unplayable at times this season so Derry must slam shut Dawson Devoy’s supply-chain to the rangy winger and hope that Will Patching continues to pour in the goals from midfield.

Dundalk v UCD, Oriel Park

In Liam Kerrigan and Colm Whelan, the students had Irish Under-21 forwards that were capable of tearing up any defence in the Premier Division. Whelan’s season-ending injury and Kerrigan joining the growing list of Irish talent at Italian clubs gives Dundalk no excuses, even with Patrick Hoban injured, to cut into Rovers’ 10-point lead at the top.

St Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United, Richmond Park

Drogheda lie in no man’s land. All but certain to avoid relegation without ever getting close to mid-table, their abysmal away form invites Eoin Doyle to bring his goal tally for St Pat’s to nine. Scoring has not been a problem for Tim Clancy’s side, it’s the 21 goals they have conceded in 22 games, with Rovers carving them up far too easily last Monday night.

Finn Harps v Shamrock Rovers, Finn Park, 8pm

Rovers manager Stephen Bradley repeatedly states that winning the league is more important than progress to the European group stages but a third successive title loses its sheen if this well-stocked squad cannot turn summer soccer into hard-nosed winter football. Jack Byrne remains injured but expect plenty of rotation in advance of Hibernians of Malta coming to Tallaght on Tuesday.

Saturday

Sligo Rovers v Shelbourne, 7.45pm

This is a serious fixture for two clubs separated by four points, with Damien Duff’s charges holding a game in hand, as a hot summer run could sneak one of them into the European conversation. Highly unlikely, yet possible if Shels manage to strengthen their panel in the coming weeks.

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent