Dundalk are going into this with a lot of confidence, having won their last three games, scoring seven goals and conceding just one in those games.
A big result for Dundalk came on Monday night when Dano Kelly got to the line and took on the Bohs full-back, who rashly fouled him in the last minute inside the box which gave Pat Hoban the chance to get Dundalk the win.
Hoban duly hammered the penalty past James Talbot in the Bohs goals to secure the win.
However, Dundalk still have a few concerns, such as the easy way that some teams are getting in behind them. UCD managed to split the Dundalk defence open in a matter of seconds on Monday, and the Dundalk defence will know they’ll need to be on their toes on Friday night.
Shamrock Rovers were in free-flowing form this season until Bohs rocked into Tallaght on Tuesday night and beat the Hoops 1-0 thanks to a Dinny Corcoran goal midway through the first half.
Rovers’ task, though, was made a lot harder when Trevor Clarke received a straight red followed by Lee Grace seeing 2 yellow cards a short while later. These were massive blows to Rovers, especially with Grace being one of their standout players this season.
Both Clarke and Grace will be missing for Friday’s game and this will surely have a big impact on Rovers’ patched up backline.
Rovers have only suffered two defeats this season, the latest coming at the hands of their bitter rivals Bohs on Tuesday. The league-leaders will be keen to get back to winning ways against a Dundalk side that has won its last three matches and seven of its last nine in all competitions.
Going into the match, Shamrock Rovers are top of the table, with 13 games played and 31 points accumulated. Dundalk are third, with 12 games played and 24 points accrued.
These sides met earlier in the season and drew 0-0, with both teams cancelling each other out all over the park on the night.
There were a few questionable decisions that night and Rovers had a strong appeal for a penalty when the ball seemed to strike the arm of Sean Hoare in the second half and, if it had been given, you could probably understand why the ref would have seen fit to award it.
The Dundalk staff and the team’s massive following that night had every right to feel aggrieved too when Sean Gannon went down in the box in the last minute of the game. It looked like a stone-wall penalty but was waved away.
When these teams meet there generally seems to be goals produced from all over the park. In the last 5 games between them, 13 goals have been scored, Dundalk getting the lion’s share of them with eight and Rovers getting the other five. Two of the games have finished 0-0,
This could prove to be one of the biggest games of the season; it will be a rip-roaring encounter with Dundalk wanting to keep momentum going and win their fourth game on the bounce.
For Rovers, it will be all about getting back in the groove after their hiccup on Tuesday night againts Bohs.
This game always seems to have a derby-like edge and feel to it, with tackles flying in, passion on the pitch, on the terraces and also in both dugouts with plenty of niggly things happening between the both benches.
It’ll be a good advert for the league on Friday night, which should see a massive crowd head up the Carrick Road and flock through the gates of Oriel Park.
Rovers are always known to travel in big numbers and this won’t change on Friday night.
Dundalk’s CEO, Mark Devlin, has been on social media all week asking fans to purchase tickets in advance to avoid long delays on the night at the ticket hatch.
Like I said earlier, this game should be a great encounter and, if it’s anything like last year’s games between the teams, there will be goals in this one.
This is the type of game in which you need a strong ref, one that doesn’t lose the run of himself. Neil Doyle is ref on the night and will need to have a strong game and have all his officials help him out when needed, because it’s going to be a fast, heavy-tackling, no-nonsense style of game.
For those who can’t make it, or are just neutrals, they should tune in to eir sport 1 for this game.
Players to Watch:
Dundalk players to watch out for in the game will be the usual contenders: Michael Duffy and Patrick Hoban. The two haven’t clicked as much as they’d have liked to this season but, if they find their form and link-up play of last season, this Dundalk team could go on a goal flurry again.
Pic: Michael Duffy, a player to watch out for a Friday night
Patrick McEleney is another one to watch. The Derry man is a genius with the ball at his feet and can make things happen in a matter of minutes/seconds. He’s got passes in his locker that can open any defence and he has a wide range of goals with which to back them up.
Last, but not least, is Chris Shields, who signed a new contract with Dundalk on Thursday. He is the glue in the Dundalk midfield. He sits in front of the back-line, breaks everything up and gets the team ticking over and gives the whole midfield and back-four serious protection and freedom.
Shamrock Rovers’ players to keep a look out for are the highly-rated Jack Byrne, who’s come home from Kilmarnock and is a massive player in this Rovers team. Like McEleney, he is someone who can open up defences and tight-lock teams and has some spectacular goals in his locker.
Greg Bolger: he plays the anchor role, just like Chris Shields for Dundalk, and is a no-nonsense style of player who loves getting on the ball and, when he’s not on the ball, loves breaking down attacks and keeping his team ticking over.
Aaron McEnuff is the last one I’ll highlight for Rovers; he’s been a breath of fresh air since signing for Rovers from Derry and has come up with some vital goals already this season.
I’m going to suggest that this will start off at a high tempo and will be a 100 miles-per-hour style of contest, with plenty of yellow cards dished out and maybe even a dismissal on the night. Both teams will go at it, hammer-and-tongs.
I don’t think this game will be shy on goals either, and I feel that Dundalk will beat Rovers because they’ll be a bit down after the derby defeat on Tuesday, plus the fact they will have a patched-up backline after the two red cards on Tuesday.
Dundalk to win and over 2.5 Goals in the match (13/5)
Dundalk, Half Time–Full Time (23/10)