Shamrock Rovers face Finn Harps before their European journey gets under way on Tuesday. Back-to-back Dublin derby victories have the leaders primed for tonight’s clash, although Sean Gannon expects Harps to pose a tough challenge.
“We're fully focused on Finn Harps,” said Gannon.
“Ballybofey is a really hard place to go. It's a tight ground and the fans are really close to you. You can see the equaliser they got against St Pat’s the other night, in the 96th minute. They always fight until the end.”
Stephen Bradley’s side arrive in Donegal ten points clear, albeit having played two more games than Dundalk in second. Gannon stresses they must not get distracted by the glamour of European ties.
“Europe will look after itself when the time comes,” Gannon said, with Maltese side Hibernians to come on Tuesday.
“I know from experience if you start getting ahead of yourself, you start taking your eye off the ball and dropping points. You can't be thinking about the trips away. The league games are our bread and butter.”
St Patrick’s Athletic welcome eight-placed Drogheda to Inchicore. The Saints’ form has been mixed this season with two wins in their last eight, a statistic Joe Redmond is keen to improve.
“We’re well capable of bouncing back,” said Redmond.
“I think performance-wise we’ve been there. It’s just being more resilient and not giving away sloppy goals. It was a kick in the teeth for us (on Monday).”
Redmond, who has played every minute of St Pat’s league campaign so far, expects a difficult game against his former club.
“They did lose a lot of good players last year, but Kevin (Doherty) has done a good job in recruiting, and they’ve picked up a lot of good results recently. We know what type of game it’s going to be.”
Elsewhere, UCD face a daunting trip to Oriel Park. Dundalk could close the gap on Rovers to four points if they win their two games in hand. The lack of European football this summer may also work in their favour, as they eye a first league title since 2019.
“The consensus might be that UCD are struggling because they are bottom of the table, but they have still been very competitive,” said Stephen O’Donnell.
“Nobody should be complacent. We have got to remember where we have come from in the sense that we have made massive strides, but we are still nowhere near the finished article.”
Although Derry travel to Dalymount in third, Ruaidhrí Higgins side have won one of their last eight games. They host Riga FC in Europa Conference League qualifying on Thursday and will be hoping to enter Europe off the back of a win in the capital.
"It's been a fairly happy hunting ground for us but none of that will count for much,” said Higgins. “Bohemians have brilliant attacking options. We have to be on our guard and try to stamp our own authority on the game."