After securing a famous win in Derry to kick off the Easter double-header, the challenge for Damien Duff is to finally deliver some home comfort in this afternoon’s Dublin derby with a Bohemians side that did not enjoy a Good Friday.
The shock 2-1 victory for Shels in Derry which ended the table-toppers’ unbeaten record brought their tally on the road this term to 11 points from a possible 15, the second-best return in the league behind the Candystripes.
However, a total of one point from their five matches at Tolka Park means joy this term has been confined to the loyal band of away supporters, and Duff is acutely aware of that ahead of a north-Dublin derby with Bohs who are under pressure after conceding an injury-time equaliser to nine-man Finn Harps.
“It’s not good enough,” said Duff, who argued a few performances did deserve better than the scoreline suggested.
“We have been poor in showing our personality at home. I don’t think it’s tactical or technical. Maybe it’s a bit of emotion. We grip the bat too tight at home and play a bit freer away.
“We have a points total that we want to get to and if it all comes from away games, fair enough, but you can see the atmosphere at home to Rovers last week, numerous times in the season you want to give them more, you wish the other night (Derry) had been Tolka, 4,000 people looking at the performance.
“Instead, they are probably watching online, I have watched the LOI (TV) stuff online and I wouldn’t pay €7 (the price per game) for the camerawork. Hopefully we can start doing it at Tolka.”
Duff was in better spirits at the Brandywell than his opposite number Ruaidhri Higgins, especially when he’d watched the replay of a disallowed goal at 1-1 where it was adjudged that Jamie McGonigle was in an offside position and obscuring the view of Brendan Clarke.
“Not only was Jamie onside, Brendan Clarke was in full view of the ball so there is not one reason for the decision to be given,” said Higgins, who will bring his team to Drogheda tonight.
“That goal would’ve put us 2-1 up and we would’ve had the momentum with the big crowd behind us so it’s cost us. It’s a massive, massive decision.”
Champions Shamrock Rovers are now just three points off the top and they are in good spirits ahead of the visit of Dundalk after an efficient 1-0 win over St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday.
Centre-half Roberto ‘Pico’ Lopes is back at the top of his game after a Covid-enforced spell on the sidelines.
He managed to avoid the virus during a dramatic stay at the Africa Cup of Nations but was caught out as groomsman at a wedding where most of the marital party were struck down.
“That was my time off,” laughs Lopes, who also broke a metatarsal in his hand in the most recent international break with Cape Verde.
He says games with Dundalk have retained their significance even if the Louth club are going through a mini rebuild.
“Over the years, we built up this sort of rivalry so it’s always going to be a big game for the two teams, regardless of league position,” says Lopes. “Dundalk are sitting third now. They’re right behind us so it is treated as a big game.”
Shelbourne v Bohemians
(Tolka Park, 3.0)
Team News: Shels welcome John Ross Wilson back from suspension, but Aodh Dervin sits this out after getting his marching orders in Derry. Bohs are without James Finnerty while Grant Horton is battling to try and make it.
Talking Point: The teams are level on points but Bohs are under more pressure. Keith Long’s side have squandered good positions and their mental resolve is being questioned.
Ref: John McLoughlin
Odds: Shelbourne 21/10, Bohs 13/10, Draw 19/10
UCD v St. Patrick’s Athletic
(UCD Bowl, 5.0)
Team News: The Saints remain without Jamie Lennon, Adam Murphy and Paddy Barrett. UCD lost Alex Dunne to injury in Friday’s loss to Drogheda.
Talking Point: Saints boss Tim Clancy admitted his side were second best in Tallaght on Friday. They’ve taken just two points from four games since their last meeting with UCD and they will be expected to show more attacking quality today.
Ref: Damien MacGraith
Odds: UCD 9/2, St Pat’s 8/15, Draw 14/5
Verdict: Away win
Finn Harps v Sligo Rovers
(Finn Park, 6.0)
Team News: Eric Woods and Ryan Rainey are suspended for Harps. Sligo are waiting on Jordan Hamilton and Robbie McCourt.
Talking Point: Harps showed courage at Dalymount but, while their wait for a home win is concerning, bigger question marks hang over their guests after a worrying slump.
Ref: Paul McLoughlin
Odds: Finn Harps 2/1, Sligo Rovers 13/10, Draw 2/1
Shamrock Rovers v Dundalk
(Tallaght Stadium, 7.0)
Team News: Graham Burke is out for Rovers but Andy Lyons may be available again. Robbie Benson and Dan Williams are concerns after limping off in Dundalk’s win over Sligo Rovers.
Talking Point: Dundalk’saway form has been ropey and this will be an informative evening for Stephen O’Donnell.
Ref: Ray Matthews
Odds: Shamrock Rovers 8/15, Dundalk 9/2, Draw 14/5
Verdict: Home win
Drogheda United v Derry City
(Head in the Game Park, 7.45)
Team News: Drogheda plan without Darragh Markey, Adam Foley and Dean Williams. Derry keeper Brian Maher is unlikely to have recovered from illness. Long-term absentees Ciaron Harkin and Michael Duffy remain out.
Talking Point: Derry City have to prove they can bounce back after their first setback, and this is a tough test as Drogheda are steadily improving.
Ref: Alan Patchell
Odds: Drogheda 15/4, Derry 4/6, Draw 12/5
Verdict: Away win