Wednesday 13 December 2017

League of Ireland previews

Shelbourne’s Pat Flynn ends up on the ground after a challenge from Dundalk captain Stephen O’Donnell - the latter is suspended for Dundalk's clash tonight
Shelbourne’s Pat Flynn ends up on the ground after a challenge from Dundalk captain Stephen O’Donnell - the latter is suspended for Dundalk's clash tonight

Garry Doyle

A preview of the League of Ireland games down for decision, as the league season nears its conclusion.

Dundalk v Derry City

(Oriel Park, 7.45)

League form: Dundalk WWWLL, Derry LLLWL

Match odds: Dundalk 8/11, Derry 4/1, Draw 12/5

Referee: G Kelly (Cork)

Team news: Derry's Ryan McBride is suspended and the Lilywhites are missing Stephen O'Donnell for the same reason. Keith Ward's knee injury keeps him out of the game.

Talking point: While Derry's season is essentially over, Dundalk still have much to play for. Friday's defeat to Limerick, coming on the back of their loss at title rivals St Pat's a week previously has left the Louth side with no margin for error. They need three points, not just tonight but also in their other three league games, to have any chance of clinching the league crown.

Verdict: Home win

Sligo Rovers v Cork City

(The Showgrounds, 7.45)

League form: Sligo Rovers DWWWW, Cork City LWLWW Match odds: Sligo Rovers 8/15, Cork 11/2, Draw 13/5

Referee: P Sutton (Clare)

Team news: Cork have doubts over Kevin Murray and Darren Dennehy. Sligo have to plan without Gavin Peers, who is suspended. Ross Gaynor's knee injury rules him out. But Evan McMillan returned to the side after a lengthy absence, coming on as a sub on Friday against Shels.

Talking point: Sligo are contenders again, returning to second spot following Friday's win over Shels. They've gone 588 minutes without conceding a home goal. Win tonight and the gap to St Pat's is down to two points. Lose and the FAI Cup is their only chance of silverware.

Verdict: Home win

Shels v Drogheda United

(Tolka Park, 8.0)

League form: Shelbourne WLLLL, Drogheda DWLLL

Match odds: Shels 2/1 Drogheda 6/5, Draw 2/1

Referee: P McLaughlin (Monaghan)

Team news: Shelbourne's Glenn Cronin joins Paul Crowley, Brian Shortall, Mark Leech and Jack Memery on the injured list. Adam Hanlon faces a late fitness test and Robert Bayly returns from suspension. Drogheda's Cathal Brady and Ryan Brennan are both injury doubts and Alan Byrne, David Cassidy, Shane Grimes and Derek Prendergast are suspended.

Talking point: Shels have sunk to new depths, losing their last four. They desperately need a win here if they are to avoid the drop. Drogheda though, are also on the slide, having lost their last three.

Verdict: Away win

Shamrock Rovers v Bray Wanderers

(Tallaght Stadium, 8.0)

League form: Shamrock Rovers WWWLW, Bray Wanderers LLDLL Match odds: Shamrock Rovers 2/7, Bray 10/1, Draw 4/1

Referee: D Tomney (Dublin )

Team news: Barry Murphy (calf) and Conor Powell (Achilles) are both doubts for Rovers. Bray can report a clean bill of health as they welcome back Eoin Hyland to the squad after his recovery from a hamstring injury. However, Dave Webster is suspended.

Talking point: The points mean far more to Bray than Rovers as the Wicklow side battle for survival. One point clear of relegation rivals Shels, an unexpected result here could boost their season. It's unlikely though. When these sides last met in Tallaght, Rovers won 7-0.They're likely to have a stress-free night.

Verdict: Home win

Limerick v Bohemians

(Thomond Park, 7.45)

League form: Limerick LLDWW, Bohemians WDLWW

Match odds: Limerick evens, Bohemians 3/1, Draw 2/1

Referee: S Grant (Wexford)

Team news: Limerick are without Shane Tracy (knee), Stephen McGann (foot) and Pat Purcell (ankle). Brian O'Callaghan (groin) returns after a two months out while Dave O'Leary (knee) is available. Bohs are missing Anto Murphy (hamstring) and Stephen Traynor (quad).

Talking point: Limerick have finally come of age this season – beating Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers in the last week after a draw against St Pat's. A top-half finish is their aim. For Bohs, it's about survival. A six-point return from their last two games means they're on course to achieve that.

Verdict: Draw

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