A humiliating 4-0 defeat against Shamrock Rovers last time out means that Shels have to hope that they can revive the form which brought them seven points from their opening three games. The Reds had been going along fairly well - beating Bohs and Derry and drawing with Sligo Rovers - but the loss to their cross-city rivals last week has been a major setback, not least because of the repercussions.
After Dean Delany was sent off for sliding in rashly on Billy Dennehy - thus giving away the penalty which Gary Twigg converted for the first Hoops goal - Shelbourne will be without their regular keeper this week. Paul Skinner, who didn't have an inspiring match himself in Tallaght after coming on as a substitute, should come in in his place.
Paul Byrne, still out through injury, is the only other enforced absence but it wouldn't be a surprise to see a few more changes in a Shels side which looked markedly out of sorts against Rovers. Manager Alan Mathews felt that last Friday was "a very disappointing night overall" but his side can draw some hope for this week from their recent outings against Pat's.
They beat the Inchicore side over two legs in last year's FAI Cup semi-final. In fact, the last time Pat's took any points from Shels was in March 2006 - when the sides drew 2-2 in Richmond Park.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
Two draws from their last two games may have dented confidence a bit, but Liam Buckley's side have big ambitions for this season. A derby win against one of their traditional rivals this Friday might just be the spark needed to ignite a St Pat's squad which has been misfiring of late.
The Saints were held to a 0-0 draw at Dalymount Park by Bohemians last Sunday, and could only draw 1-1 at home with Monaghan United the week before. They still sit in fourth place in the table after wins against Bray and Dundalk in their first two matches and have conceded just one goal so far in the league.
Defender Kenny Browne acknowledges his team’s strengths at the back: “It has been so far so good, and probably the one goal we’ve conceded so far was from a mistake."
"We’ve got sterner tests in the matches ahead," Browne added, "with the likes of Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers to come.” But at times it has looked like their problem might be scoring, a predicament which might be exacerbated this week with the continued absence of the suspended Dean Kelly. Aidan Price is the only other absentee, through injury.
On Friday's opponents, Liam Buckley says he's well aware of the Shels challenge. “Unlike other teams, they’ve managed to hold on to the bulk of their squad so Friday’s game will be a tough challenge.
“We’ll be looking for a good performance from our lads, as we know our support in Tolka Park is always fantastic.”
Referee: Alan Kelly
Shelbourne have won three of the last five competitive matches between these two sides, with the other two ending in draws.
August 2002 was the last time Pat's beat Shels in the league, with goals from current UCD manager Martin Russell and Tony Bird giving a Pat Dolan-managed Saints side a 2-1 win.
Four of the last five competitive meetings of Shels and Pat's have had three goals or more.
Shelbourne 13/8; Draw 11/5; St Patrick's Athletic 13/8
Shelbourne 1-1 St Patrick’s Athletic
Shelbourne Injury News: Paul Byrne
Shelbourne Suspension News: Dean Delany
St Patrick’s Athletic Injury News: Aidan Price
St Patrick’s Athletic Suspension News: Dean Kelly
Niall Farrell is our correspondent at Tolka Park, covering the goings-on at Shelbourne. You can visit Niall's website for further information and contact details- niallf.net.