Sunday 23 November 2014

League of Ireland Previews

Garry Doyle

Published 25/04/2014 | 02:30

BRAY WDS V DUNDALK (The Carlisle Grounds, 7.45)

League form: Bray Wanderers DLWDL, Dundalk WWWDW.

Match odds: Bray Wanderers 13/2, Dundalk 4/9, Draw 3/1.

Referee: David McKeon (Dublin)

Team news: Bray welcome Dave Webster back from suspension, but are missing Shane O'Connor, Danny O'Connor, Shane Byrne and Jake Kelly. Dundalk have to plan without Stephen O'Donnell and may promote Kurtis Byrne, Brian Gartland and Chris Shields to the starting line-up.

Talking point: When your schedule is as busy as Dundalk's, squad rotation is key to continued success which is why Stephen Kenny was wrong to make so few changes on Monday against Athlone and why he is right to wield the axe here. Bray are hard to beat, especially at home, but Dundalk, unbeaten since the opening game of the season, should keep their run going.

Verdict: Away win

CORK CITY V BOHEMIANS

(Turner's Cross, 7.45)

League form: Cork City WWDWW, Bohemians DWLLL.

Match odds: Cork City 8/15, Bohemians 11/2, Draw 13/5.

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin)

Team news: Cork have to plan without the services of Darren Dennehy (suspended), Darren Murphy (hamstring), Michael Rafter (ankle) and Danny Morrissey (ankle). John Caulfield has both Colin Healy (ankle) and Brian Lenihan (hamstring) fit again. Bohs are missing Dinny Corcoran (knee), Jack Memery (knee) and Anto Murphy (hamstring).

Talking point: After losing their last three league games, Bohs boss Owen Heary is trying to remove the element of fear from his side's play. With this in mind, a trip to the most hostile venue in the league is the last thing they need.

Verdict: Home win

DERRY CITY V UCD

(The Brandywell, 7.45)

League form: Derry City WLWDD, UCD DLLLL.

Match odds: Derry City 1/2, UCD 6/1, Draw 11/4.

Referee: Robert Harvey (Dublin)

Team news: UCD are missing Ayman Ben Mohamed (knee), Ian Ryan (foot) and Dean Clarke (back), while Robbie Creevy (groin) is a further doubt. Tomas Boyle returns from suspension. Derry are still missing Barry Molloy and Barry McNamee but welcome back Ryan McBride and Danny Ventre.

Talking point: Roddy Collins' decision to leave out Rory Patterson – last season's top scorer in the League of Ireland – is bizarre given how Derry are struggling for goals this term. Collins tried to buy himself time at the start of the year, saying he needed 10 games to sort his team out. He is at that point now and results need to improve before the natives get restless.

Verdict: Home win

DROGHEDA U V SHAMROCK RVS

(United Park, 7.45)

League form: Drogheda United WDLLL, Shamrock Rovers LWLDW.

Match odds: Drogheda United 9/2, Shamrock Rovers 8/13, Draw 5/2.

Referee: Padraigh Sutton (Clare)

Team news: Eric Foley joins Micheal Schlingermann and Austin McCann on Drogheda's absentee list. Rovers are missing Dean Kelly (calf), Sean O'Connor (hamstring) and David O'Connor (ankle).

Talking point: After punching above their weight at the start of the season, the wheels have come off Drogheda's wagon, with three straight defeats ending their slim hopes of sustaining a title challenge. Rovers remain under-rated and are likely to extend Drogheda's losing streak.

Verdict: Away win

LIMERICK V SLIGO ROVERS

(Thomond Park, 7.45)

League form: Limerick LDWWD, Sligo Rovers DDWWW.

Match odds: Limerick 6/1, Sligo Rovers 8/15, Draw 5/2.

Referee: Sean Grant (Wexford)

Team news: Seamus Conneely is back in the Sligo squad after his early season problems with injury, but Raffaele Cretaro (calf) and Gavin Peers (knee) are out. Limerick are missing James McGrath (thigh) and have doubts about hamstring victim Craig Curran's fitness.

Talking point: The odds on a Limerick victory are generous given how they are unbeaten in four – and yet Sligo's return to form suggests they could yet launch a title challenge, which seemed unlikely at the start of this month after they suffered a fourth defeat on the spin.

Verdict: Away win

ST PAT'S ATH V ATHLONE TOWN

(Richmond Park, 7.45)

League form: St Patrick's Athletic LWWWW, Athlone Town LLLLL.

Match odds: St Patrick's Athletic 1/8, Athlone Town 17/1, Draw 13/2.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan)

Team news: Athlone are stretched, with Sean Byrne suspended, Aidan Collins missing with a shoulder injury and Neil Harney out with a dead leg. However, Alan Byrne, Paul Skinner, Derek Prendergast and Alan Byrne are available again. Kenny Browne returns from suspension for St Pat's but Ken Oman (back) is injured.

Talking point: Defeat tonight would be Athlone's 10th of the season and would represent the worst start to a top-flight campaign in League of Ireland history. Pat's have bounced back from a horrific 4-1 defeat to Dundalk by winning four on the spin.

Verdict: Home win

GARRY DOYLE

Irish Independent

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