Sligo Rovers v Derry City
HERE WE GO again. Tonight, league leaders Sligo Rovers host Derry City in the weekend’s televised (and liveblogged) game.
“We’ve spoken about how it has been a squad effort so far,” said Sligo Rovers manager, Ian Baraclough, “and not the starting XI that has given us the good start.
“We have two Setanta Cup games and league matches coming up and everyone wants to be involved so that is a nice problem to have. Our small squad has brought us closer together and we’re working well.”
The Bit O’Red are as yet unbeaten of course while Derry travel south knowing they failed to beat Rovers in any of their four league encounters last year. Sligo see Jason McGuinness return to the fray after a back problem while Mark Quigley is also available after serving a six-game suspension.
Derry have doubts over Stephen McLaughlin (hamstring), Shane McEleney (knee), Owen Morrison (calf strain), Ruadhri Higgins (groin strain) and Rory Patterson (inflamed ankle) while Stewart Greacen (knee) will be out for at least eight weeks with a knee complaint.
“We are expecting another very tough test,” Derry boss Declan Devine said, “Sligo are flying high at the minute having had their best start to a season in a long time but we too have started well this season.”
Cork City v Monaghan United
This one seems crucial already. Cork City and Monaghan United will each be looking for their first wins of the season when the bottom two face up at Turner’s Cross this evening. City’s Kalen Spillane has recovered from a back injury but Stephen Mulcahy, Kevin Murray and Neal Horgan all remain sidelined with knee injuries.
“It is still very early in the season,” the Rebel Army boss, Tommy Dunne says, “so there is a long way to go and plenty of time for us to climb up the table. When you are in the middle of a rough spell, people need to dig in, do the basics right, work hard and let everyone in this division know that we are here, we want to stay and we are prepared to fight for it.”
Monaghan are without defender Alan Byrne with a shoulder injury and Aidan Collins is doubtful but Willo McDonagh and Robert Bayly are expected to return. Aidan Collins is fit again.
Monaghan United manager Roddy Collins says: “Surprisingly for Cork they too like us are still looking for their first win and for this reason I believe that this should be a good game for the spectators. Turner’s Cross is a tough venue to get a result in and a share of the points would be an excellent return.”
Drogheda United v St Patrick’s Athletic
St Pat’s will try to follow their stunning win over Shamrock Rovers last Friday as they travel to Hunky Dorys Park tonight. The Saints have a mixed record away to Drogheda in recent times losing 4-3 on the last day of the season last term. They’ve won three and lost three of their previous six visits to Boyneside.
Drogheda’s Paul Crowley is out of the game while Ryan Brennan serves a one match suspension. Cathal Brady is the only long term absentee. St Pat’s have a clean slate other than Aidan Price, who continues to make progress in his recovery from surgery on his ankle over the close season.
“St Pat’s train every day and in my eyes they are a full time outfit,” Drogheda United manager Mick Cooke said, “There won’t be many teams who can do to Shamrock Rovers what they did to them on Friday night and we know we will have a game on our hands. They will be buoyant after that win and they have yet to be beaten in the league.”
St Pat’s boss Liam Buckley meanwhile is expecting a big test in the Wee county. “Any side that can go to Cork and win, and then turn over Derry at home have to be respected. Mick has signed quite a few decent players, including one or two from Monaghan. They’ve started the season particularly well, but more importantly they’re above us, so far from our end of it, we’ll have to apply ourselves right, which hopefully we’ll do,” he said.
UCD v Bohemians
They’re up and running after that defeat of Cork City last week at Dalymount and Bohs will now try to keep that going against the Students tonight.
Bohs boss Aaron Callaghan returns to Belfield, saying: “They’re a fantastic club, it’s a really good system they use and it’s something that I could certainly be looking at here.
“They’ve got the best facilities, the best gym, the best pitches, and they’ve always got a great level of fitness. I’m a bit envious of the facilities they’ve got, certainly on the training side of things.”
Shamrock Rovers v Dundalk
Stephen Kenny will attempt to lift his side after last week’s incredible 5-1 defeat at Inchicore, on the 25th anniversary of the Hoops’ last game at Glenmalure Park in Milltown.
“Everyone was disappointed, to say the least, with the defeat last Friday,” said the boss. “And I think how we respond to it is very important. It’s always important to respond to a defeat like that in a positive way, to roll our sleeves up and make sure that we’re willing to fight hard for each other on the night. We’ll need to work extremely hard to get the desired result against Dundalk and get that game against St Pat’s out of our system.”
Dundalk drew 0-0 with Shelbourne last week then followed that up with an EA SPORTS Cup win over Longford Town while the Hoops beat SD Galway in the same competition on Monday. Rovers are missing Kerrea Gilbert (hamstring), Ciaran Kilduff (broken metatarsal), Stephen O’Donnell (knee cartilage) and Conor Winn (back) through injury. Dundalk continue without Nathan Murphy (toe) and Mark Griffin (groin). Eoghan Osborne is fit after a year out with a fractured tibia but is unlikely to be risked. Ben McLaughlin is available after being rested for the win over Longford.
Shelbourne v Bray Wanderers
These two sides met on Monday night in the League Cup with the Seagulls clinching an extra-time victory.
“This will be totally different,” says Wanderers’ director of football, Pat Devlin. ”I think you will see two totally different squads, but we know what to expect and it’s all to play for, it could go either way. I’m looking forward to it”.
Shels’ Lorcan Fitzgerald suffered a dislocated shoulder and Stephen Hurley broke a number of ribs and a punctured lung in that EA Sports Cup tie while Bray are without injured pair Shane O’Connor (groin) and Stephen Brennan (hamstring).