Dundalk v Drogheda United (7.05pm, live on RTÉ 2)
DESPITE THE OFF-FIELD problems in Oriel Park, Dundalk come into tonight’s Louth derby looking for a third straight win after beating beating St Patrick’s Athletic in the league then knocking out non-league St Patrick’s CY in the FAI Cup.
This is the third meeting between the sides this season and Lilywhites boss Sean McCaffrey is confident that his side can take all three points, although they will have to do so without the suspended Michael Rafter.
“We have played them twice this year, drew one and lost one but in my opinion, we were the better team on both occasions,” McCaffrey said. “Having said that Drogheda are doing very well. Mick (Cooke) deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done up there.”
After a strong start to the season, Drogheda are winless in their last five league games, a run which stretches back to 20 April. Gavin Brennan is suspended while Stephen Quigley is close to a return from an ankle injury.
Mick Cooke’s men had a comfortable 6-1 win against Mayfield United in the cup last week and the manager is hoping for more of the same.
It’s nice to get back to winning ways. I think we showed what we are capable of doing but now we need to start registering wins in the league.
Bohemian FC v Sligo Rovers (7.45pm)
Bohemians come into tonight’s game after back-to-back wins in the league and cup but they face a tough test if they are to continue that form when leaders Sligo Rovers visit Dalymount Park. Manager Aaron Callaghan serves a one-game touchline ban following his dismissal in the defeat to Derry so Owen Heary takes charge in the dugout.
Dinny Corcoran (groin) and Dave Mulcahy (calf) both face late fitness tests while John O’Connor (infection), Neil Harney (illness), Andy McNulty (hamstring) and Luke Byrne (international duty) all miss out.
“We need to be on our game to deal with them, particularly Danny North,” Callaghan told Bohemians.ie. “Having worked with him last year at Pats I know a lot of his qualities. We need to keep him quiet and, if we can do that, we’re 80 per cent of the way there to stop them scoring goals.”
Sligo will be looking for a win to take their seven-point advantage at the summit into the mid-season break but have to do without Romauld Boco (international duty), Alan Keane (suspended) and the injured pair of Joseph Ndo and Iarfhlaith Davoren.
“Training has been bubbly, high-tempo and we have worked very hard to get to where we are in the league,” Bit O’Red boss Ian Baraclough told the club’s website. “We want to finish on a positive note and keep that lead so we’re looking forward to the trip.”
Bray Wanderers v UCD (7.45pm)
Pat Devlin has a full complement of players to choose from as Bray look to bounce back from Monday’s FAI Cup disappointment when UCD visit the Carlisle Grounds tonight. Bray edged a 3-2 win when the sides met in Belfield earlier this season and Devlin is predicting another tight encounter.
“They are a very good side, there is not a lot between us,” he told BrayWanderers.ie. “It could go either way but we will be looking for the three points.”
An injury-hit UCD took a huge scalp with a 1-0 win against Sligo Rovers last time out in the league but the Students are still without Ger Barron (foot), Chris Mulhall (groin), Cillian Morrison (hip) and Sean Russell (back). With a three-week break before their next league outing against Dundalk, manager Martin Russell told UCDsoccer.com that his players are ready for a rest.
I know that the players are looking forward to it and in terms of the squad it provides us with a good opportunity to get some rest and recuperation. At times this season we have been down to the bare bones in terms of injuries so in that regard the break is a positive thing.
Derry City v Shelbourne (7.45pm)
Fourth-place Derry have clicked into form just before the mid-season break and will be looking to make it four league wins on the bounce when they host Shelbourne tonight. The Candystripes are without Stewart Greacen and Kevin Derry (both knee) while Ryan McBride is suspended.
“I was in Tolka Park watching them on Monday evening and they looked more than capable of turning over any side as we well know,” manager Declan Devine said. “We know that we must be on our guard to get anything from this game but I feel we can push on and get our fourth win in a row.”
The game marks Shelbourne’s first visit to the Brandywell since October 2010 and, coming into tonight on the high following Monday’s cup replay win against Bray, the Reds know that a win would see them draw level with Derry on points.
Lorcan Fitzgerald and Stephen Hurley are both still sidelined as they continue their recovery from lengthy absences, and Alan Mathews will also have to do without John Sullivan following his red card against Bohemians a fortnight ago. Gareth Matthews faces a late fitness test.
Monaghan United v St Patrick’s Athletic (8pm)
Roddy Collins’s Monaghan are still stuck to the bottom of the Premier Division table but they welcome St Pat’s to Gortakeegan in their best form yet with two wins and a draw from the last three games. Chris Bennion and Owen Humphrey are both expected to be fit for selection but Aidan Collins, Robert Bayly, Gareth O’Connor, Shaun Maher and John Reilly are still out with injury.
“We had a close encounter against them in Richmond Park,” Collins said of the 1-1 draw the last time the sides met, adding “If we are to get a result against them we will have to be at our recent best.”
St Pat’s suffered their first league defeat of the season last time out against Dundalk and will be targeting all three points to keep Sligo Rovers in their sights. James Chambers is still ruled out with a knee injury and is expected to need a few more weeks before returning.
Shamrock Rovers v Cork City (8pm)
Shamrock Rovers will be hoping to avoid a repeat of their last meeting with Cork City when the sides clash again in Tallaght Stadium tomorrow night. On that occasion, the Hoops required a stoppage-time equaliser from Gary Twigg to come away with a 1-1 draw and they’ve since added four more stalemates in their last six league games.
Manager Stephen Kenny is without Sean Gannon (ankle) and Ken Oman (hamstring) but is hopeful that his side’s recent defensive strength will continue.
“We have only conceded one goal in the last three games,” Kenny told ShamrockRovers.ie, “and that was a late consolation when we were winning well against Drogheda. That is a result of us tightening up at the back and we will be looking to keep another clean sheet tomorrow night.”
For their part, City are unbeaten in their last five league games and put six past Athlone in the FAI Cup last weekend. Tommy Dunne has a long list of injuries to contend with though with Shane O’Connor (foot), Stephen Mulcahy, Kevin Murray and Neal Horgan (all knee) definitely out.
Davin O’Neill (hip), Colin Healy and Gearóid Morrissey (both groin) are all doubts as is captain Dan Murray. Ex-Shamrock Rovers man Danny Murphy is suspended.
Dunne said: “We performed reasonably well against Rovers in our previous meeting; they had quite a bit of possession, but we possibly had the more clear-cut chances on the night. I think we are a better side now than we were then.
“We realise that it will be a tough ask, so we need to start the game well, and move the ball around.”