Mick Cooke's predictions for Friday's League of Ireland action

Ex-Drogheda United looks ahead to Premier Division fixtures

BY Raf Diallo 22:52 Thursday 9 March 2017, 22:52 9 Mar 2017

Limerick manager Martin Russell ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

After two rounds of action, four sides have earned maximum points in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.

Dundalk and Cork City are the two title favourites but Bray Wanderers and Drogheda United have also joined them on six points.

Derry City and Limerick had the chance to do so as well but the floodlights failed in their match last Friday night which led the game to be abandoned.

How will this Friday's fixtures go? Ex-Drogheda United manager Mick Cooke ran the rule over the six games.

Shamrock Rovers vs Derry City

With Rovers back on track after beating Bohemians in the derby and Derry City having looked good in the their only full match so far, Mick feels it's a tough game to call overall.

"I watched Derry in their opening game of the season and I thought they were very, very good, considering how many players they were missing that night," he said.

"It will be a big test certainly for Shamrock Rovers playing such an experienced team." 

But he feels Robbie Keane training with the Tallaght club will be a boost, especially for the younger players.

Prediction: "I would maybe favour Shamrock Rovers to edge it at home".

Finn Harps vs Galway United

Finn Harps have lost their opening two games, narrowly to Cork City and then coming out the wrong side of a thriller at Bray Wanderers.

Mick feels the Donegal club can count themselves a little unlucky so far, and they are facing a side now who are struggling after their own back to back defeats. 

"Galway have made a poor start, losing at home to Drogheda. And you would sort of be counting where you would think you would get your points at the start of the season. I'm sure Shane Keegan certainly thought he would get three points against Drogheda in their first home game. But then to lose so emphatically down in Galway... and I saw them on the TV and the manager looked very down and Stephen Folan looked very down. Only two games into the season, that would be a bit disconcerting." 

Prediction: "I think they will give Galway a hell of a game and I wouldn't be surprised if Finn Harps win that one."

Drogheda United’s Richie Purdy with Galway United’s Colm Horgan ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Sligo Rovers vs St Patrick's Athletic

Bottom of the table are Sligo Rovers though, on goal difference, after 5-1 and 4-0 defeats. St Pats are also on zero points but Mick tips them to bounce back.

"I think Liam Buckley will get it right. He has the experience there and you only have to look at his success record over the last couple of seasons," he said.

"Sligo Rovers have got off to a poor start and it's amazing that the bottom four sides are playing one another this weekend so something has to give. But another defeat for Sligo would lead to massive pressure on the manager there. Liam at Pats will certainly get it right. He's been there and done it before." 

Prediction: "I think Pats will take this one." 

Dundalk vs Limerick

The champions have overcome their first two challengers and face a Limerick side that thrashed Sligo Rovers 5-1 and were 1-1 with Derry City before the lights went out last weekend. 

The challenge Mick sees with Limerick is how manager Martin Russell sets up without the ball.

"If they can defend properly, Limerick will be a force. They certainly won't be in any relegation problems," said Mick. 

"This will be a tough game for Dundalk. They play the Top 6 teams in their first six games plus a promoted team that won the championship."

Prediction: "I would have a sneaky feeling Dundalk will just edge this one. But it will be a hard game for Dundalk."

Bray Wanderers Aaron Greene scores their third goal against Finn Harps ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Drogheda United vs Cork City 

Despite Drogheda's strong start, Cork are overwhelming favourites with this match up against Mick's former club. 

However Mick doesn't see it that way: "Certainly, I think the small pitch in Drogheda will help the home side against a team like Cork."

But Mick has been impressed by last season's runners up Cork. 

"They're a big strong, physical team with plenty of work ethic. I don't think people gave them the credit for the win they had up in Ballybofey. It's always good to win up in Ballybofey. And certainly what they done to Galway last Friday will raise their confidence a small bit," he said.

Prediction: "I just think Cork will slightly edge that one."

Bohemians vs Bray Wanderers

Their results have been a stark contrast so far with Bray flying high and Bohs languishing towards the bottom. 

"It's a big game for Bohs more so than Bray because Bray have made a good start. I think certainly Bohemians need something from this game to get their season running. The following week they're away to Limerick on the Monday so I think they need something out of this game. A draw would be a good result for them with the thoughts of going to Limerick on Monday," said Mick. 

Prediction: "I think Bray will take the three points." 

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