Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians, Tallaght Stadium, Live on Setanta IRL, 7.05
With both sides looking to the future from very different perspectives, it’s a real case of the haves and the have-nots as Bohemians travel across the capital to face Shamrock Rovers in a crucial test of the Hoops’ title ambitions.
Rovers have never been in ruder health on the back of their Europa League campaign while Bohs are in such dire straits that manager Pat Fenlon only broke a four week media silence last week to decry the precarious financial situation at the club.
It must seem like a lifetime ago for Bohs fans but the corresponding fixture last year was seen as a title decider and seemed to swing the balance in Northsiders favour before Rovers pipped them to the post on goal difference.
Despite the boardroom turmoil at the club since, Fenlon’s side has done remarkably well and their title ambitions only really fully faded with last week’s loss to UCD, their tense 0-0 draw with St. Pats on Friday though showed that there’s still fight in the Gypsies yet.
And with Rovers in the hazardous position of needing to play catch up with Sligo following the Westerners’ convincing win last night, Bohs would love nothing more than to derail their bitter rivals’ title hopes.
With only five games to go Michael O’Neill can’t afford any slip ups and although Bohs have not won in five times of asking at Tallaght Stadium, O’Neill will be prepared for a tight contest against the team with the best away record in the league.
The matches between the sides this season though have been cagey affairs with no more than a goal separating the sides on each occasion, as Rovers have looked uncomfortable with Fenlon’s solid tactics.
Fenlon is likely to continue with one up front and packing the midfield in the hopes of dragging Rovers into a battle but if O’Neill has faith is his multitude of attacking options the home side should be able to overcome any obstacles Bohs can put in their way.
It may well be a tight contest between the great rivals but off the pitch the gap between the sides couldn’t be wider.
Shamrock Rovers will be without eccentric goalkeeper Ryan Thompson, former Bohs man Ken Oman and Dean Kelly who is still out with a groin injury.
Bohemians will be without their two top scorer Christy Fagan and Keith Buckley who scored in the 1-1 draw the start of the season while the experienced Owen Heary is likely to be fit in time.
Shamrock Rovers – WWLDWW
Bohemians – WWWWLD
Shamrock Rovers – Gary Twigg, 14
Bohemians – Christy Fagan, 10
Odds – Paddy Power
Shamrock Rovers – 4/7
Draw – 5/2
Bohemains – 5/1