League of Ireland preview

There is a full fixture list of Airtricity Premier Division games this evening as the race for the title hots up. It is the last round of mid week games as the season reaches its latter stages.

Bohemians meet Dundalk at Dalymount Park. Pat Fenlon’s men lie in 5th position but are ten points behind leaders Derry. A win for Bohs would move them closer to fourth placed St. Pats but they are just playing for positions now. Dundalk are seven points behind Fenlon’s men and they will be hoping for a win at Dalymount to close the gap on the Gypsies. The two sides meet in the cup next week and this will be a dress rehearsal for the quarter final.

Dundalk are coming into the game on the back of six draws from their last eight league games including a disappointing draw against bottom club Galway on Friday. In terms of team news, Bohs have a full squad to pick from but Barry Murhpy and Ollie Cahill are doubtful. Ian Foster has a few more problems though as Osbourne, McDonnell, Maher, Murphy and Kerr are all injured while Keith Ward is suspended.

League leaders Derry City will be hoping to maintain their lead at the summit when they face relegation threatened Drogheda United. Following their comeback at the Brandywell on Friday night against UCD, Stephen Kenny’s men lead Rovers by just a point but the Hoops have a game in hand.

Mick Cooke’s Drogheda have struggled in recent weeks and the 5-4 defeat to UCD has meant they are likely to face a relegation play off if their form doesn’t turn around quickly. Michael McCrudden is doubtful for the Candystripes but he is the only injury worry for the home side. The Drogs have a few more injury headaches with Jack Flynn and Colin O’Brien definitely out and Lee Lynch and Alan McNally both doubtful.

Speaking ahead of the game, Stephen Kenny said it will be a tough game like the UCD match for his side. “The players are still maintaining their high level of consistency but must continue this against a very disciplined Drogheda side. We will prepare professionally and expect a tough game.”

Sligo Rovers continue their quest for the title with a tricky home tie against Bray. Sligo are in third position, currently three points behind Derry and they will expect three points on Monday to keep the pressure on the top two. Despite their good start to the season, Bray have fallen away in recent times and are in 7th but their good early form means they have no relegation fears.

Sligo will be buzzing following their dramatic victory against Rovers in Tallaght on Friday and will look to push on following that win. Paul Cook is only without Aaron Greene for the visit of the Seasiders while the away side are missing Danny O’Connor through suspension.

It’s a Dublin derby in Inchicore as St.Patricks host Shamrock Rovers. The Hoops’ loss on Friday means three points separate the sides and a win for Pete Mahon’s men would mean they would re-enter the title race. Michael O’Neill’s side might just have one eye on their Europa League opener against Paok on Thursday and it is probably a good time to play Rovers.

Dave McMillan is out with a hamstring injury for Pats and Derek Doyle is doubtful. Michael O’Neill is faced with a number of injuries. Dean Kelly, Conor McCormack and Ken Oman are all out with Gary Twigg and Ryan Thompson both doubtful. To add to his woes, Pat Flynn and and Pat Sullivan are both suspended after picking up red cards in Friday’s defeat to Sligo.

Finally, UCD host bottom side Galway United at the Belfield Bowl. The Students have pulled away from Drogheda in recent games and an expected win on Monday would move them further clear of the Drogs and three points for Martin Russell’s would mathematically mean they cannot be automatically relegated.

Galway have improved their form in recent weeks but following the departure of Sean Connor, they could go backwards again. They are now resigned to relegation and playing now for pride and building for next year.

Ciaran Nangle remains out for UCD while Graham Rusk joins him on the treatment table. Sean Harding is suspended following picking up another yellow card in Derry on Friday. For Galway, now under the John Brennan, Johnny Keane, Victor Collins, Jin Gu Kim and Eric Holland are all out.

It is a big evening of football in the League of Ireland and you can follow it all with me on Twitter @ryanbaileysport

By Ryan Bailey


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