Bohemian FC v Shamrock Rovers (Dalymount Park, 7.45pm)
BOHEMIANS SELDOM NEED additional motivation when old rivals Shamrock Rovers visit but after losing last week’s Dublin derby in injury-time to St Pat’s, the Gypsies will be doubly determined to recover the momentum they had before the mid-season break.
Goals from Gary Twigg and Billy Dennehy gave Rovers a 2-0 when the sides met in the league at the end of March, and Bohs boss Aaron Callaghan says his players won’t need any encouragement to rise to tonight’s occasion.
“I don’t change anything in relation to the training for a match like this,” Callaghan said, “but from the players’ perspective it is easier to get motivated for a game against Rovers. It might be a little harder against one of the so-called smaller teams.”
Rovers moved to within five points of league leaders Sligo with a laboured 3-2 win against 10-man Shelbourne last week and manager Stephen Kenny feels that they still have plenty more to offer.
“Our players have worked very hard during and since the break, and have been rewarded with two good wins for that hard work. But we want to push on, and now is the time for that.”
Team news Bohs are hoping to have Owen Heary (hamstring) back from injury but Lee Dixon (toe) remains out. Dave Scully is suspended following last week’s sending-off against St Pat’s but defender Evan McMillan is available again.
Rovers are still without Ciaran Kilduff (foot) and Sean Gannon (ankle).
Form Bohemian DLWDL Shamrock Rovers LWDDW
Odds Bohemian 7/2 Draw 23/10 Shamrock Rovers 4/5
Referee R Rogers
Bray Wanderers v Cork City (Carlisle Grounds, 7.45pm)
PAT DEVLIN KNOWS that Bray will have to cut out the silly defensive mistakes if they are to have any chance when an in-form Cork City visit the Carlisle Grounds this evening.
Devlin slammed his side’s sloppiness in last Friday’s 3-1 defeat to Drogheda and then watched as they went 3-0 down inside 21 minutes in their EA Sports Cup quarter-final against Limerick on Monday evening.
The Seagulls’ league form has been better, taking seven points from the last 15 on offer, and a win tonight would see them leapfrog Cork and move further away from the danger zone.
Cork also found themselves behind early on when they resumed their league campaign against Derry last week. Jason Byrne got Bray’s goal in the 1-1 draw at Turner’s Cross earlier this season, and as the veteran striker nears his landmark 200th, manager Tommy Dunne needs no reminding of his talents.
“He has been one of the standout performers this season and has a fantastic record,” Dunne said. “We know it is going to be tough; in fairness to Bray they are playing some good football and they are a threat to any team in the division.”
Team news Bray will wait until just before kick-off before deciding whether or not to include defender Pierce Sweeney, who has missed recent games through illness.
Shane O’Connor (arm) and Stephen Mulcahy (knee) both miss out for Cork, although Mulcahy has returned to training and should soon be ready for a return to action. Neil Horgan (calf) came through unscathed after coming on as a substitute against Derry last week, while Dan Murray (groin) was due to train yesterday evening. John Dunleavy is available following his one-game suspension.
Form Bray WDLWL Cork DWDDD
Odds Bray 9/5 Draw 23/10 Cork 11/8
Referee D Hancock
Derry City v Drogheda United (Brandywell, 7.45pm)
DERRY CITY WILL be hoping to end their recent slump of three games without a win when they host high-flying Drogheda United tonight, and Declan Devine is readying his players for a tough physical encounter.
Mick Cooke’s men took home all three points when the sides met at Hunky Dorys Park at the end of March and they’ve continued their excellent league form since, joining St Pat’s and Shamrock Rovers in their efforts to reel in league leaders Sligo.
“Drogheda are a very good team and one of the most physical sides in the country,” Devine said. “They are direct in their approach and out-powered us when we last played them.”
Drogheda have hit the ground running since the mid-season break, following up their league win against Bray by beating Louth rivals Dundalk on penalties in their EA Sports Cup quarter-final clash on Monday.
Team news Stewart Greacen and Ryan McBride are both suspended following their respective red cards in Derry’s draw against Cork and EA Sports Cup defeat against Sligo Rovers. Owen Morrison is an injury doubt.
Drogheda will give late fitness tests to Brian Gannon, Sean Brennan and Philip Hand before settling on their squad.
Form Derry LWWLD Drogheda DLDWW
Odds Derry 5/6 Draw 12/5 Drogheda 16/5
Referee N Doyle
Dundalk v Sligo Rovers (Oriel Park, 7.45pm)
TABLE-TOPPERS SLIGO ROVERS have only taken one point from the last six on offer in the league, and with the chasing pack closing in, the leaders need to get back to winning ways when they resume their campaign against Dundalk in Oriel Park tonight.
After a physical contest against Dundalk in the EA Sports Cup on Monday, Lilywhites boss Sean McCaffrey hopes that Sligo’s emphasis on passing football will bring the best out of his side.
“They are a footballing side and they are top of the league, deservedly so,” McCaffrey said. “I don’t mind playing Sligo because their style of play suits us, unlike playing Drogheda. It isn’t a physical battle, which is great for us.
“We produced probably our best half of football against Sligo at The Showgrounds in March and I see no reason why we can’t do the same at Oriel Park.”
Team news Dundalk goalkeeper Ger Hanley (broken wrist) is out while Conor McDonald (ankle) is a doubt. Derek Foran (ankle) is expected to be fit, and Michael Rafter and Stephen McDonnell return from suspension. Youngsters Ben McLaughlin and Bob McKenna are both unavailable.
Sligo welcomed back Joseph Ndo from injury in midweek but Alan Keane and Jason McGuinness are suspended. Mark Quigley (calf) is a doubt.
Form Dundalk LLWLD Sligo WWWLD
Odds Dundalk 15/2 Draw 3/1 Sligo 2/5
Referee D McKeon
St Patrick’s Athletic v Shelbourne (Richmond Park, 7.45pm)
IT’S DERBY NIGHT again for St Patrick’s Athletic, and after Christy Fagan snatched all three points with a late winner against Bohs last week, the Saints will be looking to make it a Dublin double against Shelbourne.
Despite being reduced to 10 men early in their own clash against Shamrock Rovers last week, Shelbourne made life very difficult for the champions and were desperately unlucky to escape on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline.
“Alan Mathews is again doing a very good job with Shels this season, ” Pat’s manager Liam Buckley said. “He always has his side well prepared, he has his team well organised all the time, but at the same time they have a lot of players who pose a lot of problems in attacking areas.
“They always pose a threat so we’ll have to be 100 per cent concentrated at all times.”
Team news Aside from long-term absentee Mark Rossiter, who is recovering from a cruciate injury, Jake Kelly (hamstring) is St Pat’s only fresh concern.
Shels are without the suspended Anto Murphy and midfield general Glenn Cronin is a doubt with an ankle problem. Lorcan Fitzgerald and Philly Gorman are both expected to return from injury.
Form Pat’s WDDLW Shelbourne WLLWL
Odds Pat’s 4/6 Draw 12/5 Shelbourne 9/2
Referee A Buttimer
Airtricity League First Division fixtures (all Friday, 7.45pm unless stated)
- Athlone Town v SD Galway
- Limerick FC v Finn Harps
- Mervue United v Longford Town
- Wexford Youths v Waterford United (Friday, 8pm)