Wednesday 22 November 2017

League of Ireland Previews

Garry Doyle

(Athlone Town Stadium, 7.45)


League form: Athlone Town LLDLL, UCD LDDDD. Odds: Athlone 2/1, UCD 13/10, Draw 11/5. Ref: R Mathews (Mullingar)

Team news: The problems which plagued the early part of Athlone's season have eased and they now have only one absentee, Aidan Collins shoulder). UCD, meanwhile, are still without Dean Clarke (back), Tomas Boyle (hamstring) and Aymen Ben Mohamed (knee).

Talking point: Athlone, 10 points in arrears of their relegation rivals, desperately need to win this game to inject some hope into their campaign. Since Keith Long's appointment, they have become more organised and the fact their need is greater than UCD's suggests they could finally sneak a victory.

Verdict: Home win


(Carlisle Grounds, 7.45)

League form: Bray Wds LWDWL, Cork City DLLWW. Odds: Bray Wds 10/3, Cork City 5/6, Draw 5/2. Ref: J McKell (Tipperary)

Team news: Cork remain without Darren Murphy (hamstring), Michael Rafter (ankle), Danny Morrissey (ankle) and Brian Lenihan (international duty). However, Dan Murray and Colin Healy (both hamstring) may yet feature. Bray welcome back Adam Mitchell and Niall Cooney, although Jake Kelly and Shane O'Connor remain out.

Talking point: Cork's manager John Caulfield insists they remain title contenders, saying: "We had two difficult weeks and people doubted whether we had the character to stay up there, but we have since bounced back."

Verdict: Draw


(The Brandywell, 7.45)

League form: Derry City DDDLL, Drogheda United LLLWL Odds: Derry 8/11, Drogheda 7/2, Draw 5/2. Ref: D Tomney (Dublin)

Team news: Derry will be without Cliff Byrne (suspension), David Elebert (calf), Mark Stewart (calf), Cormac Burke (ankle) and Mark Timlin (ankle). Drogheda's problems are as bad. Micheal Schlingermann, Stephen Maher and Cathal Brady are all injured and Eric Foley and Gavin Brennan are suspended.

Talking point: Drogheda have lost six of their last seven and were humiliated 7-0 by Dundalk, on Tuesday. Manager, Robbie Horgan, said: "There were a few home truths told in the dressing-room after the game. I'm confident the players will respond to the criticism."

Verdict: Home win


(Oriel Park, 7.45)

League form: Dundalk WLWWW, Sligo Rovers WWDWW Odds: Dundalk 11/8, Sligo 15/8, Draw 11/5. Ref: P McLaughlin (Monaghan)

Team news: Sligo are missing Alan Keane (thigh and knee), Joseph Ndo (calf), Gavin Peers (knee), Raffaele Cretaro (calf) and Kieran Djilali (knee), whereas Dundalk have just one definite absentee in Stephen O'Donnell (knee). John Mountney (groin) is a doubt.

Talking point: Sligo's revival has brought them back into the title race, but their awful start to the campaign – four defeats from five – has left them with no margin for error. If they lose here their title ambitions could end and given Dundalk's capacity to get results at Oriel Park, that is most likely.

Verdict: Home win


(Thomond Park, 7.45)

League form: Limerick LDLLL, St Patrick's Ath WWDWD Odds: Limerick 13/2, St Pat's 4/9, Draw 3/1. Ref: P Tuite (Dublin)

Team news: Limerick will assess the fitness of experienced left-back Robbie Williams (hamstring) after he was forced off against Cork. Fellow defender Shane Costelloe (back) continues his recovery, but, otherwise, they are at full strength. St Pat's are missing Derek Foran. Mark Quigley is a doubt.

Talking point: Limerick are failing to cut the muster this season and their manager, Stuart Taylor, admitted: "We need to stop pressing the self-destruct button. I believe that with the squad of players at our disposal, we're good enough to be further up the table."

Verdict: Draw


(Tallaght Stadium, 8.0)

League form: Shamrock Rovers WWDWW, Bohemians LDDDL Odds: Shamrock Rvs 2/5, Bohs 13/2, Draw 16/5. Ref: P Sutton (Clare)

Team news: Rovers are missing Conor Kenna and Sean Heaney (both hamstring), while Robert Bayly is suspended. Three of Bohs' fringe players, Lee Murphy, Darragh Reynor and Philly McCabe, have left the club, student Jack Memery is preparing for exams and Derek Pender (hamstring) is a doubt. However, Roberto Lopes returns from suspension and Anto Murphy and Aidan Price are fit again.

Talking point: Rovers have slipped in under the radar and are just two points behind Dundalk. Bohs haven't won in their last seven and will be hoping to thwart their arch rivals.

Verdict: Home win

Irish Independent

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