Sunday 17 December 2017

League of Ireland previews

Ruadhri O'Connor

Bohemians v Derry City

(Dalymount Park, 7.45)

League form: Bohs LWDLW, Derry City WLLLW

Match odds: Bohs 5/2, Derry 11/10, Draw 15/4

Referee: A Kelly (Cork)

Team news: Neil Yadolahi and Daniel Byrne are on standby for Bohs as Anto Murphy (hamstring) faces a late fitness test. Stewart Greacen, Kevin Deery and Thomas Crawley are out for Derry, while Paddy Kavanagh (ankle) and Eoghan Osborne (groin) are doubts.

Talking point: Bohs were excellent in their win over Shelbourne but Owen Heary will know that safety is still far from assured. A win over Derry would be a big step towards survival, but it is no guarantee.

Verdict: Draw

Cork City v UCD

(Turner's Cross, 7.45)

League form: Cork WWWLW, UCD LWLDL

Match odds: Cork 8/11, UCD 15/4, Draw 5/2

Referee: K O'Regan (Kerry)

Team news: Cork's Colin Healy and John Dunleavy return from suspension, but Darren Dennehy and Kevin Murray remain out. UCD are without Tomas Boyle and Aymen Ben Mohamed.

Talking point: UCD have been lingering dangerously above the drop zone for long enough that Bohs are now threatening to drag them into the bottom three. They need to pick up the odd point here and there to keep relegation at arm's length.

Verdict: Home win

Dundalk v Limerick

(Oriel Park, 7.45)

League form: Dundalk WWWWL, Limerick LLLDW

Match odds: Dundalk 8/15, Limerick 11/2, Draw 13/5

Referee: D Tomney (Dublin)

Team news: Stephen O'Donnell is suspended for Dundalk, who are also without Patrick Hoban (groin), but Chris Shields and Darren Meenan return from suspension. Shane Tracy, Stephen McGann (foot) and Brian O'Callaghan (groin) are out for Limerick, but full-back Shane Costelloe and winger Danny Galbraith are back in contention.

Talking point: Stephen Kenny's juggernaut hit a major road bump last Friday night and the Lilywhites will be eager to reignite their title charge. The first of five games to decide the title will set the agenda.

Verdict: Home win

S'rock Rvs v Drogheda Utd

(Tallaght Stadium, 8.0)

League form: Shamrock Rovers LLWWL, Drogheda WWDLL

Match odds: Shamrock Rovers 7/10, Drogheda 4/1, Draw 12/5

Referee: P Tuite (Dublin)

Team news: Shamrock Rovers defenders Ken Oman and Conor Powell are suspended, while Ronan Finn, Pat Sullivan, Richie Ryan and Karl Sheppard are doubts. Drogheda's Derek Prendergast is banned, but Gavin Brennan has recovered from his shoulder injury.

Talking point: Six points behind Derry with the Candystripes having a game in hand against bottom side Shelbourne, Rovers' best route to Europe appears to be the FAI Cup. Even a win for the Hoops will hardly be enough to get back towards the Europa League spot.

Verdict: Home win

Sligo Rovers v Shelbourne

(The Showgrounds, 7.45)

League form: Sligo LWDWW, Shels DLLLL

Match odds: Sligo Rovers 1/5, Shels 12/1, Draw 5/1

Referee: A Buttimer (Cork)

Team news: Ross Gaynor is Sligo's only absentee as Evan McMillan and Raffaele Cretaro return. Glenn Cronin's knee injury means he joins Paul Crowley, Brian Shortall, Mark Leech and Jack Memery on the long-term injury list.

Talking point: What impact will John McDonnell's post-match rant have on his Shelbourne side? Calling your players out on national television could go either way, and with the champions needing to win to sustain their charge, this could get ugly for the Reds.

Verdict: Home win

Irish Independent

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