Sport Soccer

Thursday 23 November 2017

Crunch tie between St Pats and Dundalk tonight

League of Ireland previews

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny has been rewarded with a new contract
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny has been rewarded with a new contract

A look ahead to the League of Ireland matches, with St Patrick's Athletic v Dundalk a crucial tie.

Derry City v Bray Wanderers

(Brandywell, 7.45)

Form guide: Derry LWLLL, Bray LDLLL

Odds: Derry 4/6, Bray 4/1, Draw 13/5

Referee: P McLaughlin (Monaghan)

Team news: The home side are without the suspended Barry McNamee and Ryan McBride, while Stewart Greacen, Kevin Deery (both knee) and Tomas Crawley (groin) are out. To add to manager Declan Devine's problems, Sean Houston (ankle), Dean Jarvis (knee) and Patrick McEleney (foot) are doubts. Danny O'Connor is Bray's only doubt as Eoin Hyland returns.

Talking point: Two of the league's least in-form teams, Derry and Bray have very different reasons for wanting to turn their seasons around.

The Candystripes are looking over their shoulders as Shamrock Rovers close in on their European spot, while the bottom-of-the-table Seagulls need to make a good run soon.

Verdict: Home win

St Patrick's Athletic v Dundalk

(Richmond Park, 7.30, * live RTE2)

Form guide: St Pat's WWDWD, Dundalk WWWWW

Odds: St Pat's 11/10, Dundalk 5/2, Draw 9/4

Referee: P Tuite (Dublin)

Team news: St Pat's have major problems in midfield with Greg Bolger suspended, Stephen Maher on the long-term injury list and Killian Brennan and Shane McFaul in a race to be fit, Brennan closer to making it. Darren Meenan and Chris Shields are suspended for Dundalk, while Keith Ward is injured, but Stephen O'Donnell and Dane Massey return.

Talking point: The trophy won't be handed out in Inchicore this evening, but both these sides know that a win would be a significant step towards ending their long wait for silverware. With the Saints' injury problems mounting, this is a real opportunity for the league's surprise package to keep the momentum going.

Verdict: Away win

UCD v Sligo Rovers

(UCD Bowl, 7.45)

Form guide: UCD LWLWL, Sligo WLWDW

Odds: UCD 6/1, Sligo 4/9, Draw 3/1

Referee: R Rogers (Dublin)

Team news: UCD, who have made great progress under Martin Russell, are without Aymen Ben Mohammed and Tomas Boyle, who are both injured. Sligo must plan without the suspended Raffaele Cretaro, but Kieran Djilali is set to return after serving a one-game ban. Evan McMillan and Ross Gaynor (both knee) have returned to training this week but are unlikely to feature tonight.

Talking point: With the top two meeting elsewhere on the southside, this is an opportunity for defending champions Sligo to take advantage of any slip-ups at Richmond Park. The champions are five points off the pace with six series of games remaining and a win tonight would keep them very much in the hunt.

Verdict: Away win

Shelbourne v Bohemians

(Tolka Park, 8.0)

Form guide: Shels WDLLL, Bohs LLWDL

Odds: Shels 8/5, Bohs 8/5, Draw 11/5

Referee: T Connolly (Dublin)

Team news: Shels' Robert Cornwall is suspended, while John McDonnell must do without Paul Crowley, Brian Shortall, Mark Leech and Jack Memery. Robert Bayly (knee) also misses out, but Lee Murphy and Jamie McGlynn return to action, having been cup-tied for the Dundalk game. Bohs are confident of having a full deck to choose from. Neil Yadolahi could make his debut.

Talking point: The press release issued by Bohemians yesterday told its own story, with a series of quotes from assistant manager Owen Heary, followed by a line confirming Bobby Browne as the club's new boss. The former Shels defender would appear to remain in control ahead of this crucial battle in the fight to avoid the drop, with Browne filling the requirement for a UEFA Pro Licence holder to be manager.

Verdict: Draw

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