Monday 18 December 2017

League of Ireland previews

Galway Utd v Shamrock Rvs

(Terryland Park 7.35, RTE2)

League form: Galway United WLDLL, Shamrock Rovers DWLDW

Match odds: Galway United 6/1, Shamrock Rovers 4/9, Draw 3/1

Referee: P Tuite (Dublin)

Team news: Rovers trio Gary Twigg, Stephen O'Donnell and Craig Sives are out with hamstring injuries, while Chris Turner (calf) and Ronan Finn (knee) face fitness tests. The return of Alan Murphy and Shaun Maher will boost the hosts who are still without Gary Curran (metatarsal) and Joseph Yoffe (ankle).

Talking point: Sean Connor's men might have a hex over Bohemians, but their record against the champions is nothing to write home about. Galway played the Hoops five times last season and lost all of them on an aggregate of 13-0. A reversal of fortunes doesn't look likely.

Verdict: Away win.

Bohemians v Derry City

(Dalymount Park, 7.45)

League form: Bohemians LDWDW, Derry City DWWWD

Match odds: Bohemians 11/8, Derry City 15/8, Draw 11/5

Referee: P Sutton (Clare)

Team news: Christy Fagan (hamstring) and Glenn Cronin (knee) remain out for the Gypsies, while Mark Rossiter is a doubt with an ankle injury. James McClean (ankle) and Patrick McEleney (dead leg) are doubts for Derry, who continue without Ruairi Harkin (knee) and Barry Molloy (ankle).

Talking point: It's been an interesting few weeks at Dalymount Park. Pat Fenlon remains unhappy -- the Gypsies should have beaten Shamrock Rovers but drew, before they should have lost in Sligo where they won. The midweek defeat to Shelbourne shows they lack depth, but Derry will not relish this trip.

Verdict: Draw.

Dundalk v Bray Wanderers

(Oriel Park, 7.45)

League form: Dundalk LWLDW, Bray Wanderers WLWWW

Match odds: Dundalk 5/6, Bray Wanderers 16/5, Draw 23/10

Referee: R Winter (Wicklow)

Team news: Dundalk manager Ian Foster is again without Greg Bolger (thigh), Eoghan Osbourne (broken leg) and Stephen Maher (groin), while Dean Bennett (hamstring) and Shane Guthrie (blurred vision) are doubtful. High-flying Bray make the trip north without Gary Shaw (foot) and Stephen Brennan (calf).

Talking point: The Seagulls are the league's form team and face a serious test at Oriel Park. Four wins in five mean Pat Devlin's second-placed side won't fear the Lilywhites who concede more than they score, but are unbeaten at home this season.

Verdict: Draw.

St Pat's Ath v Drogheda Utd

(Richmond Park, 7.45)

League form: St Patrick's Athletic WDLDD, Drogheda United LLDLL

Match odds: St Patrick's Athletic 4/11, Drogheda United 8/1, Draw 16/5

Referee: A Buttimer (Cork)

Team news: Skipper Conor Kenna misses his fifth match in a row for the Saints who are also without Neil Harney (calf) and James O'Brien (ankle). Dave Mulcahy and Anto Murphy are set to return against a Drogheda side who travel with a clean bill of health.

Talking point: The likelihood of Drogheda getting a win looks remote but Inchicore was one of the few places where they had any success last season. Pat's haven't won in four matches but Monday's EA Sports Cup win over Shamrock Rovers will do wonders for their confidence and Pete Mahon's men will be hoping to score a third league win.

Verdict: Home win.

UCD v Sligo Rovers

(UCD Bowl, 7.45)

League form: UCD LLLDL, Sligo Rovers WWWDL

Match odds: UCD 4/1, Sligo Rovers 4/6, Draw 5/2

Referee: G Kelly (Cork)

Team news: The hosts will be without Cillian Morrison (ankle) and Samir Belhout (groin), while Mark Langtry (calf) and David O'Connor (hamstring) are doubtful. Strikers Matthew Blinkhorn and Raffaele Cretaro return for Sligo who travel to Dublin with a full squad. Midfielder Richie Ryan is also available after missing Monday's EA Sports Cup win over Cockhill Celtic through suspension.

Talking point: Paul Cook will be looking for a reaction after Friday's one that got away against Bohemians. The callow students are still adapting to top-flight football and could get a lesson this evening.

Verdict: Away win.

Irish Independent

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