They’ll be reeling in the years at Tallaght Stadium tonight as the current top two in the Airtricity Premier Division meet in league action for the first time in six years.
There is no surprise in seeing Shamrock Rovers leading the field, even if it’s only after three games, but Shelbourne are the story of the season so far, the newly promoted club still unbeaten and joint first place on points with the Hoops.
Shels registered a big result last week, a Philly Hughes goal toppling visitors Derry City at Tolka Park, while Rovers required a late show by Gary Twigg to rescue a point in Cork.
“It’s good to win. It’s a nice position to find ourselves in,” said Shelbourne manager Alan Mathews.
Further good news for Shels going into tonight’s match is that DavidCassidy (who made his comeback for the final 15 minutes of the Derry game), Stephen Paisley and Kevin Dawson all played a full part in training this week and are available for selection.
For Rovers, Ciaran Kilduff (broken metatarsal), Conor Winn (back) and Stephen O’Donnell (knee surgery)remain out through injury, while Conor Powell is suspended.
“For us, there have been some very good individual performances in the last few games, but we know there is room for improvement from our game in Cork last week,” said Hoops boss Stephen Kenny.
“It will be a right battle on the night and we’ll have to be committed to get the victory.”
Cork City head to the Brandywell to face Derry City, looking to build on the positives of that 1-1 draw with Rovers despite the disappointment of conceding a last-gasp equaliser. Manager Tommy Dunne is expecting another serious test on Foyleside.
“I watched their game against Linfield the other night and you could see that they are a strong team,” he said. “They are physically strong, they’re quick and they have goodcreativity in the side as well. They had a good season last season, and I think they will be even closer to the top this season.”
Shane Duggan will miss out again for Cork following his sending off against Drogheda United, while Stephen Mulcahy, Kevin Murray and Neal Horgan all remain sidelined with knee injuries. Dunne also has doubts over Daryl Horgan (thigh strain) and Jamie Murphy (hamstring), but he is hopeful both will feature.
In a potentially significant blow for the home side, Derry City will be without top scorer Rory Patterson after his red card against Shels.
“I felt Cork were very unlucky not to come away with a win last week against Shamrock Rovers and I fully expect them to bring that momentum to the Brandywell,” said Candystripes manager Declan Devine.
“Having said that, if we play with the fluidity that we displayed in the second half on Tuesday, we should secure all three points.”
In tonight’s other Premier Division games, Bray Wanderers are at home to Drogheda, Dundalk host UCD and Monaghan United entertain Sligo Rovers (8pm). In the First Division, Limerick host SD Galway and Mervue United host Athlone Town.
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