The biggest weekend of the season awaits.
1) Who'll win the top of the table clash in Inchicore?
St Patrick's Athletic host Dundalk in Richmond Park with the 2 sides locked on 58 points each with 6 games to go. You don't need to be Rachel Riley (that's the new Carol Vorderman for our older readers) to work out that 3 points earned tonight would be a massive help to the winners. Dundalk have already beaten Pats twice this season and they travel to Inchicore looking for their 6th consecutive league win. Pats have had a couple of stumbles recently but they're still unbeaten since that last Dundalk game (9 games) and they'll remember how emphatically they put a stop to Sligo's 8 game winning streak earlier in the season. It promises to be a thrilling clash and late fitness tests to Saints midfielders Killian Brennan and Shane McFaul may prove crucial. The game is live on RTE 2 from 7.30pm tonight
2) Which team from Dublin's Northside will be deepest in trouble tonight?
Shelbourne and Bohemian have won 9 of the past 14 League of Ireland titles between them and tonight they face off in one of their biggest games in years. The new manager bounce from John McDonnell has well and truly worn off the home side Shelbourne as they've lost their last 3 in the league. They sit bottom of the table; 1 point behind Bray and 2 points behind Bohs. Bohs are in better form but they'll remember Shels winning 3-0 in Dalymount last time the sides met. With Bray travelling to Derry, a Shels win would see them leapfrog Bohs and potentially out of the bottom 2. A Bohs win would put 5 points between the sides. That's a huge game at the bottom.
3) Who'll win the EA Sports Cup?
Shamrock Rovers "host" Drogheda United in a national cup final for the 3rd time in 12 months. Last season saw the Drogs upset a Brian Laws led Rovers side to pick up their trophy in 5 years and earlier this season Rovers thrashed Drogheda to claim the Setanta Cup. Rovers' lacklustre league season has been well documented but there's no doubting their performances in the cups; Setanta winners, FAI semi-finalists and even a Leinster Senior Cup final to look forward to after this. They're strong favourites at home to a Drogheda side who have also became cup specialists (They're in the other FAI Cup semi final). They approach this game with the future of manager Mick Cooke still not decided. The players clearly like him and will do all they can to give him another trophy to put on his CV should he move on. The final is live on Setanta Ireland with a 6pm kick off.
4) Can Sligo Rovers get back in the title race?
Champions Sligo Rovers travel to UCD hoping for a big win and a draw in Inchicore. That will leave the Bit O'Red 3 points back with 5 to go, including a trip to Inchicore themselves. While UCD seem to have done enough to make themselves safe (or at least give them breathing space), they've already lost both games to Sligo this season by 3 goals. As it stands, Pats have +30, Dundalk +19 and Sligo +25. Any kind of big win for Sligo would see them set up to take advantage of slip ups from the top 2.
5) Will Athlone Town clinch the First Division?
Roddy Collins' Athlone Town could clinch the first division title (and promotion) if they beat Salthill Devon and Longford Town and Waterford both fail to win. Whatever about the other scorelines, they'll settle for a win at bottom side Salthill to practically ensure their promotion in the next couple of weeks. It has been a remarkable season for Athlone who started off quite slowly (compared to Longford's sprint from the gates) but Roddy looks set to win promotion again. His only other year in the first division saw him get Monaghan United promoted.
Whatever happens, enjoy the games!