Sunday 22 July 2018

Drogs boss not worried about fixture pile-up

Soccer: SSE Airtricity League

Marcus Cavaroli

Before a ball has even been kicked in their new season, Drogheda United are facing into a major fixture pile-up nearly as high as last week's snowdrifts.

The EA Sports Cup tie at St Mochta's on Monday evening and last Friday's league game away to Shelbourne were both called off because of the wintry weather and that followed the last-minute postponement of the opening-night fixture with Finn Harps owing to inadequate floodlighting.

So it's fingers crossed that, at the fourth attempt, the Boynesiders can kick off their campaign next Sunday with the rescheduled home game against Athlone Town (3pm).

Yesterday (Monday) manager Tim Clancy played down the effect of the punishing schedule now facing his squad, with six games to be played in a 20-day period before the end of March and a date for the rearranged Shelbourne match yet to be confirmed.

'We've not met since last mid-week, but every club in the country is the same position and I'm not really too concerned about the schedule,' he responded.

'For the players and staff it's out of our hands and it's up to us to prepare as best we can for the Athlone game. With it being moved to Sunday, at least it gives us two extra days to prepare.

'We were raring to go for Finn Harps and then the Shelbourne and St Mochta's games were called off as well, but that's just something we'll have to adjust to and we need to go into Sunday in a positive frame of mind.'

Clancy agreed that the heavy programme of games this month would mean game time for most members of his squad.

'We didn't sign players for the sake of it - we had to make sure we got the right men in - and everyone got a good number of games in pre-season. There were a lot of different combinations tried out and we finished the games quite strongly after making a lot of changes [substitutions], and with six games coming up most players will be used.'

Athlone Town's opening-night fixture the week before last did go ahead and they suffered a 4-1 defeat away to title favourites Galway United, with Danny Furlong helping himself to a hat-trick.

One of the few recognisable names in their squad is former Drogheda United Under-19s midfielder Brian Cabraley and Clancy admitted he'd didn't know too much about them at this stage.

'I haven't had a chance to see them this season, but we have video footage and it's a matter of sitting down and having a look at it and seeing where their strengths and weaknesses lie.'

Drogheda will be warm favourites to pick up the three points, but could be a little rusty compared to the Midlanders who at least have one competitive game under their belts, and Clancy guarded against any complacency.

'Being favourites means nothing,' he responded. 'Everyone is saying it's a game we're looking to win, but that's disrespectful to Aaron Callaghan and his players. He will be coming up with a group of players intending to win.

'We will hope our level of intensity is where we would want it to be.'

The match has been scheduled for daylight hours because of the ongoing installation of new floodlights, with the work on the troublesome clubhouse side of the ground planned to be completed in the next couple of days.

March fixture schedule

Sun 11th - Athlone Town, League (h) 3pm

Fri 16th - Wexford, League (a) 8pm

Mon 19th - St Mochta's, EA Sports Cup (a), 7.45pm

Fri 23rd - Galway United, League (h) 7.45pm

Mon 26th - Finn Harps, League (h) 7.45pm

Fri 30th - Cabinteely, League (a) 7.45pm

• A new date for Shelbourne v Drogheda Utd, will be announced at a later date.

Drogheda Independent