'Hoops need to go on a run'
Shamrock Rovers are heading into a season-defining week as the next seven days will determine whether the Hoops are realistic contenders for the league title, according to veteran midfielder Killian Brennan.
Having found themselves off the pace in the title race at times - a run of three losses in four games in April shunted Rovers down to sixth place in the table - they have found form and a win at home to Derry City tonight would leave Stephen Bradley's side just four points behind table-toppers Dundalk, though the Lilywhites would have two games in hand.
The league title is still likely to be a face-off between Dundalk and Cork City, but should Rovers manage to get a nine-point haul from three games in seven days against Derry (tonight), St Pat's (Friday) and Galway United (next Tuesday), anything is possible.
"A lot depends on what Dundalk, and also Cork do, if Dundalk keep up the form they've had for the last two years then they will win the league again," says Brennan.
"You have teams like Cork, ourselves and Derry who have a bit of a chance, with Dundalk involved in the Europe League the rest of us can hope that they slip up in the league. I know from being in Europe, it's not easy to keep going and deal with all the matches you have to play, it will be hard for Dundalk to compete in Europe and then have a strong enough team to win in the league on a Monday night.
"We need to get a few wins together and if we can get three wins from three over the next few days, we'll be in a stronger position. It's easy for us to say that, I am sure Kenny Shiels is saying that to his players in Derry ahead of this game tonight, so we have to win as many as possible.
"If we can do that, maybe we'll have a chance. Momentum is key, if we can win tonight and beat Pat's, we'll be putting real pressure on the top two, all we can do is put pressure on them. But we have found it hard to win a few games on the bounce, there's no point in us winning one game and then dropping silly points the next week," added Brennan.
Consistency has dogged Rovers this season, during Pat Fenlon's time and also under his successor Bradley.
"We've struggled with that," says Brennan. "Earlier in the summer we had good wins over Bohs and Pat's in the Dublin derbies but then we drew with Bray and lost to Sligo.
"To me, any team who wants to stay with Dundalk will have to go on a winning run, you might need eight or nine wins to keep pace, but we'll see where we are in the table next Tuesday, we're in the hunt at least."
With Brennan fit again after a hip flexor injury, Rovers are at full strength, bar long-term injury victim Luke Byrne. Derry could again start Austrian signing Maximilian Karner, who made his debut last week.