Shamrock Rovers v Dundalk
Tallaght Stadium, Sunday, 7pm
Following their humbling to Ferencváros in central Europe on Thursday night, Shamrock Rovers must promptly refocus for the visit of Dundalk, now looking like the chief challengers to their title, to Tallaght Stadium on Sunday evening for a top-of-the-table clash.
The three meetings between the two this season have been very close, with just a goal in it from respective wins, while their first clash ended scoreless.
An experienced Dundalk side beat Rovers 1-0 at Oriel Park in their last meeting and, just four points behind them in the table with a game more played, will see this as an opportune time to take on the champions following their travels.
“It’s a huge fixture no matter what, but there is a real emphasis on us now to go and really do a job,” said Dundalk midfielder John Martin after last week’s 1-0 win at Bohemians. “We have a few bodies out, but the gaffer has brought in a few really good signings and the squad is big and very competitive and there’ll be no qualms about who comes in.”
Dundalk travel in their quest for more capital gains without key defender Andy Boyle, who is suspended having been sent off at Dalymount Park, while captain and striker Patrick Hoban is a major injury doubt having hobbled off with a calf strain after just 12 minutes against Bohemians. Midfielders Paul Doyle and Daniel Kelly are also injury concerns.
Suspended for their Europa League game in Budapest, Rovers have their skipper Ronan Finn set to return as they defend an unbeaten home record this year in all competitions.
Manager Stephen Bradley continues without the experience of defender Roberto Lopes and midfielders Graham Burke and Chris McCann, though Jack Byrne could be set for his first start in almost three months.
“We know how important it is,” said Bradley. “Dundalk are obviously our closest rivals at the moment. We’ll be ready for it.”