Preview: Shamrock Rovers vs. Derry City

Preview: Shamrock Rovers vs. Derry City

The top two in the League of Ireland meet in the Irish capital this Monday, when Shamrock Rovers host Derry City.

The sides finished first and second last year and occupy the same positions again, but the top half of the standings remains relatively tight.

After a bizarre week which saw Shamrock lose at home to Drogheda United and suffer a narrow defeat with eight men at Cork City, the Irish champions went on to win their first three games of June – scoring nine without conceding.

A draw at Bohemians on Friday has cut their lead at the top ever so slightly, but they remain in the driver’s seat to retain their title from last year.

With a four-point lead over Derry in second, European matters will come into the equation in a few weeks’ time, with Champions League qualification likely to take central focus for manager Stephen Bradley.

Shamrock will know their first qualifying round opponents by the end of the week, as they will face the winners of the preliminary round involving Atletic D’Escaldes, Buducnost Podgorica, Tre Penne and Breidablik.

Derry are also in European action in mid-July, and the two clubs will be given the weekend prior off to focus on those ties, with Derry facing a trip to the Faroe Islands to face HB Torshavn in the Europa Conference League.

This will be the fourth meeting between the Shamrock and Derry already this season, after they faced off in the curtain-raising Super Cup at the start of the season.

Derry came out on top, winning 2-0 on home soil on that occasion, but the away side have won in both encounters in the league this season, with Derry winning 2-1 here at Tallaght and Shamrock winning 2-0 at Brandywell.

That win for Derry was their first in 10 away to Shamrock, but their recent away form is cause for concern.

After remaining unbeaten in their first eight away games of the season – picking up 20 points – Ruaidhri Higgins’s side have now lost their last two on the road.

A narrow 1-0 defeat at Sligo Rovers was followed up by a wounding 4-1 thrashing at the hands of St. Patrick’s Athletic.

Thankfully for Higgins and the Derry faithful, they ended their four-game winless run by seeing off Cork on Friday to capitalise on Shamrock dropping points at Bohemians.

Shamrock Rovers League of Ireland Premier form:

Derry City League of Ireland Premier form:

We say: Shamrock Rovers 1-1 Derry City
In what will be a tensely-fought affair between the top two, there may not be much between the sides.

Shamrock will be determined to avoid defeat at all costs to maintain a healthy margin between themselves and those below them, despite having home advantage here.

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