All eyes on Dalymount for 'massive' derby date as sold-out signs go up
Derby night in Dalymount remains a big draw, no matter where Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers are in the table.
Bohs expect that this evening's showdown in Phibsborough will sell out, with that number swelled by some football tourists.
Two years ago, the hugely popular Copa 90, a UK-based internet channel with over a million YouTube subscribers, sent over a crew to record a piece on a Dalymount meeting between the fierce Dublin rivals - a fixture with a special atmosphere.
And a noticeable feature of last October's meeting between the teams at the old venue was the number of neutral supporters at the fixture who appeared to be fitting the match into a weekend break.
A feature of the advance online sales for this game has again been the number of punters from overseas that will be taking in proceedings.
That's good business for Bohs, but the currency that really matters now is points given they enter this fixture in ninth, one place outside the relegation zone, after suffering five defeats in their last six matches.
Granted, they are only three behind a Rovers side with considerably superior resources but the visitors do come into this encounter with the momentum generated by an impressive win over champions Dundalk last Friday.
The energy and controlled aggression in this game has set a standard and their manager Stephen Bradley has drilled home that point in the preliminaries.
"There's no point in doing what we did against Dundalk and then not show up against Bohs so we've got to continue that," he says. "We need to make sure that we're at it, mentally and physically. I think if we do that the result will look after itself.
"Ronan Finn was different class last week, he set the tempo for the game but if you look all around the pitch there were good performances. We played that way against Cork and we just didn't get the rub of the green that day. We've played like that in a lot of our games in patches.
"The pleasing thing about Dundalk was that we played for 90 minutes like that as a team. We were really good and got the goals we deserved. It's always good mentally for the group to go and beat one of the top teams. This Bohs game is massive for us now."
For Rovers, European qualification would represent a successful 2017. That's the most they can hope for with Cork setting their own pace at the top of the table.
John Caulfield's charges look to make it 13 from 13 when they take on Galway at Eamonn Deacy Park, with the bumpy surface one obstacle they could face.
Galway have improved - and shocked Dundalk a fortnight ago - but Cork skipper John Dunleavy says that the Leesiders have maintained the healthy mindset that has carried them this far even if euphoria is building around the locality.
"The sense of excitement is palpable," said Dunleavy, speaking to this week's LOI Weekly Podcast (which is available on independent.ie)
"But if you look at the management we have, they'll keep us grounded and won't let us get ahead of ourselves.
"We've heard Kenny Shiels interview speaking about the pitch in Galway (after Derry's draw on Monday) but it's the exact same for both teams, whatever way the pitch is it certainly won't be an excuse for us."
Dundalk are playing catch-up and nothing less than three points will do when Sligo Rovers land in Oriel Park. They are already 15 off Cork.
"Things haven't gone the way that we wanted them to but we know that we have a lot of quality in the group," says goalkeeper Gary Rogers. "We need to show the talent that we have.
"Our results haven't been what we wanted and we have been unlucky at times but we aren't making excuses."
Meanwhile, troubled Athlone Town have confirmed the appointment of former boss Roddy Collins as their new manager.
The Midlanders are waiting to hear from the FAI on the investigation into irregular betting patterns around their First Division match with Longford on April 29 after interviews were conducted earlier this week.
Collins - who led Athlone to the First Division title in 2013 - is expected to overhaul the squad in the coming months. Athlone are away to Shelbourne this evening.
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