A fourth consecutive league win for Shamrock Rovers in last Friday’s Dublin derby sees the Hoops just one point off top spot going into matchday 15 in the LOI Premier Division. With Rovers two main title rivals, Bohemians and Derry City, facing each other this Friday, Rovers could climb to the top of the table with a win against bottom side UCD as the Champions bid to win four straight league titles this season.
LOI TV commentator and host of Between the Stripes LOI podcast Kieran Burke looks ahead to a big Friday night in the LOI.
Dundalk FC v Cork City FC – 7.45, LOI TV.
Despite being far from convincing this season, Dundalk currently find themselves on a five match unbeaten streak with the Lilywhites winning their last three matches on the spin. In fact, Dundalk’s last defeat came against Friday’s visitors and Stephen O’Donnell will be keen to see his team right that wrong in front of the Oriel Park faithful on Friday.
Cork City are starting to look like real relegation candidates having lost all of their previous five matches and are now just three points above bottom side UCD. Nobody has conceded more goals in the top flight than Cork City who parted ways with their manager Colin Healy last week.
The vastly experienced Liam Buckley stepped into the dugout on a temporary basis for the visit of his old side St.Pat’s last Friday but the same old defensive mistakes that plagued Colin Healy once again reared their head as the Dublin outfit came from behind to win 3-2.
On current form, it’s hard to look past a Dundalk win.
PREDICTION: Dundalk (9/10)
Bohemians v Derry City – 7.45, LOI TV
A huge game in the title race as league leaders Bohemians welcome third placed Derry City with just three points separating the two sides.
Bohs fans were left feeling aggrieved after their side were not awarded what looked a clear penalty at a crucial period in last week’s Dublin derby defeat to Shamrock Rovers while Derry City were extremely fortunate to come away from Drogheda with all three points in a 0-1 win.
Despite winning three of their last four matches, Derry City have been unconvincing of late although injuries could be pointed to as a key reason for that. As for Bohemians, on the three other occasions they’ve lost this season, they’ve bounced back with a win in their very next outing. That includes beating Derry 0-1 in the Brandywell off the back of what could have easily been a deflating home defeat against Shamrock Rovers on April 7th.
This Bohemians team have shown great resolve since former Derry boss Declan Devine took the reigns and was able to put his own stamp on things in the transfer market. As a result, I fancy the Gypsies to come away with something here.
PREDICTION: Draw (9/4)
St.Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United – 7.45, LOI TV
Despite not having a manager, St.Pat’s came away from Turners Cross with a vitally important win last week and will be hoping to back that result up in front of their own fans when Drogheda United come to town.
Drogheda United have to be one of the unluckiest teams in the division so far this season, although you could argue you make your own luck and when you look back on some of the chances Drogheda have missed in recent weeks their manager Kevin Doherty must be pulling his hair out.
A combination of poor finishing and Brian Maher heroics saw Derry leave Weavers Park with a fortunate three points last time out while recent defeats against Dundalk and Bohemians were also harsh given how well United played in those games.
Doherty’s team are extremely well organised and difficult to break down, that is what they’ve based their success on in recent seasons, but they’ll have to be bang at it here if they are to keep the in-form duo of Forrester and Jake Mulraney quiet on Friday.
The individual quality of such players can often be enough to swing a game in Pat’s favour but they’ll have to sort out their defensive issues quickly if they want to keep pace with the top four. The Saints haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last six games and there were some worrying signs in their win away to Cork.
Pat’s will probably just shade this but at 4/5 they don’t make much appeal. I’ll take a chance and play the draw here @ 13/5.
UCD v Shamrock Rovers – 7.45, LOI TV
Currently on an 11 match unbeaten run and a winning streak of four games, this should be an academical result for Shamrock against the rock bottom Students.
While UCD have shown signs of improved performances of late, they are still struggling for results having lost three of their last four.
Shamrock Rovers have won their last 13 competitive meetings against UCD with the Hoops winning the last 8 of those to nil.
Expect Stephen Bradley’s men to do what they need to do here before moving on to bigger targets.
BEST BET: Shamrock Rovers -1 (6/10) NAP