League Preview: Shamrock Rovers -v- Sligo Rovers

Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers players in the tunnel ahead of last May's match in Tallaght that the home side won 3-1

Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers players in the tunnel ahead of last May's match in Tallaght that the home side won 3-1 Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)


The Hoops begin their Bank Holiday weekend by welcoming Sligo Rovers to Tallaght Stadium (kick off 8pm) before Stephen Bradley’s side face a trip to Derry on Monday evening.

Since losing to the Candystripes 2-1 in early March – the club’s last league defeat at home since Sligo Rovers won in May 2021 – the Hoops are undefeated in the Premier Division with four wins and three draws.

The champions have won just the one of their five home games so far this season with three draws going with the loss to Derry and their only victory in Tallaght coming in their most recent home game – a 3-0 victory over bottom side UCD.

"I've been saying it for weeks that our home performances have been good,” said Stephen Bradley when speaking to shamrockrovers.ie ahead of Friday’s match.

“We've had one or two moments and spells where we haven't been, but as a whole we've been good. We just need to stay at those levels and I've no doubt that the results will follow. Our home form the last few years has been really strong, and we'll need that to be the case again this season."

Rovers’ results in recent weeks have been as they would have liked with four wins and a draw along with four clean sheets from their last five games. They face Sligo Rovers’ attacking threat with Max Mata’s eight goals (including three spot kicks) making him the top scorer in the league.

Asked about trying to shackle Mata, Bradley said: “I think it's about trying to control the game as early as possible and keep them quiet as a team, not one player. We never focus on one player, no matter who we're playing so it's about getting to grips with the game as soon as possible and respect all their threats, from set plays and both of their wingers. So, it's about respecting them all really."

The Hoops won 2-0 in Inchicore last time out with former Sligo Rovers striker Johnny Kenny scoring in the first half with Trevor Clarke adding another after the break. The former grabbed his third goal of the campaign while the latter scored his first goal on his return to Shamrock Rovers.

 "I thought we were really good in every aspect of our performance (against Pats). Johnny’s movement was brilliant for the goal. His all-round game was good, and he worked extremely hard. We know what we have with Johnny, and I think you can see that his play really suits how we play.

“Trevor would feel that he should have more goals this season already and the one he scores in Richmond is probably harder than any of the opportunities that he's had, so it's a brilliant strike.”

Bradley also gave an update on player availability and will be able to call upon Ronan Finn who made his first appearance of the season off the bench last week. “Ronan is our captain and our leader. It was great to get him back on the pitch because we know how important he is for us.

“Rory Gaffney is doing really well and he could be in contention for the game, but Dylan Watts will be a couple more weeks and Sean Gannon will be similar. Liam Burt will probably be next week as well, but Simon Power should be available for Friday."


The Bit O’ Red face Dublin clubs on the double this weekend with a trip to Dublin 24 on Friday night to take on the Hoops and Dublin 8 on Monday afternoon for a game against St. Pat’s.

John Russell’s men are targeting all three points in Tallaght so that they can move above Shamrock Rovers in the table. The Bit O’ Red sit fifth, two points behind the Hoops who currently occupy third position.

‘’We’re all excited for the two games this weekend,” said Russell on sligorovers.com ahead of the action. “Shamrock Rovers and St. Patrick’s Athletic have shown good form recently so it’ll be a tough test. However, I know the players are relishing the challenge of going away from home and trying to close the gap on the teams above us.”

Last week at the Showgrounds the home team beat UCD 3-1 with Fabrice Hartman scoring twice to add to Max Mata’s fifth minute goal.

“We had a good performance last weekend. It was important to pick up the three points in what is such a tight and competitive league. There will be a lot of twists and turns over the next few weeks but it’s important that we concentrate on ourselves and what we’re trying to do on the pitch.

‘’I have such belief in this group of players and staff. If we continue to work hard and set high standards we will get our rewards over the course of the year.

“Our travelling support has been fantastic so far this season. The players have responded well to the backing and they are all eager to put in top performances over the long weekend.”

When the teams met on the opening night of their respective league campaigns, a 95th minute Lukas Browning goal earned the Bit O’ Red a point as he cancelled out Graham Burke’s first half goal.

“It was great to get the equaliser in that game,” said Browning talking to his club’s media team. “I think we deserved it, but I didn’t really realise at the time what it meant to everyone, especially the supporters, but I found out about that afterwards.”

Referee: Damien MacGraith



The Hoops were unbeaten against the Bit O’ Red last season winning home and away 3-1, along with a 2-2 draw in Tallaght and a 1-1 draw in the Showgrounds.

While Max Mata tops the league scoring charts with eight goals, he is two clear of Hoops player Graham Burke and St. Pat’s player Chris Forrester. Burke scored five against Sligo Rovers last season – including a hat-trick in the home win in May.


2-1 home win


Shamrock Rovers

Injured: Dylan Watts, Sean Gannon, Liam Burt

Doubtful: Rory Gaffney, Simon Power

Suspended: None

Sligo Rovers

Injured: Garry Buckley, Karl O’ Sullivan, Mark Byrne, Gary Boylan 

Doubtful: Bogdan Vastsuk, Eanna Clancy

Suspended: None