The home side enter this game in what surely must be some sort of daze.
Shamrock Rovers were, until last week, stretching their legs clear of the chasing pack in the Premier Division.
Many were already handing the title to the Hoops after just 12 games.
Two games later and their long-running lead is cut to four points with the prospect of Dundalk closing to within a point of them if they win their game in hand.
Rovers were beaten 1-0 by Bohemians last Tuesday. They will feel and argue they were beaten more by refereeing decisions. Reduced to nine men with nearly an hour left on the clock, the Tallaght side did well to keep a handle on the scoreline in that defeat.
A trip up to Oriel Park to face the defending champions in the immediate aftermath is hardly what the doctor would have ordered.
Stephen Bradley’s men were second best last time out, and the 2-1 scoreline undersold Dundalk’s superiority.
Can Rovers rediscover the form that saw them lose just once in their first 12, conceding just five along the way?
St Patrick’s Athletic have threatened to announce themselves as contenders in this league from week one.
Unfortunately for Pats, it’s looking more and more likely this will be another transitional season.
They’re ten points shy of Rovers’ total, albeit with a game in hand, and seven points clear of their closest pursuers in the table, Waterford.
A win here can still vault the Inchicore men into the title conversation, a defeat will go a ways to confirming another quiet year.
Pats conspired to go on a losing streak of three games in the league over March. They then followed that up with a win over Dundalk and another three wins in the following five games.
Harry Kenny’s side will travel to Tallaght Stadium in decent form and with a good chance, Rovers will be motivated to avoid a third straight loss.
For much of this league campaign, Jack Byrne and Aaron Greene have been rightly admired.
Unfortunately for Rovers, they have been on the pitch but in absentia in their two recent defeats.
The loss with nine men can be excused, the defeat to Dundalk a few short days later will leave its mark for a time.
For me, this match will very much hinge on whether or not St Pats can threaten their hosts going forward.
Despite scoring six in their last three games, only Sligo, UCD, and Cork City have scored less than St Patrick’s Athletic this season.
The teams Pats are scoring against are those below them in the table; if they can carry their recent form in to this game they have a chance.
Ultimately, if Rovers can impose their game on the visitors, they should prevail.
They were 1-0 winners the last time the sides met last month.
Aaron Greene went down under a challenge from Kevin Toner, the ref gave the peno and Aaron McEneff slotted it to the net. That seventh-minute goal proved enough for Shamrock Rovers to come away from St Pat's with the three points… #RTEsoccer pic.twitter.com/rTihocDxt0
— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) March 9, 2019
On three out of four occasions last year, Shamrock Rovers were the victors, Pats managed to beat them once at Richmond Park.
It’s Rovers for me.
This game will be a test for Bradley’s men. Their pride will have been dented by recent events and anything less than three points at Tallaght Stadium will represent a poor compromise.
I’m backing Shamrock Rovers to find their defensive feet once again.
Shamrock Rovers to Win to Nil at 6/5
And, as a secondary bet, I like the look of Rovers to Win + Under 3.5 goals at 10/11