Drogheda United v Sligo Rovers, 7.05
The newly crowned champions head cross-country for the last time this season to meet third-placed Drogheda United in tonight’s early kick-off.
The Drogs will be hopeful of bouncing back from defeat to UCD on home turf and cement their position in the top three.
The Bit o’ Red though, will be able to play without pressure having secured the league title with a dramatic 3-2 win over St Patrick’s Athletic last week. Ian Baraclough will have to do without injured Iarfhlaith Davoren, Danny North and Alan Keane, while Danny Ventre is added to the list of absentees after seeing red against the Saints.
“The suspension is a blow to Danny because he would like to play in the final matches but there is the big consolation that he will lift the trophy next week.” Baraclough said on the club’s website. He then underlined his motivation for the game against an opponent they have already scored seven goals against this season.
“Every player is still itching for action so we travel to Drogheda with options.” He said, ”We’ve trained during the week, re-focused the minds and there are plenty of reasons why we’re determined to get a result on Friday night.
“I want to remain unbeaten in the matches because one defeat in a season would be a great record.”
Bray Wanderers v Bohemians, 19.45
Bohemians travel to the Carlisle gourds looking to record their first win against the Seagulls this season. Aaron Callaghan’s side have twice been frustrated by Bray; losing in May on their last trip to Wicklow despite dominating the game. In August, neither side was able to force a breakthrough at Dalymount.
Bohs are one of only two club’s to lose at the Carlisle Grounds this season and Callaghan is expecting another tricky task to face his squad tonight.
“They have caused teams problems.” He said. “We played really well the last time over there but we still lost the game to a couple of set pieces. We need to make sure that our concentration levels are high. There’s no reason why we can’t win the game if we can raise those levels.”
Bray boss Pat Devlin will be counting the cost of discipline as defenders Adam Mitchell and Dane Massey will miss out the game through suspension. Mitchell was red carded in the defeat to Shamrock Rovers, a game Devlin says Bray may have won had they taken their chances.
The Gypsies will be able to welcome back Kevin Feely from suspension while Derek Pender (ankle) and Evan McMillan (knee) will undergo fitness tests this afternoon but are expected to be fit and ready. However, both Adam Martin and Dave Scully look set to miss out with ankle injuries.
Cork City v Dundalk, 7.45
Turners Cross is another venue gearing up for its final show of the season. And the home side will be hoping to rally support from The Shed after they let a two-goal lead slip to lose against Shelbourne.
City are unbeaten against Dundalk this term, winning 3-2 the last time the Lilywhites came to Leeside. Darius Kierans will not be overly enthusiastic of a better result this time around; ‘decimated’ was the word used by Dundalk this week when listing off 11 players who will miss the trip south. Defender Derek Foran (groin), striker Gary Shanahan (ankle), Paul Walsh (groin), John Mountney (appendix) and fullback Eoghan Osborne (suspension) will be the most absences felt most.
“We’re missing a lot of players but some of our younger players came in last week and did well, and Friday night is an opportunity for them to do so again,” Kierans said.
“Everything is focused towards the play-off now for us but you go into every game looking for a positive result and hopefully we can build on last week’s draw against Bohemians.”
Jake Kelly celebrates with Ryan Coombes after scoring against UCD ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Derry City v St Patrick’s Athletic 7.45
The Brandywell will provide an interesting preview of next month’s FAI Cup final tonight as second-placed St Pat’s make the trip up the N2.
However, the Saints will have more than mere psychological advantage to aim for, a point would be enough to ensure Liam Buckley’s men of European football next season. But Buckley insisted his side would not be settling for anything less than a win by the Foyle.
“We haven’t gone out to play for a draw this season to date, and we won’t intend to start doing that on Friday.
“We had a tough game in Derry earlier in the season, and it’ll be no different this time round but hopefully we can get a result.”
Buckley will be without the suspended Sean O’Connor, while Stephen O’Flynn (Achilles) and Mark Rossiter (knee) are sidelined. However, the Saints will be boosted by the return of impressive youngsters Jake Kelly and Ryan Coombes.
Shamrock Rovers v UCD, 8.0
Those who pass through the turnstiles of Tallaght Stadium tonight will be witness to the end of an era. Gary Twigg will line out in front of the Hoops’ home support for the final time. Twigg scored the first ever goal on Rovers’ new ground and he will be hoping to round off his four-year stint at the club in style.
Bidding to turn his farewell firewroks into a damp squib will be a UCD side with three wins in their last five games. Students boss Martin Russell, is expecting the home side to be driven.
“We know to expect a difficult game from a talented group of Rovers players and they will be hurt from last week’s defeat against Derry so we are expecting a backlash.”
That backlash will have to issued without Ciaran Kilduff (throat infection), Ronan Finn (ankle), Killian Brennan (calf) and Colin Hawkins (thigh strain), while Craig Sives will undergo a fitness test this afternoon to determine whether he has managed to overcome a knee problem.
Rovers’ boss Brian Laws promised to freshen up his starting line-up in order to force a response from his players.
“It goes without saying that I will be looking for a response from the players after last week’s very poor performance against Derry City. We will be mixing things up a bit in the team in order to spark a bit of life back into the side.”