Bohemians v St Patrick’s Athletic (7.45pm, Dalymount Park)
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC make the short trip to Phibsboro for the first of two Dublin derbies tonight.
The Saints, who are third in the table, have a game in-hand over Sligo Rovers and Drogheda United and will be keen to close the gap on the top two against the Gypsies.
Bohs are three places back in sixth and manager Aaron Callaghan says he is looking for his side to bounce back from a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sligo Rovers earlier in the week.
“I go into all matches thinking of them as tough games, whoever it’s against,” Callaghan said. “But the games against the top-of-the-table teams are ones I really look forward to because I believe if we get our performance right we can give any team a game.”
Pat’s manager Liam Buckley told stpatsfc.com: ”We’re really coming into the final stretch of games and there’s still a lot to play for so we’re all looking forward to the run-in. Bohs will be tricky opponents as they’ve shown in the previous two games this season.
“They got a great goal and led for most of the game against us in Richmond a few months back, so we know what they’re capable of. Aaron Callaghan will have his side well set-up so we’ll have to put in a good performance to win.”
For Bohs, new signing Garrett O’Connor is unlikely to feature as he is not match-fit while Ryan McEvoy (ankle) and Owen Heary (back) are out through injury and Andy McNulty, who was replaced by Craig Sexton against Sligo after pulling up in the warm-up, faces a late fitness test. Kevin Feely, meanwhile, returns from his one-match suspension.
Pat’s have Darren Meehan back from suspension and strike duo Dean Kelly and Stephen O’Flynn return from their respective injuries. Brazilian Hernany Macedo, a recent arrival at the club, is available for selection but the game has come too soon for Mark Rossiter.
Bray Wanderers v Drogheda United (7.45pm, Carlisle Grounds)
Bray Wanderers host second-placed Drogheda United with one win from their last six games.
When the sides last met at the Carlisle Grounds back in March, goals from Jason Byrne and Dean Zambra were not enough as the visitors recorded a 4-2 win.
After the disappointment of seeing his side lose to UCD last Friday, the Seagulls’ Director of Football Pat Devlin said: ”If we can get back to clean sheets then we have a chance”.
Drogheda left it late to snatch a dramatic win over rivals Dundalk in the Louth derby last weekend and manager Mick Cooke said:
“Well we have re-captured the vibrancy we had at the start of the season. We have had a few hiccups but we are back on form.
At the start of the season you always say, if you drop points, that you can make it up later on in the year. Well now we are in that later part and we can’t afford to drop anything especially if we want to keep pace with Sligo Rovers and keep ahead of Shamrock Rovers and St Pat’s.
“No games from here on in are going to be easy, we’ve never had an easy game in Bray and Friday night will be no exception, but we need to keep winning and that’s all we can focus on doing.”
Legendary League of Ireland striker Jason Byrne is suspended after his sending off against St Pat’s while Dave Webster is also sidelined with a one-match ban. Otherwise, Devlin has a full pack to choose from.
For the Drogs, John Sullivan is doubtful after sustaining a knock, while Gavin Brennan and Alan McNally are serving bans.
Drogheda United’s Gavin Brennan and Adam Hanlon of Bray Wanderers. Credit: INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Derry City v Cork City (7.45pm, Brandywell)
Cork City head to Derry with several absentees to deal with.
Tommy Dunne is without eight first team players for the trip to the Brandywell due to a number of reasons.
Speaking to CorkCityFC.net Tommy Dunne is remaining upbeat: “Going to the Brandywell is always a long trip for us, but it is a good venue to play in. We need to pick up points there if we can, because it is at the point in the season where every point really matters. Although we are without a number of players, we still have aspirations of getting something from the game.”
“In the last number of weeks, with the exception of the UCD game, I think we have performed reasonably well. We need to be solid and make sure that we do not give anything away that will give us an uphill battle to get a result from the game.”
The Candystripes were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by St Pat’s on Monday night but need three points tonight if they are to keep their slim hope of earning a European spot alive.
Derry’s David McDaid is available again after missing Monday night’s defeat by St Pat’s though suspension.
Cork have Brian Lenihan away on international duty Lenihan with the Ireland U19s, and Daryl Horgan is suspended. John Dunleavy (ankle), Colin Healy (thigh strain), Cathal Lordan (knee) and Eoghan Murphy (ankle) are all ruled out through injury, while defenders Dan Murray and Neal Horgan will also miss out. Mark McNulty, Danny Murphy and Vinny Sullivan all return from suspension, after missing the defeat to Shamrock Rovers last week.
