It may be so long at this stage since Cork City’s champagne was first put on ice that the key prop for any celebration they might stage may well be lukewarm and flat by now. But there will be enough away fans at Dalymount on Friday evening to ensure there is a bit of a party in the event that John Caulfield’s team finally get their title win over the finish line.
A win, at this stage, would be enough regardless of how Dundalk get on at home to Bray. But if Stephen Kenny's side fail to take all three points, then it is irrelevant what happens in Phibsborough, as City would be guaranteed their third league title.
Bohemians boss Keith Long seems determined that his men will do their bit to drag things out for at least another while, insisting that the home side has “nothing to fear” from a team they beat down in Turner’s Cross during the summer, when the league leaders were still threatening to go through the campaign without losing a game.
If they are to repeat the trick, it will be without Lorcan Fitzgerald or 18-year-old Warren O’Hora, who are both injured. Keith Ward is suspended after his first-half sending-off in the defeat by Sligo, but Paddy Kavanagh returns. City have Steven Beattie suspended while Conor McCormack faces a late fitness test.
There may be a few of those at Oriel as the Dundalk players look to pick themselves up and go again after the gruelling extra-time win over Shamrock Rovers in the FAI Cup.
The Dubliners have David McAllister back from suspension for the visit of Sligo, and Brandon Miele is likely to be lifted after Tuesday's loss by his Airtricity/Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland Player of the Month award for September. But there will be some sadness around the club, too, over the confirmation that midfielder Paul Corry, who returned home from England to join Rovers at the start of this season, is to retire due to an ongoing knee problem at the end of the season.
“An operation seven weeks ago to repair a re-torn meniscus confirmed serious deterioration to repairs made on my ACL, LCL and lateral meniscus during the initial surgery in 2015,” said the 26-year-old in a statement issued on Twitter.
“Constant struggles with swelling, stiffness and pain in my knee have backed me into a corner where I have no other option but to make this decision. I have explored every avenue and tried a number of different procedures but nothing seems to have worked.”
The announcement comes towards the end of what has been a deeply frustrating campaign for the former UCD, Sheffield Wednesday and Northampton Town midfielder whose signing, while always seen as being something of a risk, appeared to have the potential to be something of a coup for the club if it worked out well.
Sligo travel to Tallaght in desperate need of the points, which is somewhat remarkable given that, since beating Stephen Bradley’s side at home on July 2nd, they have lost just twice in the league themselves. Nine points from their last four outings have given them every chance of saving themselves, and their win in Turner’s Cross suggests they have little enough to fear on Friday night either.
Jamie McDonagh and Gary Boylan are both available to manager Gerard Lyttle again, but Michael Schlingermann is still ruled out by a neck injury.
Galway United have a full squad available for the critically important visit of St Patrick’s, who have themselves shown real improvement of late, but not enough to get themselves clear of the danger zone. Darren Dennehy will be missing again, but Barry Murphy is back in contention. Finn Harps head to Maginn Park in desperate need of a win without Ethan Boyle, Paddy McCourt or Packie Mailey.
Fixtures (7.45 unless stated)
Premier Division: Bohemians v Cork City, Derry City v Finn Harps, Dundalk v Bray Wanderers, Galway United v St Patrick's Athletic, Shamrock Rovers v Sligo Rovers (8.0).