Pat Fenlon will seek improvement from Shamrock Rovers
Chris Shields returns for Dundalk as champions shape up to face an improving Sligo Rovers
Bohemians manager Keith Long: Beating Longford Town and Bray Wanderers will have injected a bit of confidence in to his side. Photograph: Inpho
Having lost to St Patrick’s Athletic at home a few weeks ago and then produced what manager Pat Fenlon described as a “gutless” performance against Derry City, Shamrock Rovers could do with showing some serious improvement at Dalymount Park this evening against a Bohemians side that has hit upon a winning formula in their last two outings.
Beating Longford and Bray will have injected a bit of confidence into Keith Long’s side after what was a disappointing start to the campaign but Rovers should present a somewhat tougher test even if the recent form in games between these two heavily favours the home side who have lost just once in their last 11 encounters.
Dundalk look like being without Pat McEleney (groin), Robbie Benson (ankle ligaments) and Ciarán O’Connor (broken metatarsal) but Chris Shields returns as the champions shape up to face an improving Sligo Rovers side.
Sligo coach Dave Robertson adds Philip Roberts to the squad that secured a draw at Richmond Park and the striker may start as Rovers look to deliver up front on what have been far stronger performances in defence and midfield. Tim Clancy and Gavin Peers are close to full fitness but might have to be patient given the results during their absence.
Galway, like Derry, have crashed the early leading group but Tommy Dunne and his players will have better idea of just how much progress they have made after the visit of Cork City. “We spoke about it in training (and) we need to be getting points off the top teams in the division, the likes of Cork City and Dundalk, that’s our aim,” says skipper Paul Sinnott.
“Improving on our defence is something we’ve looked at since last season, we shipped too many goals, especially at home. We want to be a more cohesive unit and stop leaking soft goals. I think we’ve done that so far, especially at home but Cork City coming here will be our biggest test.”
Cork manager John Caulfield will be looking for a reaction to the home draw with Wexford Youths when a slow start was followed by an attacking onslaught that eventually yielded a late equaliser. The visitors have doubts about Kevin O’Connor, Alan Bennett, Mark O’Sullivan and Danny Morrissey.
Wexford visit St Patrick’s Athletic while fellow newcomers Finn Harps host Bray with both managers taking a similar view on plucky performances versus points on the board. “You can perform all you want but it’s picking up points that really gives players confidence,” says Youths boss Shane Keegan. “You can see by our lads in training they really fancy their chances tomorrow night.”
Harps have already played Liam Buckley’s side this week and Ollie Horgan describes the manner of the 1-2 defeat as having made it feel like “a moral victory” although, he adds, “we’d prefer to play poorly and get a draw or a win”.