Dundalk v UCD (7.45pm, Oriel Park)
This is a crucial game for the two bottom sides in the Premier Division with Dundalk going into it four points adrift of UCD, although they have a game less played.
Dundalk are still looking for their first league win since their 2-1 victory away to St Patrick’s Athletic on May 21, a run of 11 games without a win.
UCD have lost on their last three visits to Oriel Park and Dundalk’s 2-1 win over College in March was the Lilywhites only home league win so far this season.
UCD go to Dundalk tonight with three wins from their last four league games.
Dundalk’s caretaker boss Darius Kierans told Dundalkfc.com: “We’re not getting the bounce of the ball but you have to keep going and you have to keep believing that it will bounce for you, that you will get the luck and you will get it at the right times.
“I have full belief in the players. There is no doubt that naivety probably cost us the game last Friday but it’s also naivety that can help you bounce back from something like that.
“We have a lot of young players and I don’t think they’ll have any problem bouncing back. The boys are looking forward to Friday’s game and they know the importance of it.
“To lose in the manner that we did in Drogheda was gut-wrenching for the boys. They were all devastated after the game.
There are still 24 points to play for and we’re capable of beating anyone. I would have taken a very bad performance last Friday and a 1-0 win,” Kierans added.
“UCD got one win and then they got three. There’s no reason why we can’t do the same. But the one has to come sooner rather than later.”
UCD’s Martin Russell: “We are playing against a Dundalk team who were very unlucky not to get something at Dundalk last week and new manager Darius Kierans has them playing well and for each other so we know it will be a tough game.”
Dundalk’s top scorer Gary Shanahan is suspended but 33-year-old Barry Conlon has returned to Oriel Park where he played as youth before embarking on a career that saw him play for 15 clubs in England. Absent through injury are Robbie Gaul (knee), Garreth Brady (ankle) and Peter Thomas (thigh). Paul Walsh (groin) is doubtful while Nathan Murphy is poised to make his 50th league appearance if he shrugs off a hamstring strain.
UCD are still missing the injured goalkeeper John Kelly (thigh), while top scorer Graham Rusk (shin), midfielders Chris Mulhall (groin) and striker Cillian Morrison (ankle) have all increased their rehab and were back jogging and kicking a ball in training with physio Dave Clancy during the week, all three are quite close to a return to full training.
Tom O’Halloran (groin) remains a long term absentee, Sean Russell (groin) is still a couple of weeks away from a return while centre back David O’Connor (hamstring) is a doubt for Friday’s game.
Tomas Boyle didn’t train this week due to flu but should be okay.
Due to the growing injury list, manager Martin Russell has promoted five of the U19s to the first team squad for the remainder of the season. Defenders Liam Traynor and Sean Coyne, and midfielders Robbie Slater, Ayman Ben Mohamad and Colm Crowe.
Shamrock Rovers v Shelbourne (8pm, Tallaght Stadium)
Shamrock Rovers have won all three games between the sides so far this season.
Shelbourne manager Alan Mathews is looking for a marked improved from last week’s 2-0 defeat by Derry City which he described as “completely unacceptable”.
Shels are winless in this last six league games and have to go back to July 13 for their last victory, a 3-2 win away to Bray Wanderers.
The sides are also due to meet next week in the quarter-finals of the FAI Ford Cup at Tolka Park.
Shamrock Rovers won the Leinster Senior Cup last Monday night.
Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Kenny said: “This is a big weekend for us as we have two Dublin derbies between now and Monday, against Shels and Bohs. Every derby game is hard fought, and you don’t get a win in them without earning that right.
“The players are in good form in all competitions; we’ve won seven and drew one from our last eight games. We know we will have to beat our best to get a win against Shelbourne, but we are playing with confidence and the players’ work ethic has been very good.”
Shelbourne manager Alan Mathews added: “A big game for the club, we’ll be ready and we’ll ensure that we get a better performance than last week”
Graham Gartland (back) and Stephen O’Donnell (hamstring) are both out of the Hoops squad through injury. Billy Dennehy is suspended for the game, while Gary Twigg returns after missing last week’s match against Cork City.
Shelbourne have three players suspended for Friday’s game – all for reaching four yellow cards – Gareth Matthews, Kevin Dawson and Brian Shortall. The trio of Philly Gorman, Chris Bennion and Ian Ryan, who missed the Derry game through injury, are all expected to be fit, so apart from those suspended, Mathews will have a full squad to select from.