Mick Cooke's League of Ireland predictions

Former Drogheda United manager looks ahead to weekend fixtures including a Louth derby he knows well

Patrick McEleney, Dundalk

Dundalk's Patrick McEleney celebrates scoring ©INPHO/Ciaran Culligan

The SSE Airtricity League continues again this weekend with a couple of big derbies in the Premier Division.

Ahead of Friday's action, former Drogheda United manager Mick Cooke made his predictions for Newstalk.com.

Dundalk vs Drogheda United

Champions Dundalk go into the Louth derby off the back of a defeat to league leaders Cork City and a derby can be a tricky fixture to bounce back in.

As a former Drogheda manager and player, Mick knows all about the passion around this fixture.

"As a young man, I was lucky enough to play in a few of them as a player and then I managed in them for over three seasons. They're great occasions," he says.

"I enjoyed them as a manager. Obviously they're tense occasions but the supporters love it and among the genuine supports, there's this thing of having the bragging rights before the next one." 

Prediction: "On form, I'd say Dundalk to win that game. Dundalk have the upward curve at the moment and I fancy them to get the three points."

Bohemians vs St Pats 

Another derby sees Bohs and Pats go head to head at Dalymount Park. Bohs have really bounced back and sit fourth in the table, while Pats now have their first win and are third from bottom. 

It eases the pressure on Pats manager Liam Buckley.

"The storm clouds seemed to be gathering over Liam Buckley which is probably a bit unfair after only a handful of games into the season and when you consider what Liam has done for the club. This knee-jerk reaction after just five or six games is amazing," says Mick. 

"As for Bohs, Keith Long has turned them around after their first two games." 

Prediction: "Bohs are a team in good form and I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see Bohemians win this game." 

Derry City vs Bray Wanderers

This fixture is the first league game Derry City will play since the sad passing of club captain Ryan McBride on what will certainly be an emotional day for the club.

Mick feels Derry's love and appreciation for McBride will galvanise the team at Maginn Park.

"The lads will want to play for Ryan and you may get the same response Munster got in their first match after the sad passing of Anthony Foley. They will perform and Ryan will be looking down on them," he says.

Prediction: "To me this will be a home win."  

Galway United vs Sligo Rovers

An all Connacht encounter takes place at Eamon Deacy Park with both sides having endured difficult starts to the season.

"Expectations in the two camps have been a lot better than the return at the moment - Sligo with four points from six games and Galway with two from five games," says Mick.

"Already I think this is a massive game for both of these clubs. Confidence wise both of them need the three points." 

Prediction: "On the evidence of how the games have been going, it's a very hard one to predict. But I'll go for a draw in this one." 

Limerick vs Cork City 

Another all-provincial fixture as the league leaders visit 7th place.

"I don't think Limerick will be one of the teams involved in the relegation battle. I think they'll be a comfortable mid-table team," says Mick. 

"Cork City's Sean Maguire showed last week that not only has he got great awareness for goal but a great awareness for his whole contribution to the game when he set up the two goals against Dundalk." 

Prediction: "I think Limerick will give Cork a very good game but my prediction is Cork to get the three points."

Shamrock Rovers vs Finn Harps

Harps find themselves above Rovers in the table at this early juncture and Mick has been impressed by the Donegal side this season.

"Harps have done very well, probably on a par with Bohs, with two wins and two draws from their last four games. I just think going up to Tallaght and maybe with a team not quite as cute as Shamrock Rovers who are getting some of their own experienced players back, it might be tricky," he says.   

Prediction: "I'd go for a home win in this one."