As ever lots to look forward to in this week's Airtricity League action. Here's our guide to the most important story lines.
1) Can St Patrick's Athletic stay on top on the league?
When Pats last beat Bohs on the 24th of May, they went top of the league for the first time this season. Over 3 months later and they're still sitting there. With Dundalk breathing down their necks, they know that anything less than a win is likely to see them slip to second place. Pats will feel fairly confident tonight though, even with the memory of a 1-1 draw against Bohs in Inchicore earlier this season. Since going top of the league Pats have played 7 League and FAI Cup games at home, winning 6 of them and conceding only once. Bohs will be buoyed by their recent win over arch-rivals Shamrock Rovers but they're missing the talismanic Dave Mulcahy tonight and will be up against it from kick off.
2) Can UCD shock Dundalk again?
Dundalk have won 9 of their last 11, including their last 4, in the Airtricity League. There's no team hotter than them. They started that run in 4th position and it has taken a while for some pundits to realise that Dundalk are very much in the title race. Their recent victories of Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers have erased any doubts and now they enter in games felling that little bit of pressure that being in a race for the championship brings. UCD is the last team to beat Dundalk in Oriel Park and they have shown enough recently to suggest they'll be safe from the drop (11 points in 7 games). They're now 5 points off the bottom 2 but will be hoping for another upset tonight to get some breathing space down there.
3) Will Trevor Croly finally feel some pressure?
3 league defeats in a row for Shamrock Rovers seemed to pile pressure on manager Trevor Croly. He's been at pains to tell people he doesn't feel under pressure and this week saw many ex-managers call for rookie manager Croly to be given more time. There was some respite last week with Rovers comfortably disposing of junior side Sheriff YC. IF they lose to joint bottom Shels, that pressure will be amped up again. Shels have come back to reality after their recent great run with 3 defeats against the top two. They face Rovers tonight and Derry next week before the huge game with Bohs.
4) Can Sligo Rovers or Derry City get back into the title race?
Sligo and Derry are now 7 and 8 points (respectively) behind Pats. They both play mad-table teams this weekend as Derry make the long journey to Cork and Sligo host Limerick. While their own form has spluttered recently, they know that if they can string a few wins together they'll be ready to pounce if the top 2 suffer any dip themselves. Tuesday night could be a big night in the league. The outstanding games postponed form earlier in the season are played. Sligo travel to Drogheda while Derry host Pats. 2 wins in 5 days for Derry and Sligo could go a long way to opening up the title race.
5) Athlone Town could get real close to the first division title this week
There are only 6 games left in the first division. Tonight sees leaders Athlone play Wexford Youths in a game they should win. The biggest game of the weekend though is in Waterford as they host Longford Town knowing anything less than a win for either side would all but rule them out of the title race. If the game ends in a draw, it will leave Athlone with a 7 point lead and only 5 games to play. Roddy Collins won't lose that lead.
Whatever happens, enjoy the games!