Mick Cooke previews Shamrock Rovers vs Bohs and the weekend's action

The second Friday and Saturday of the 2017 League of Ireland season is coming up

Shamrock Rovers, League of Ireland, Stephen Bradley, derby, preview, Bohemians

Shamrock Rovers Manager Stephen Bradley ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The opening weekend of the 2017 League of Ireland season threw up some eye-catching performances and results.

This Friday, the big one is the Dublin derby between Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians, while last season's Top Two of Dundalk and Cork City will look to make it two wins out of two in 2017.

Ex-Drogheda United manager Mick Cooke has previewed this Friday and Saturday's fixtures for Newstalk.com.

Shamrock Rovers vs Bohemians

Both sides lost to Dundalk and Derry City respectively last week and Mick highlights defensive issues for Bohs who went down 4-1.

"My fear for Bohemians would certainly be down through their centre backs and not having someone to protect them the way Nicky Low protected Derry City's defence. I thought Bohs were very frantic in possession. They worked hard in fairness to them but I just thought Derry were more controlled in their possession," he said.

"There's a long way to go but I felt certainly Bohemians worked very, very hard but a bit of guile was missing."

Mick tips Shamrock Rovers to win the derby at home and he feels the Tallaght-based side will have learned a lot from the defeat to champions Dundalk.

"Overall, I think it's a massive game for both teams for different reasons," he says.

"I think Stephen [Bradley] needs to win if he is to lay down a marker for Shamrock Rovers to be a Top Four team and Bohemians minimum need to get a draw. Bohs need something. Very quickly you can become isolated and if Bohs are beaten this weekend, it's six points obviously gone from their first two games."

Prediction: "I'll go for Shamrock Rovers but a close one".

 Bray Wanderers vs Finn Harps

The fixture list has been kind to Bray Wanderers in the first few rounds of fixtures according to Mick and he expects Harry Kenny's side to lay down a marker early on.

"So this has to be a great advantage. The result last week was a massive result," says Mick, referencing the victory at St Pats.

"I certainly think they will be expecting another three points," he says.

As for Finn Harps, Mick feels, "It's going to be a long season for Finn Harps. I think Paddy McCourt coming in brought a great buzz around the place but how effective Paddy can be, I don't know. Paddy would be effective, I think, in a better team."  

Prediction: "I'd go for a Bray victory".

Cork City vs Galway United

A narrow 1-0 win for Cork City thanks to the prolific Sean Maguire's winner saw last season's runner up come away from Finn Harps with a valuable result in a potentially tricky fixture.

They are clear favourites as Galway United visit Turner's Cross.

"I think Cork are odds on for this one," says Mick, who feels the opening night win up in Donegal should not be underestimated in terms of difficulty.

Sean Maguire

Meanwhile Galway United had a good first half at home to Drogeda United last time out but ended up slipping to a home defeat in Shane Keegan's first league game in charge.

"He wasn't pleased with their second half last week. They played well in the first half but the second half they were quite poor," says Mick of Galway.

Prediction: "So I think certainly it's certainly another three points for Cork."

Drogheda United vs St Patrick's Athletic 

Pats, who have European spots ambitions, will look to bounce back quickly from their loss to Bray.

"It's a massive game already for Pats. I think if Cork win, Dundalk win again, all of a sudden you're six points adrift of your main contenders and I feel Pats need to get three points out of this game, if they're to make a statement after the slip-up last week," says Mick.

Newly promoted Drogheda made a great start by winning in Galway which was a "fantastic three points" for Mick's former team.

However, the Louth club have lost Killian Brennan to a broken collarbone which is a big blow.

Mick says: "He is a major loss. I imagine he'll be out for six or seven weeks, maybe more. It's a massive loss for Drogheda. To get him to Drogheda was a massive coup for Pete Mahon in the off-season."

Prediction: "I would go on this one, for a Pat's victory". 

 Derry City vs Limerick

Both sides enjoyed spectacular 4-1 and 5-1 wins respectively from their opening night's work and for Mick "this is the most intriguing game of the weekend" outside of the Dublin derby.

"I was in Dalymount last week and I thought Derry were very, very good when you consider that they were short of a few players," says Mick.

"For Limerick, Rodrigo Tosi has been at clubs all over the world but to come in and get a hat-trick in his first competitive game was fantastic."

Prediction: "It could go either way and I might just give a sneaky chance to Limerick."

Sligo Rovers vs Dundalk 

Tosi's hat-trick came against Sligo in a 5-1 drubbing and it doesn't get any easier for the Bit o'Red with the champions visiting the Showgrounds.

"That was an awful beating for Sligo in their first game of the season. They got off to a bad start last year and in fairness, it was turned around and they finished fifth in the league. But to start off poorly again in the manner of that defeat to a promoted team, really Dave Robertson will have to get his thinking cap on this weekend," says Mick, highlighting the danger of ebbing confidence.

Dundalk are going for a four-in-a-row and got the business done against Shamrock Rovers and will be favourites again.  

Prediction: "It's in Dundalk's favour over the defeat Sligo had last week. Sligo will be very, very cautious which I think will give Dundalk the opportunity to go forward and win the game."