League Preview: Shamrock Rovers -v- Dundalk


Shamrock Rovers will be hoping that after a fortnight off the return of key players can help them get their four-in-a-row bid back on track when they welcome Dundalk to Tallaght Stadium on Friday night (kick-off is at 7.45pm).

Rovers weren’t in mid-August European or FAI Cup action following a disappointing 1-1 draw away to Shelbourne two weeks ago in the league.

The Hoops will kick off what potentially looks like a mouth-watering run in for the Premier Division title with a four-point cushion over Dublin rivals St Patrick’s Athletic while Derry City are a point further back having played a game less.

Stephen Bradley’s charges have used the two weeks off to train and play an in house friendly against their academy side while they have welcomed back Neil Farrugia, Trevor Clarke, Lee Grace and Sean Hoare to training in timely fashion.

Given the staggered nature of the July/August schedule, the defending champions have won just two of their last ten games in all competitions and could do with a fresh start of sorts in order to keep on the journey to four Premier Division titles on the spin.

“Everyone bar Jack Byrne is fit again; Jack is still a little bit away. Neil Farrugia got the ‘all clear’ this week, so he could be involved against Dundalk.

“Trevor Clarke has trained now for two weeks, the Shels game was a bit soon for him, but he’s back now which is great.

“Lee Grace and Seán Hoare are also back and had a good week’s training,” Bradley told Shamrock Rovers’ website.

“We were able to play a game in-house with a lot of the younger boys from the 17s and 19s involved, which was really good to see them mixed in with the first-team squad, so we had a really good game.

“We would rather have had a competitive game and be playing in the Cup but it wasn’t to be, but we had a really good week’s training and that in-house game.”


In a week where five title chasers will soon become three, fifth place Dundalk can move to within five points of their hosts with a win.

The Lilywhites got the better of the Hoops in their FAI Cup second round meeting last month and in their last league meeting which were both at Oriel. However, Tallaght Stadium has proven to be a graveyard in recent times with Dundalk without a league win there in their last seven attempts dating back to 2019.

A win could kick-start Dundalk after an inconsistent season to date.

“It’s very tight at the moment and a lot of teams might be feeling indifferent about the season but fast forward seven or eight games and it can look completely different,” manager Stephen O’Donnell told the club’s website.

“Our focus is solely on ourselves and what performance we bring. We’re on a good run, we’ve won eight, drawn four and lost two of our last 14 games so we just need to keep that sort of consistency going between now and the end of the season and see where it takes us.

Despite losing just two of their last fourteen games and welcoming back star man Daryl Horgan to Oriel Park, Friday night’s trip to the champions will be a reflection of where they are at.

“It’s very tight but there is loads to be done between now and that thought of beating the best team in the country on their home patch.

“We haven't been successful there in recent times so it’s a massive task ahead.

“They have had a two-week buffer and I am sure they are recharging we have a nine game run in now with no distractions to retain their title so I am expecting a big reaction from them with fresh bodies back.”

Referee: Neil Doyle.


Dundalk haven’t won in Tallaght since 2019 – seven attempts - current Rovers defender Sean Gannon’s lone strike secured Vinny Perth’s men a 1-0 win in June 2019.

Dundalk knocked Shamrock Rovers out of the FAI Cup and have won their last two games against them both at Oriel Park.


Shamrock Rovers

Injured: Jack Byrne.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.



Injured: Keith Ward, John Mountney.

Doubtful: Robbie Benson, Ryan O’Kane.

Suspended: None.