Ex-Drogheda United and Bray Wanderers manager previews upcoming fixtures
As another Friday and Saturday of League of Ireland action arrives, Cork City have still to lose or draw a league game and we also have the prospect of a Dublin derby between Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians.
As ever, former Drogheda United, Athlone Town and Monaghan United manager Mick Cooke has previewed all of this weekend's fixtures and made his predictions.
Shamrock Rovers' win over Dundalk last time out has pushed them back within touching distance of the Top Four while Bohemians aren't too far above the dreaded bottom three.
"Bohs are totally inconsistent. They went on a four game losing streak, came back and won a game and then lost a game. And now they've lost again," says Mick.
"I saw Rovers against Sligo, Dundalk and Limerick and they were unlucky not to get three points against Limerick which would have been three wins from the last four games."
Mick's Prediction: "Certainly on recurring form in the last couple of weeks, I'd go for a Shamrock Rovers win."
As Stuart Byrne noted earlier this week, Dundalk's form is a concern as the reigning champions fall 15 points off the summit. But a home match against Sligo would on paper look like a home banker.
Mick says: "It was a hard end to last season for Dundalk playing all those Europa League games and the injuries and then losing players to transfers like Andy Boyle, who has been a big loss in defence, and Daryl Horgan. It takes time to get a jigsaw together and now that jigsaw has been disrupted. Stephen Kenny has had to make a lot of changes which he had never had to do. So it's going to be a transitional year for Dundalk. I still think they will be runners up."
Sligo meanwhile are out of the relegation zone at present after a poor start to the season.
"They've gone three games unbeaten and Dundalk have only one win in the last four," says Mick.
"The new manager at Sligo means it also gives the players a new impetus especially with the transfer window looming."
Prediction: "On the balance of Sligo on the up and recent Dundalk performances, I'll go for a draw."
Galway are finally off the bottom, albeit on goal difference but face the side that are running away with the league and are on the hunt for their 13th win in 13.
"I was at the Drogheda-Galway game last Friday night and I thought the overall game was poor. Both teams were very tentative," says Mick.
"On the evidence of last Friday, I can't see Galway stopping Cork."
Prediction: "An away win for Cork".
St Pats fans wouldn't have expected their side to be bottom of the table after a dozen rounds of fixtures, but there they are while Drogheda remain three points clear of the relegation zone.
Mick says: "I don't think Pats will be relegated. They might be involved in a relegation battle but I think the overall experience that they have got will help them.
"If Christy Fagan is back in form, Conan Byrne and Billy Dennehy back up and running to the best of his ability, then I certainly think they should be too strong for Drogheda."
Prediction: "A home win for Pats."
Bray are flying high in second - albeit a long distance behind Cork - but Finn Harps have dropped into the bottom three.
"The attacking threat of Bray compared to Harps when Bray's Achilles heel is their defence means that shortcoming won't be as exposed," says Mick.
"Harps have injuries and have also conceded 10 goals in their last three games which must be a big concern for Ollie Horgan.
Prediction: "Where Bray are at the moment, I'll go for an away win."
Derry's Nathan Boyle and Tommy Whitehead of Limerick ©INPHO/Presseye/Lorcan Doherty
Fourth placed Derry lead Limerick by three points heading into Saturday's game.
"Derry have got back on track with a good win against Bohs last week and then a draw away to Galway," says Mick.
"Limerick seem to be becoming the draw specialists now and Derry with their couple of draws on the road, it will be a very good footballing game."
Prediction: "With the way both sides are performing, I'll go for a draw."