BOHEMIANS’ hugely-significant victory against Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday means that the Airtricity Premier Division title can’t be decided today – but it could be decided next Friday if the Hoops can extend their two-point lead over the old rivals with three games to go.
However, before Rovers host Sporting Fingal at 3pm in Tallaght, Bohs have a chance to go top if they can get the better of St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park at 1pm.
“The mood has been good in the squad for some time and now the confidence is high too,” says manager Pat Fenlon.
“You could see that on Tuesday, how well everybody played and how they moved the ball around. I can’t remember a match at Dalymount as intense as that.
“The performance was very good but we have had performances as good as that before and haven’t followed them up. Now we’re showing more consistency.”
Jason Byrne, who scored the winner on Tuesday but then had to be substituted with a dead leg, will have a late fitness test before today’s game, which is being broadcast live on RTE Two.
Two hours later, the Setanta Ireland cameras will be in Tallaght where Shamrock Rovers, scarcely showing championship form in recent weeks, will be looking to bounce back against Sporting Fingal.
Worryingly for the home side, strikers Dessie Baker (knee) and Tommy Stewart (achilles) are both doubtful, while Dan Murray, Sean O’Connor and Pat Sullivan all remain out with knee injuries. However, Robert Bayly and Danny Murphy come back into the fold after missing Tuesday’s defeat to Bohs through suspension.
“It was disappointing to lose the game,” says manager Michael O’ Neill, “both because it was a derby and also it was a great opportunity to get even further ahead at the top. But we pushed and pushed, and just couldn’t get an equaliser on the night. I can’t fault the players; they gave their all on the night. We have to move on from that now. Sporting Fingal is a big, big game for us now and I would urge all our fans to get behind the team. The league is still in our own hands, we are two points ahead, and we are still fully intent on winning it.”
In the other Premier Division fixtures today, Dundalk host Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park (2pm) and Galway City face UCD at Terryland Park, (6.30). In the First Division, Cork City are at home to Monaghan United (3pm), Derry City host Shelbourne (6pm), Waterford United welcome Finn Harps (7pm) and Athlone Town have home advantage against Longford Town.
Meanwhile, in a UEFA U19 European Championship qualifier in Bulgaria, Ireland take on the home nation at 3pm, Irish time.
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