Hollywood bid ding to star on Drogs return
Midfielder Jamie Hollywood was set to complete a move back to Drogheda United at training on Monday night and go straight into the squad for Friday's league game away to Limerick (7.45pm).
The 22-year-old, who made a few appearances for the Drogs under Pete Mahon in the Premier Division two years ago, decided to leave Longford Town recently and was playing for Ireland at the World University Games in Naples last week.
Manager Trim Clancy made the move for Hollywood after yet more injury setbacks over the past week, with Chris Lyons (hamstring) and James Brown (broken hand) joining Mark Hughes (hamstring) and Adam Wixted on the sidelines. Eoin McPhillips, on his full debut, also had to come off in the first half in Longford on Saturday last after complaining of breathing difficulties.
Wixted is hoping to make his long-awaited return from a dislocated shoulder in the next two to three weeks, Brown will be out at least that long and Hughes remains a doubt for the trip to Markets Field, with Lyons having the best hope of being available.
Meanwhile, back-up defender Sean Trimble has had his registration cancelled after he expressed a wish to play in the Leinster Senior League due to a lack of first-team opportunities.
Clancy is hoping that his side can bounce back immediately from last weekend's 2-1 defeat in Longford when they face Limerick in what is a crucial fixture. A Drogheda win would open a nine-point gap on the Shannonsiders with just six further league games remaining, and having Lyons available for selection would surely boost their chances.
'Sometimes I don't think he gets the recognition he deserves,' insisted Clancy, 'but I think he's the most important player we have at the club and you could see that we missed him on Saturday night.'
The manager acknowledged that it's difficult to fathom how difficult a test Limerick will provide after he saw them lose 1-0 to 10-man Bray Wanderers last week - seven days after beating Longford Town.
'It was extremely comfortable for Bray even with 10 men,' the Trim native commented about the game at the Carlisle Grounds, 'and there didn't seem to be any pressure on them to concede.
'I would say Tommy Barrett [Limerick manager] is pulling his hair out and I can't see how that same team beat Longford the week before even though they're a better side at home.
'We're hoping it's the team that played in Bray who come out against us, and if we can beat them it would be very difficult for them to catch us from there.
'It's a tough game. We didn't win down there before and we won the home game 3-2, but the way we've reacted to defeats before has been really positive and hopefully we can do that again.'
Looking back in more detail at the defeat by Longford, Clancy had no complaints about the result.
'We have had injuries in the last few months and it might have caught up with us in the game on Saturday.
'Longford are a very good team, the best we've played this season, and being down numbers is not going to be an advantage to us, but I don't think we deserved anything out of the game.
'They were the better side and we didn't perform at all, and if we'd got away with the draw it would have been flattering to us.
'I think that was possibly the first time we've scored first and not gone on to win, and that's disappointing,'
That said, Clancy certainly doesn't feel that Drogheda's push for the play-offs has been derailed by that narrow loss at City Calling Stadium.
'We've lost nine points to Longford and are still only a point behind them, he pointed out. 'We're only six points off the top and still have to play Shelbourne at home, so there's a lot of football to be played.'
Adam Wixted and club chairman Conor Hoey represented the Drogs at last week's Extra.ie FAI Cup first round draw, where Clancy's men were handed a home tie against Carrigaline-based non-league outfit Avondale United, the FAI Intermediate Cup holders - probably on Friday August 9th.