Sunday 18 February 2018

League of Ireland previews

Garry Doyle

All the news ahead of tonight's games.

BOHEMIANS V LIMERICK

League form: Bohemians DLDDW, Limerick DLDLD.

Match odds: Bohemians 5/6, Limerick 16/5, Draw 23/10

Referee: D Tomney (Dublin)

Team news: Bohs are missing Anto Murphy (hamstring) and Jack Memery (knee), but are boosted by the news that club captain Dave Mulcahy (knee) returns. Boss Owen Heary faces a difficult choice deciding whether Lee Murphy and Dean Delany will play in goal – the latter available again after a one-match ban. Limerick, meanwhile, are without long-term absentees, Danny Galbraith and Michael Leahy.

Talking point: Limerick's manager Stuart Taylor is insistent that his team are refusing to press any panic buttons, but if they lose again here, then the warning lights will surely be flashing. Without a win in five games, they face a Bohs team who are maturing under Owen Heary.

Verdict: Home win

CORK CITY V SLIGO ROVERS

(Turner's Cross, 7.45)

League form: Cork City DWWWW, Sligo Rovers LLLLD.

Match odds: Cork City 11/8, Sligo Rovers 9/5, Draw 9/4

Referee: P McLaughlin (Monaghan)

Team news: Sligo are missing Raf Cretaro (calf), Gavin Peers (knee), Seamus Conneely (groin) and Danny North (foot), while ankle injuries explain Michael Rafter and Danny Morrissey's definite absences and Colin Healy and Anthony Elding's possible exclusion from the Cork line-up.

Talking point: While Cork's run of form has caught the eye, Sligo's fall from grace has been the untold story of the season. One win and four defeats from six games has been disastrous and another defeat will effectively kill their title challenge.

Verdict: Home win

DERRY CITY V ATHLONE TOWN

(The Brandywell, 7.45)

League form: Derry City LDDWL, Athlone Town LLLLL.

Match odds: Derry City 4/11, Athlone Town 15/2, Draw 16/5

Referee: R Harvey (Dublin)

Team news: Athlone are missing Derek Prendergast (suspension) and Aidan Collins (shoulder). Worse again Neil Harney (dead leg), Alan Byrne (cracked ribs), James O'Brien (knee), Sean Byrne (back) and Niall Scullion (illness) are doubts. Ryan McBride is missing for Derry.

Talking point: Athlone's six straight defeats from their opening six league games needs little comment. Relegation is a certainty for a side whose performances may be gradually improving, but whose concession of soft goals has proved an embarrassment. Derry are struggling but should win this.

Verdict: Home win

DROGHEDA UTD V BRAY WNDS

(United Park, 7.45)

League form: Drogheda United DDWWD, Bray Wanderers WLLDL.

Match odds: Drogheda United 4/6, Bray Wanderers 17/4, Draw 5/2

Referee: P Tuite (Dublin)

Team news: Austin McCann has been ruled out of the rest of the season after breaking his leg in Drogheda's draw with Sligo last Monday. Micheal Schlingermann and Paul Crowley remain absent with injury. Bray are missing seven players – Danny O'Connor (groin), Eric McGill (hamstring), Shane O'Connor (hamstring), Jake Kelly (ankle), Shane Byrne (hamstring), Adam Hanlon (knee) and Shane Redmond (suspension).

Talking point: Bray's horrible injury list makes life even more difficult for them tonight. Drogheda's resilience in Sligo suggests they may last the pace at the top a little longer than many have predicted.

Verdict: Home win

UCD V DUNDALK

(Belfield Bowl, 7.45)

League form: UCD LWWDL, Dundalk WWDWW

Match odds: UCD 7/1, Dundalk 2/5, Draw 3/1

Referee: D McKeon (Dublin)

Team news: Dundalk will hand John Mountney a late fitness test, but otherwise have a full squad to choose from. The Students are without Ian Ryan (foot injury) and Ayman Ben Mohamed (knee), while Mark Langtry faces a late fitness test.

Talking point: Unbeaten in their last seven matches, Stephen Kenny's side look set to mount another title challenge after finishing runners-up last year. With 10 different players finding the net this season, the goalscoring load is being shared around. It is 15 games since they last drew a blank and 45 matches since their last scoreless draw. Expect another win here.

Verdict: Away win

ST PAT'S ATH V SHAMROCK R

(Richmond Park, 7.45)

League form: St Patrick's Athletic WDDLW, Shamrock Rovers WWWLW Match odds: St Patrick's Athletic 11/8, Shamrock Rovers 2/1, Draw 2/1

Referee: R Rogers (Dublin)

Team news: St Pat's will give Ken Oman a late fitness test, but are planning without Rene Gilmartin (hamstring). Killian Brennan and Greg Bolger return after serving one-game bans. Rovers are still missing David O'Connor (ankle).

Talking point: The champions were clearly struggling for form, so Monday's victory over Bray was desperately needed. Tonight's game will indicate whether a corner has been turned.

Verdict: Draw

Irish Independent

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