Shelbourne v UCD
A little like a Dublin bus, Shelbourne fans waited a long time for a home win and then suddenly two arrived in quick succession. Home wins over Sligo Rovers and Drogheda United have breathed new life into Damien Duff’s Reds with Friday night’s win away to Dublin rivals St.Pat’s undoubtedly Duff’s biggest moment since stepping into the Tolka Park dugout.
As for UCD, any hopes of the recent positive results against Dundalk and Finn Harps injecting a new found belief in the Students was quickly extinguished as they lost their star striker Colm Whelan to a season ending injury while Shamrock Rovers couldn’t have been more dominant in Friday’s 3-0 stroll around the UCD Bowl.
At this moment in time, UCD fans are just praying that the side above them, Finn Harps, continue to falter and that they can keep in contention for as long as possible. However, with Shelbourne on a 3 match winning streak and back in front of their own fans here there’s every chance they’ll be extending their winning run to 4 games here.
These two sides played out a 0-0 draw at UCD earlier in the campaign and that is a result UCD will probably look back on as a missed opportunity given the poor form Shelbourne were in at the time. Tonight’s match is a meeting of two of the leagues three lowest goal scoring sides but with Shels scoring at least once in 8 of their last 9 games it appears as if Duffers men are finally turning a corner. UCD on the other hand have failed to score in 3 of their last 4 and have shipped 17 in their last 5. It’s hard to look past Shelbourne here.
Finn Harps v Dundalk
To put it quite simply, Finn Harps are having an absolutely shocking season so far. While the Donegal men are no strangers to scrapping at the bottom of the league they have rarely looked so uncompetitive and out of their depth. It was always likely to be a struggle for Ollie Horgan’s men given the calibre of players they lost in the off-season while the level of replacements simply haven’t been up to the grade required. A tenth defeat in just 16 matches on Friday night certainly has the alarm bells ringing around Finn Park.
Dundalk know all about vast volumes of playing staff turnover having essentially built an entirely new squad following the arrival of new Head Coach Stephen O’Donnell in the winter but unlike Harps the Dundalk rebuild is so far proving to be a great success. Sitting inside the European places in third, the Lilywhites win away to title chasing Derry City on Friday night should boost confidence levels massively as it was amazingly Dundalk’s first win on the road this season! Only for a spate of draws early on in the year, when this team were still bedding in and finding their feet, Dundalk would not be far off the top two.
At home, only Shamrock Rovers have a better record than Dundalk this season and Finn Harps found that out when they were brushed aside by the Louth men earlier on in the term. However, following that 3-0 win in February, Dundalk went on a bit of a wobble when failing to win any of their next four fixtures. In recent weeks though, Dundalk have found their scoring boots, netting two or more goals in their last four fixtures and with Finn Harps remarkably goal shy this season (13 goals in 16 matches) , Dundalk should have a little too much for Horgan’s men here.
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