Sport Soccer

Friday 23 February 2018

League of Ireland previews

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny

Garry Doyle

A round of the games taking place in the League of Ireland tonight.

St Pat's v Shamrock Rovers

(Richmond Park, 7.45)

Form guide: St Pat's DWDWW, Shamrock Rvrs WWWWL

Odds: Pat's 11/10, Rovers 12/5, Draw 11/5

Referee: A Kelly (Cork)

Team news: St Pat's are missing Stephen Maher, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season after breaking his leg in Derry last week.

Rovers are without suspended duo Mark Quigley and Derek Foran. However, Karl Sheppard and Eamon Zayed return – the latter after playing two internationals for Libya this week.

Talking point: Which Shamrock Rovers side will turn up? The side who so impressively beat Pat's 3-0 early in the season or the team who were comprehensively beaten 4-0 by their Inchicore rivals last month? "Anything that could have gone wrong that day, did go wrong," said Hoops manager Trevor Croly. "This game is important but it doesn't define our season."

Finn Harps Drogheda United

(Finn Park, 8.0)

Form guide: Finn Harps LLWDL, Drogheda Utd LDWWW

Odds: Harps 6/1, Drogheda 4/9, Draw 3/1

Referee: T Connolly (Dublin)

Team news: Drogheda striker Gary O'Neill was yesterday diagnosed with testicular cancer, having experienced minor symptoms of the disease in recent weeks. He will undergo surgery early next week and will not play again this season. Cathal Brady (dead leg) is a further doubt.

Harps are without Sean McCarron (suspended) and have doubts over Damien McNulty (foot), Tommy McMonagle (foot), Johnny Bonner (knee) and Kevin McHugh (flu).

Talking point: Aside from having to deal with the managerial saga unfolding in the background, there now is the infinitely more important news surrounding the health of O'Neill. How Drogheda's players cope with the trauma of the news will be a big factor here.

Shelbourne v Dundalk

(Tolka Park 8.0)

Form guide: Shelbourne LWLLL, Dundalk WWWWW

Odds: Shelbourne 9/2, Dundalk 8/13, Draw 13/5

Referee: P Sutton (Clare)

Team news: Dundalk are missing Keith Ward (cruciate knee injury), Stephen O'Donnell and Dane Massey (suspension). Kurtis Byrne returns from suspension. Brian Gartland also comes back into the team after a spell recovering from flu.

Shels are missing six players – Paul Crowley, Brian Shortall, Mark Leech and Jack Memery are suspended, while Lee Murphy and Jamie McGlynn are cup-tied.

Talking point: Shels boss John McDonnell is an expert in delivering formations which can negate the strengths of more talented teams. Stephen Kenny, too, likes to alter his system depending on the opposition and the battle of minds between the sideline generals is likely to determine this outcome.

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