Wednesday 13 December 2017

League of Ireland previews

Trevor Croly
Trevor Croly
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Derry City v Shamrock Rvs, Drogheda United v UCD, Bohemians v Dundalk, Bray Wanderers v Limerick, St Pat's v Sligo Rovers


Derry City v Shamrock Rvs

(Brandywell Stadium, 5.0)

League form: Derry City LWWLL, Shamrock Rovers WWLWW

Match odds: Derry 11/5, Shamrock Rovers 6/5, Draw 13/5

Referee: S Grant (Wexford)

Team news: Stewart Greacen (knee), Kevin Deery (knee) and Tomas Crawley (groin) miss out through injury for Derry, while Ryan McBride is suspended. Former Hoop Patrick Kavanagh (ankle) is a doubt. Rovers will have to do without the banned Conor McCormack, while Shane Fagan is away on U-21 international duty.

Talking point: If Sligo Rovers win the cup, then fourth place will book a European spot for one of these clubs, and Derry will know that even a draw will keep Rovers at arm's length, three points back. After a disappointing first season in charge, Trevor Croly could do with getting a win here and squeezing into the Europa League.

Verdict: Draw

Drogheda United v UCD

(Hunky Dorys Park, 7.0)

League form: Drogheda WLLLD, UCD LDLLL

Match odds: Drogheda 3/4, UCD 10/3, Draw 13/5

Referee: A Azzopardi (Malta)

Team news: Drogheda have doubts over David Cassidy and Derek Prendergast. Martin Russell must do without the injured Gareth Matthews, Hugh Douglas, Cillian Morrison, Barry McCabe and Thomas Boyle, while Robbie Creevy is suspended.

Talking point: After all the controversy around Anthony Buttimer's performance at Hunky Dory's Park, the FAI have appointed Maltese official Adrian Azzopardi and two fellow countrymen as referee and assistants for this league meeting. The two events are unrelated, of course, with the men from the Mediterranean island over as part of a long-planned exchange programme.

Verdict: Home win

Bohemians v Dundalk

(Dalymount Park, 7.45)

League form: Bohs DLWWL, Dundalk WWLLW

Match odds: Bohs 21/10, Dundalk 6/5, Draw 9/4

Referee: P Tuite (Dublin)

Team news: Defender Anto Murphy misses out with an ulcer for Bohs, who welcome Stephen Traynor back, but are also without Shane Murray with a knee problem. Long-term absentee Keith Ward remains out with a knee injury, while Chris Shields and Darren Meenan are banned after their red cards in last week's game.

Talking point: Bohs are inches away from safety and a point would almost get them there, but after last week's cup heartache Stephen Kenny will look for a response and is targeting the 70-point mark, which would make for a superb performance in his first season at the helm of the Lilywhites.

Verdict: Away win


Bray Wanderers v Limerick

(Carlisle Grounds, 3.0)

League form: Bray LDLLL, Limerick LDWWW

Match odds: Bray 23/10, Limerick 21/20, Draw 12/5

Referee: G Kelly (Cork)

Team news: Ian Cowser, Peter Thomas, Dwayne Wilson and Eoin Hyland have been added to Bray's squad for this vital clash. Shane Tracy (knee), Stephen McGann (foot) and Pat Purcell (ankle) are out for Limerick, while Stephen Bradley is suspended and Brian O'Callaghan returns for Stuart Taylor's side.

Talking point: Bray need something from somewhere if they are to stay up, and Shelbourne's defeat in Cork has opened the door for them to take advantage. Whether they can step through it remains to be seen and Limerick are in fine form as they arrive at the Carlisle Grounds off three successive wins.

Verdict: Away win

St Pat's v Sligo Rovers

(Richmond Park, 5.15)


League form: St Pat's DDWWW, Sligo WWWWD

Match odds: St Pat's 23/20, Sligo 12/5, Draw 11/5

Referee: A Kelly (Cork)

Team news: St Pat's welcome Shane McFaul back from injury, while Killian Brennan and Daryl Kavanagh return from suspension. Sligo have a full squad available for their trip to Inchicore, with Ross Gaynor back from a knee injury and David McMillan in contention again.

Talking point: The Saints can end their long wait for a trophy with a point against Sligo and, after they watched the Bit O'Red claim the title last season, they'll be keen to return the compliment when they host the reigning champions at Richmond Park. Liam Buckley's side have defied their doubters and proven themselves the league's best side.

Verdict: Home win

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