Dundalk look to turn up heat on Hoops

Picture: Ben McShane

With Shamrock Rovers not in action against Sligo Rovers until tomorrow, Dundalk will see their game in hand at home to Derry City tonight as an opportunity to close within a point of leaders.

And the champions’ recent good form suggests they should have every reason to feel confident against the Candystripes who, despite being a respectable fourth in the table, suffered the significant blow of losing at home to Bohemians last time out. 

As it happens, Lilywhites’ ‘keeper Gary Rogers reckons it was a late, late victory for his own side against Keith Long’s team last month which properly kick-started their season.

“We have been able to build up some good momentum over the past few weeks,” he says. “That win over Bohemians has been key to us. 

"The last minute goal has allowed us to kick on and we have won four matches since that. The plan is to keep it going now.” 

For first team coach John Gill, Monday’s 3-0 victory against Waterford was another step in the right direction for the champions.

“We are getting back towards where we want to be,” he says. “It was a good win for us and we have managed to get momentum behind us. 

We feel we have prepared well for the games over this period and we have got five wins on the bounce. We want to keep that going now.”

For his part, Derry boss Declan Devine needs no telling about how challenging a trip to Oriel Park can be.

“We’re going to the home of the champions and therefore we know what to expect,” he says. 

“Dundalk are a quality side, the best in the league, so we will have to be ready for the challenge.”

In Dublin, St Patrick’s Athletic are at home to Waterford, with Blues boss Alan Reynolds hoping his side can get back to winning ways at Richmond Park.

“We’re coming to the end of a really busy couple of weeks but we just have to dust ourselves down and look to Friday night,” he says. 

We’re missing a few players again and Bastien [Hery] is suspended but we’ll just re-organise and look to play as well as we know we can when we get going.

Elsewhere in the top flight, Bohemians host Cork City at Dalymount Park and, in a clash of the bottom two in Ballybofey, Finn Harps entertain UCD (8pm).

In the First Division, there’s a Dublin derby between Cabinteely and Shelbourne at Stradbrook in which something looks bound to give: Cabo, in second place, are currently on a five-match unbeaten run while third-placed Shels are undefeated in their last four league outings.

Elsewhere, leaders Longford Town travel to Drogheda, Athlone are at home to Cobh Ramblers, Galway welcome Wexford and Limerick play host to Bray Wanderers.

Tonight’s games kick off at 7.45pm unless otherwise indicated.

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