League Preview: Shamrock Rovers -v- Shelbourne

Aaron Greene scores for Shamrock Rovers against Drogheda United in Tallaght Stadium on Monday 29 April 2024

Aaron Greene scores for Shamrock Rovers against Drogheda United in Tallaght Stadium on Monday 29 April 2024 Credit: Thomas Flinkow (ETPhotos)


Shamrock Rovers welcome league leaders Shelbourne to Tallaght Stadium as the five-in-a-row chasers look to keep on the tails of the unlikely pacesetters.

Rovers’ form has been indifferent in recent weeks with a run of four games without a win being broken by a morale boosting win over Derry City on Monday although they have won just twice in their last eight games and sit third, six points behind Shelbourne.

This is a title six pointer in every way. Win and the Hoops can close to within three of the visitors. Lose and the gap will be stretched to nine.

Stephen Bradley’s side are yet to beat Shelbourne this season although the two games were played in Tolka Park so he is relishing a chance to have a crack at Damien Duff’s side at home in front of a full house.

“There wasn’t much in the two away games. We know with the last game in Tolka, the pitch effectively killed the game as a spectacle. There was no quality in the game at all and there was nothing either team could do about it. In the first game, we didn’t start for the first twenty minutes and they punished us. So we know we need to focus and be ready for Shels. They’re top of the league on merit and there for a reason. We need to be ready for them and respect them.”

Bradley admires Shelbourne’s resolve and their ability to hang on to leads and as we saw on Monday away to St Patrick’s Athletic, their nack for late goals.


“They’ve improved season on season. They’ve scored a lot of late goals and stay in games. And when they stay in games they have quality. So, if you don’t respect Shels and what they’re really good at in the game, you get punished and beaten. We have to make sure that we’re really focussed from the first minute.”


Sean Kavanagh came off after 35 minutes on Monday night while Dylan Watts, Richie Towell, Sean Hoare and Lee Grace will be monitored ahead of the game.


Darragh Burns, Rory Gaffney and Gary O’Neill remain sidelined.


Shels arrive buoyed by a Friday, Monday double in particular a 96th minute winner in Inchicore on Monday night.

It was a much needed back to back wins for the Reds who had previously only won once in their last nine games but remarkably haven’t been nudged off top spot.

Duff has been trying to get his squad to recover as quickly as possible ahead of a mammoth task in Tallaght and he feels the nature of Monday’s win over Pats will help get the energy levels replenished.

“Lads performed well. Still if we didn’t get the winner, it would’ve been a good point against difficult opposition and a solid manager. We would’ve bounced in regardless, that’s how this group goes. Listen I said it and I mean it, one of the great things in the world not just football is a last minute winner. We enjoyed the moment, but we absolutely parked 30 seconds after the game. Since then, just recovery and staff preparing for Rovers, everything else that came before won’t matter tomorrow night. It’s a tough game and we know that.”

Since returning to the Premier Divison, Shels have caused problems for the champions in Tallaght drawing 2-2 in 2023 after losing 3-2 in the dying embers in 2022.

Duff knows his side are capable but he is looking for a complete performance on Friday.

“We’ve played well in spells there. They’re the best team in the country for a reason, so you won’t have it your way for 100 minutes. We’ve gone there and played well for 45, 60, 70 minutes. Not quite sure we’ve put in a 100-minute performance yet. I think it’s time we do that.”

“The word energy was used again. In any sport in the world, any team, if you don’t deliver energy along with your performance, you won’t win any football matches. With the game on Monday, it’s been about recovery, preparation, and being ready to bring your best on Friday. Everything for the last 24 hours, 36 hours, were parked to let the guys recover and bounce into tomorrow ready to deliver.”

Liam Burt is ineligible for selection which will be a big blow for Shels but Shane Griffin has returned from injury and Will Jarvis crucially will be fit after going off in the first half on Monday.


Shamrock Rovers

Injured: Seán Kavanagh Rory Gaffney, Darragh Burns and Gary O’Neill

Doubts: Dylan Watts, Richie Towell, Lee Grace and Seán Hoare.

Suspended: None



Injured: None.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.

Unavailable: Liam Burt (terms of loan).