Cork City v Shamrock Rovers
TOMMY DUNNE’S CORK City are still in search of their first points of the season and welcome Premier Division champions Shamrock Rovers to Turner’s Cross tonight.
Opposite number Stephen Kenny has seen his side come back from a goal-down on two occasions to win out so the Hoops should be full of confidence meaning the Leesiders will need an improved performance if they are to come away with anything.
“If we play to our potential, then we will give ourselves an opportunity of getting a result,” said Dunne. “We need to show a bit more urgency and compete for possession, which will allow us to get on the ball and play.”
Shane Duggan is out through suspension while Colin Healy will miss out again with a knee injury. Stephen Mulcahy, Kevin Murray and Neal Horgan all remain sidelined with knee injuries.
Rovers pair Ciaran Kilduff (broken metatarsal) and Conor Winn (back) remain absent through injury. Conor McCormack (ankle ligament injury) has resumed training, but is not expected to feature. Gary McCabe is a doubt with a thigh problem.
Drogheda United v Dundalk
The first Louth derby of the season is expected to be a spicy affair as Dundalk travel the short distance to Hunky Dorys Park in search of their first win. The last two meetings between the clubs at the ground ended in draws (2-2 and 1-1 both last August) but Drogheda haven’t beaten their rivals at home in the league since 1998.
“None of the lads need motivation for this game, we haven’t beaten Dundalk in Drogheda in the league in some time and we all know what it means to the fans, so we do owe them one. The Louth derby is always a great occasion and I expect a good atmosphere on Friday night,” said Drogs boss Mick Cooke.
Drogheda United have a fully fit squad with Paul Crowley available for selection again after receiving 28 stitches in his leg. Eric Foley returns after suspension.
Dundalk are hopeful that captain Chris Shields will pass a fitness test after jarring his knee in training in the lead-up to their opening fixture. Defender Derek Foran (back) will also be assessed before the game but winger Gary Shanahan is unavailable.
St Patrick’s Athletic v Monaghan United
The Saints have looked strong in their two victories this term and have yet to concede a goal. Monaghan have been competitive and earned a point in their game with Drogheda before losing to Shamrock Rovers last weekend but Roddy Collins knows his side will be up against it at Richmond Park this evening.
“St Pats will be one of the teams to watch this season but again like last week we will not be going to make up the numbers,” Collins said. “We had an excellent following last week and I hope that when they are leaving Richmond Park they will be at least equally proud of their side as they were leaving Tallaght.”
Pat’s have just Aidan Price on the injury list, while Christy Fagan serves the final game of a three match ban. Jake Kelly returns following a one match suspension.
Injuries look set to cost Monaghan the services of Willo McDonagh, Aidan Collins, Gareth O’ Connor and Shaun Maher but Bobby Ryan should make his debut and Robert Bayly should also be available. Darragh Reynor is suspended.
Sligo Rovers v Bohemians
Bohs will attempt to avoid a third consecutive defeat against a Sligo team who have four points from a possible six at the Showgrounds later. New Bit O’Red boss Ian Baraclough is still unbeaten during his short reign and has been doing his homework on the Gypsies.
“I watched Bohemians last week and I thought they were the better team for a lot of the game against Shelbourne,” he said. “They have strong young players that Aaron Callaghan shows a lot of faith in and he has them playing a nice brand of football so I think we will see another open game.”
Sligo Rovers are without Mark Quigley, who was handed a five match ban, and Alan Keane due to suspension. Pascal Millien is awaiting work permit clearance while Iarfhlaith Davoren and Raffaele Cretaro made their returns from injury in the win over UCD.
Bohs have doubts over Derek Pender (flu) and Peter McMahon (also flu) while Stephen Traynor (nose injury) and Keith Ward (calf) remain out. Dave Scully (Achilles) has resumed light training and should be available to play in a couple of weeks. Adam Martin is suspended.
UCD v Bray Wanderers
The Students play Wicklow club Bray and will have been relatively satisfied with their start to the season after one win and a defeat. Wanderers, meanwhile, are rock bottom and could see the Belfield Bowl as a ground that they should be picking up at least a point and Pat Devlin isn’t hiding how important he feels this fixture is.
“This is an early season six pointer,” he said. “It’s a game we need to get something out of – we certainly don’t want to lose. Games between ourselves and UCD are usually very tight and difficult to predict and I expect this will be no different.”
UCD welcomed back Graham Rusk from a groin injury last week against Sligo Rovers and he came through the game unscathed. Paul Corry (foot), Gary Burke (back), Samir Belhout (foot), Tomas Boyle (back), Sean Russell and Mark Langtry(foot) remain sidelined.
Bray have doubts over Sean Houston (hamstring) and Colm Tresson (Achilles) while Pierce Sweeney is suspended and Shane O’Connor is long term injury victim with a groin injury.
Shels boss Alan Mathews last week. Credit: NPHO/Ryan Byrne
Shelbourne v Derry City
The Candystripes sit on top of the Premier Division table at this early stage and will be determined to remain there by capping a visit to Dublin with a win. Shels won’t be a push-over however, as the newly-promoted side showed against Sligo and Bohemians.
Shelbourne managers Alan Mathews said: “Our objective last year was to get promoted to the Premier Division. You want to be playing Rovers, Bohs, Sligo and Derry. You want to be playing the top sides in the country. It’s a great challenge for us to see how we can adapt to this league. There’s no lead-in period, you’re straight into it.”
Shels could welcome back Kevin Dawson, David Cassidy and Stephen Paisley from injury but striker Paul Byrne is still some weeks from a return.