Wednesday 21 February 2018

SSE Airtricity League Previews

Cork's Greg Bolger (p) is available again Photo: Sportsfile
Cork's Greg Bolger (p) is available again Photo: Sportsfile

Garry Doyle

Cork City v Wexford Youths

Turner's Cross (7.45)

League form: Cork City WLWWD, Wexford Youths LLDLW

Match odds: Cork City 1/3, Wexford Youths 9/1, Draw 7/2

Referee: Tomas Connolly (Dublin)

Team news: Cork's Greg Bolger and Alan Bennett are available again. However, John Kavanagh is out and Michael McSweeney is a major doubt. Wexford have to plan without Shane Dunne, Peter Higgins, Aidan Keenan and Johnny Bonner.

Talking point: The concession of just one goal from their five league games highlights precisely where Cork's strengths lie, although they may be slightly concerned by the fact that they have scored just once on their travels this season, although that goal, it must be noted, was enough for them to secure the points at Dundalk. Wexford, it's already clear, are a decent side. This, though, will a game for them to endure rather than enjoy.

Verdict: Home win

Derry City v Shamrock Rovers

Brandywell Stadium (7.45)

League form: Derry City WWWWD, Shamrock Rovers WWWLW

Match odds: Derry City 23/10, Shamrock Rovers 5/4, Draw 21/10

Referee: David McKeon (Dublin)

Team news: With Conor McCormack suspended, Aaron McEneff will be handed the opportunity to step up. Rovers, meanwhile, have four players ruled out - Luke Byrne, Gary Shaw and Dean Clarke with injury, Trevor Clarke because of an illness.

Talking point: Derry's unlikely draw at Dundalk last week - after a first-half pummelling - is an indicator of how far they have already travelled under new manager Kenny Shiels. Faced with similar pressure last season, they would not only have lost, but probably would have suffered a humiliation in the process. They're much more resilient now, though, and will need to be against a Shamrock Rovers side who are already specialising in 2-0 wins.

Verdict: Home win

Galway Utd v Finn Harps

Eamonn Deacy Park (7.45)

League form: Galway United WDLWL, Finn Harps WLLDW

Match odds: Galway United 4/5, Finn Harps 19/5, Draw 23/10

Referee: Jim McKell (Tipperary)

Team news: Galway's Armin Aganovic (knee) is ruled out, while Stephen Folan (toe), Kevin Devaney (ankle) and Alex Byrne (groin) face late fitness tests. Harps have doubts hanging over Ciaran Coll and Ryan Curran. Barry Molloy (knee), Sean Houston (hamstring) and Josh Mailey are out.

Talking point: Tommy Dunne's edgy pre-match comments were interesting. "Galway has been a place people like coming to," he said, before adding: "That's changed and it has to change even more. We need people coming to our ground thinking 'I hope we get something from today' rather than 'we definitely will get something'." Would he have said something like this a year ago? Probably not. Hence their progress.

Verdict: Home win

St Pat's v Sligo Rovers

Richmond Park (7.45) * Live RTE2

League form: St Pat's LWWWL, Sligo Rovers LDDLD

Match odds: St Pat's 8/15, Sligo Rovers 11/2, Draw 11/4

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin)

Team news: Late fitness tests are required for Sligo's central defenders, Tim Clancy and Gavin Peers, even though both men have participated in training this week. Phil Roberts is suspended. Meanwhile, St Pat's have Jack Bayly available again, although Conor O'Malley remains on the sidelines nursing an ankle injury.

Talking point: Sligo need goals. And fast. Having scored just twice this season, they are rooted to the bottom of the table, just four years after they ended the season on top of it. While their decline has been alarming, there is no reason to believe it will be terminal, given how their performances this season have been better than their results have indicated.

Verdict: Home win

Irish Independent

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